By Ivonne Sheen
Thought and Film. Several filmmakers have been in this galaxy, the one in which film thinks itself. One could say that experimental filmmaking focuses in a way of thinking about film as phenomenon, as life, from its own nature as a medium. Three films from TIFF’s Wavelengths program think about it, one from a landscape documentary perspective and other two from an inherited structuralism.
Lina Rodriguez’s Before my eyes (2018) documents a visit to Guatavita lagoon in Colombia, country where the director was born. There are two creative actors in this film, as demiurge of sound and image. The director is the one in charge of the image and Camilo Martínez is the sound recordist. The relationship between this two acts of making a film are presented apart but for the same purposes, that is to say that the making of sound and image for a film happens as a parallel action of -usually- one person in charge of it, separately, but for the making of one film in common. Rodriguez composes a fragmented dialogue between this two creative exercises, in which the sound design begins with a documentary description of the place, the moment and the sound landscape, an exercise that sound recordists know very well -usually not included in film sound designs-, specially when recording an environmental sound. In the other side, the visual portrait of the lagoon ruptures the documentary code of the direct sound recording, and shows us textures of light in a natural landscape. Rodriguez manages to take advantage of 8 mm format as a poetic dispositive. Not only because of the filmic textures, but also because of the spontaneous moves that a small camera permits. The film leaves blanks -black screen- in between these different sides of the landscapes that the sound recordist describes, maybe to reaffirm the prismatic director’s own experience when filmmaking. Before her eyes, there’s poetry, there’s emotion in the landscape, before her eyes, her ways. A contrast between a descriptive relationship to a landscape, represented by the direct sound recording, and a more intimate approach to it, represented by the director’s eyes and feelings embodied in moving images.
Philipp Fleischmann is an Austrian artist whose work thinks about the Institutional Art’s exhibition space -the White Cube-, the cinematic experience and its projection theater -Black Box-. Since Kubelka, the thinking of film as a presence and physical phenomena became a style of an artistic approach to film medium. These kind of works are based in a minimalistic and deep conceptualization of film, and in Fleischmann’s films is important to take into account the process in which these were made, since it implies a sculptural work set in an exhibition space or a movie theater. In both, Mumok Kino (2017) (the name of a film venue in the museum of modern art in Vienna, where the film was made, and where artists gather together once a week to talk about art and film issues, a place where people dialogue in its Socratic sense) and Invisible Cinema 3 (2017) (a reference to Kubelka), there’s an attempt to capture energies that intersects these spaces in which light, time and sound, happen in the cinematic form. At the same time, Fleischmann focuses in capturing traces of another kind of experience that overpasses us when watching a film in a certain space, is not only about what we’re watching, but the energies that travels through us and in front of us that our common way of experiencing movement and time don’t lets us easily notice. Fleischmann’s work questions even the structural tradition, since his explorations go further the mechanism of filmmaking, by setting cinematic performances with multiple cameras or a pinhole sculpture with film strips inside, to design an own mechanism closer to an organic process of capturing moving images, moving light, moving energy, besides cinematic technology and within exhibition’s space design.
WAVELENGHTS 1: Earth, Wind and Fire
Before my eyes (ante mis ojos)
Director: Lina Rodriguez
Country: Colombia, Canada
Duration: 7 min
WAVELENGHTS 2: Another Brick in the Wall
Director: Phillip Fleischmann
Duration: 2 min
The Invisible Cinema 3
Director: Philipp Fleischmann
Duration: 1 min