By Aldo Padilla
Insomnia can be defined as an intermediate state between dream and reality. Apíchatpong builds or simulates this scenario through tableaux that slightly change the dream, the possibility of voluntarily changing what we see in this intermediate state, part of the will of staying in that limbo. The lead character of Blue turns around in a bed while there’s a flame that extends through her, but without burning her, an illusion generated by a transparent screen that seems to ward off the spectator from the privacy of the inaccessible dream. The fire moves forward and the screens keep changing, while Apichatpong transposes the ideas of his cinema and his installations in five minutes, where the color blue associated to a peaceful dream, appears sporadically to remind us that we’re in the night, something that counterpoises the crepuscular passages of the exchangeable paintings.
In the installation The Last years of the river (2016), the filmmaker had approached the idea of the fire as a superposition of layers that doesn’t touch each other, and in the installation Sleepcinemahotel (2017), the guests of the hotel became part of the exhibition, since they slept in the different beds placed in different levels, forming a sort of camp, accompanied by a circular screen in which different animals and people sleeping were projected, a collective installation where the filmmaker tries to take the different experiences of dream to a new level of experimentation. The case of Blue can be understood as an intermediate experience between cinema and installation. The experimentation moves towards the process of dreaming itself: the scenario that changes and the sensations of dream as such, the damage that one can see but not feel.
Compared to the oenirism of Blue, Kämmerer turns to the illusion of infinity based in circularity in Arena. A unique take travels through a sort of forum where the camera shows the tribunes where the zones of space can barely be differentiated between each other. These zones set a pattern that gradually and subtly varies throughout all the film, and since it’s filmed in 70mm, it generates an even stronger sensation of distance. The little variation of the angle from which the take is filmed shows itself slowly through the camera movement, and it achieves a sort of climax when the frontal shot to the tribunes generates a real challenge. This is about the confrontation of the image like if we were in a battle arena, a place which we have arrived without noticing it.
The circularity of the scenario becomes linearity, the dexterity when planning a perfect and plastic shot, which generates a study of pure space without any distraction –like sound-. It’s not strange that Arena precedes Benning’s L. Cohen in the same show, since they both generate a dialog between Benning’s time and Kämmerer’s space.
WAVELENGHTS 1: Earth, Wind and Fire
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
WAVELENGHTS 2: L. COHEN preceded by Arena
Director: Björn Kämmerer