By Mónica Delgado
This edition of (S8) Mostra de Cinema Periferico carries the name Lux Algebra, something which mostly defines its entire program dedicated to structural cinema. Paraphrasing the concept by film historian P. Adams Sitney, it’s about a type of simplified cinema of predetermined forms (even of rhythmic patterns or algorithms) where the explorations of nature or film materiality are primal. This is why the fundamental presence of canon structural cinema by Ernie Gerhr or Kurt Kren is exemplary in these days of projections, along other works by younger or posterior filmmakers, than are inspired or revisit their works.
Métrica y rima (Metric and rhyme) is the program which includes different possibilities inside structural cinema, especially with works that gave it a wider panorama, from animation to arithmetic succession, from Paul Gablicki’s Diagram Film (1978) to the sense of humor found in the episodes of 13 (recorded) apparitions of her ghost (2018) by illustrator and filmmaker Pere Ginard. Of this section, we take two of its most recent works: Exile (2018) by American filmmaker Robert Todd, and As much time as space (2018) by Dutch filmmaker Katja Mater. Plus, all of these works were projected in 16 or 35mm, and two in video.
From the beginning, in Exile, the filmmaker establishes a point of view. Todd builds an appearance of the quotidian and of common public spaces, from a registry that focuses on objects or details of landscapes or environments through shots or views separated by fades to black. Then, when the weather changes and winter comes, the gaze changes and different fixed shots gaze at the snow in the parks and woods around the place. With this wintery climate, the 16mm acquires a dimension of a double texture, of the format itself and what is being captured.
Todd, who has worked in 16mm for a long time, then uses vertical movements in the camera, which little by little become the treatment of a poetic documentary. From a sunny day we go to a winter of snow and woods, like a reverse of the first minutes of the short film, where we observe different people contemplating the landscape, walking around or talking. Exile seduces with its search for textures through the dew over the plants and stones, or the snow over the trees, and does so in a way that can’t be approached or touched, just seen from a fixed point. A final scene of an observer in a wheelchair may be the entity that embodies this gaze, from a kind of exile, where it imagines, travels in dreams and elevates what it sees.
In a different style, As much time as space, exposed through two projectors with a small time and position difference (8 seconds between each one, one horizontal another vertical) was initially an installation. Here, visual artist Katja Mater explores corners and framings of walls and doors of a minimalistic designed house, of cool colors, from modernist artists Theo and Nelly van Doesburg, a register she combines with naif drawings of her own. More than a work which describes spaces, As much time as space is a film that combines possibilities of relation between these two frames, in their possible symbiosis or interaction, a feature that sometimes works as an association, denying any chance for conjunction.
The colors and disposition of spaces, plus the time difference, quickly enables the abstraction, in a Ernie Gehr-kind of way, achieving an experience where the geometric figures work with different variables, from horizontal to vertical, up and down, left and right, using this house as matter to deconstruct and auscultate.