Photo: Still from What's That Sound, Dir. George Barber

Christian Marclay, Ian Halliwell & Various Artists

Film Programme 5: Drama

Whether drawing their own fractured, abstract narrative, or re-contextualising, chewing up and spitting out someone else’s, each of the films here take a dramatic arc as their starting point and throw it to the wind.  Watch out for a few unexpected A-list cameos, some demonic trysts and stunning visual investigations of identity and the self.

 

Specialised Technicians Required: Being Luis Porcar, Dir. Manuel Saiz, Spain, 2005, 1 mins 30 secs, DVD
 
Manuel Saiz has done it! The Famous Hollywood Actor has once again gracefully accepted to be or not to be what he is. Witness the film that inspired the pun in the title of this short video - he is not afraid of a few digs at his person and status. He probably has a small army of agents, managers and assistants around him, to keep all those who are trying to make use of him because of his name at a distance. Perhaps Manuel Saiz was lucky, perhaps he knows the friends of the friends of - perhaps he has been waiting on the doorstep and hanging on the phone for months, driving the whole army crazy. He probably just used a sympathetic argument that struck the right cord: would the actor who likes role reversals for once lend his charismatic voice to a man who is used to doing precisely that? A man who always obligingly keeps out of sight, but who is, to the Spanish speaking part of the world population, the actor's mouthpiece, and therefore to a great extent 'is him'. 'Being Luis Porcar' is part of the series 'Specialized Technicians Required', and it makes you wonder who actually is the specialized technician in this construction. Is it the main character, the man who does the dubbing, or is it the artist himself, who nowadays has to master so many different skills in order to be able to carry out his profession properly? (Vinken & Van Kampen)
 
 
secricon_RA, Dir. reMI, Austria, 2004, 6 mins 30 secs, DVD
 
In this work, the technical-formal characteristics of the work of reMI link up with the hyperbolic images of the splatter-horror films from the 1970s. Computer-generated sound and image disruptions descend on the fast, rhythmically edited sequence of images whose content is deranged enough in itself. The context of cinematic film, for which the audience buys a ticket - or which can be rented as a video - at least ensures that all that blood splashing about remains more or less bearable. Which is probably to do with quenching our thirst for sensation. In Seciron-RA, we are presented with isolated 'highlights' of extreme sadistic massacres, accompanied by a sampling of faces distorted by fear. In reMI's work, the images generate different relationships with the viewer, who possibly also feels jumped upon. The speed of the image bombardment gives you no room to identify with either victim or slayer, and moreover, compared to that of a film, the soundtrack is more autonomous - that is to say, it hardly follows, supports or explains what is happening. Due to this, the video can be regarded more as a whole, with the human being, the body and sheer and utter fear as subject matter. Being recruited by art, the image of a skull that is being pierced via an eye has become a symbol. (Montevideo)
 
 
Filmosounds, Dir. Ian Helliwell, UK, 2004, 5 mins, BetaSP
 
An experimental film and video combination assembled from found 16mm footage cut into short sequences and spliced together to form an audio collage. The film`s soundtrack was fed into a specially modified TV test pattern generator, to give a synchronised visual representation, in the form of blue horizontal bands of variable density. (Lux)
 
 
What's That Sound, Dir. George Barber, UK, 1986 -2004, 5 mins, BetaSP
 
What's That Sound? is a classic scratch piece started in 1989 but got left hanging around until 2004.
The idea of the piece is to use the central idea of the drama where the characters struggle to hear the sound of a rescue ship. This in a way becomes a Greenbergian device asking the audience toconcentrate and listen extra hard to the soundtrack of the piece. Just what is it made of? What are the bare fundamentals here? What exactly is it we are listening out for? In this way, it becomes hard to know what is the real film and what is new or different. In all it produces, like all scratch pieces, a very different aesthetic experience and a strange mesmerizing feel in being asked just like the people on screen to strain one's ears and listen.  (Georges Barber)
 
 
Everywhere at Once, Dir. Alan Berliner, USA, 1985, 8 mins 45 secs, 16mm
 
... is a musical montage, a synchronized symphony composed from an infinity of elements at hand: piano chords and cable cars, cocktail jazz and broken glass, looney toones and telephones, elephants and xylophones, violins and vultures, orchestra's and roller coasters... A journey in images at the speed of sound. These collages films are drawn from a vast personal library of sounds and images, steadfastly accumulated over many years. This randomly assembled over and over expanding pool of elements serves as the basis for a form of bricolage-- cultural artifacts and residues, odds and ends accumulated over time and transformed into works attempting to bridge a wide range of poetic horizons: the actual with the possible, pre-history with science fiction, magic with science fact, the medium with the message. Ultimately these film documents my need to put that order to my universe, a place burdened by my need to make the puzzle fit the pieces. (Alan Berliner)
 
 
Mayhem Is This What You Were Born For? (Part 6), Dir. Abigail Child, USA, 1987, 16 mins 30 secs , 16mm
 
Characters from Child’s previous film Perils reappear, this time in a film noir setting, soap opera thrillers and Mexican comic books generating the action. Perversely and equally inspired by de Sade's Justine and Vertov's sentences about the satiric detective advertisement, MAYHEM is my attempt to create a film in which Sound is the Character and to do so focusing on sexuality and the erotic. Not so much to undo the entrapment (we fear what we desire; we desire what we fear), but to frame fate, show up the rotation, upset the common, and incline our contradictions toward satisfaction, albeit conscious. (Filmmakers’ Co-op)
 
With Diane Torr, Ela Troyano, Plauto, Elion Sacker, Rex West. Additional sound - Christian Marclay, Charles Noyes, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsch. 
 
 
Shudder (top and Bottom), Dir. Michael Gitlin, USA, 2001, 3 mins, 16mm
 
The source for Shudder (top and bottom) is a piece of found footage on which a 35mm film image was mistakenly printed on 16mm film stock. Each frame of the original 35mm image covers two 16mm frames, with the top half of the original image on one frame and the bottom half on the next frame. When projected, this misprint becomes a kind of shuddering optical toy, with a dense, collagist soundtrack that rubs against the complicated visual weave of the images. Shudder (top and bottom) scratches at the fiction of the original footage, leaving behind, in its phosphene-laden after-image, a throbbing world of lonely danger. (Filmmakers’ Co-op)
 
 
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine, Dir. Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2005, 17 mins, 35mm
 
The hero of Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is easy to identify. Walking down the street unknowingly, he suddenly realizes that he is not only subject to the gruesome moods of several spectators but also at the mercy of the filmmaker. He defends himself heroically, but is condemned to the gallows, where he dies a filmic death through a tearing of the film itself. Our hero then descends into Hades, the realm of shades. Here, in the underground of cinematography, he encounters innumerable printing instructions, the means whereby the existence of every filmic image is made possible. In other words, our hero encounters the conditions of his own possibility, the conditions of his very existence as a filmic shade.
 
Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine is an attempt to transform a Roman Western into a Greek tragedy. (Peter Tscherkassky)
 
 
Mirror Mechanics, Dir. Siegfried A Fruhauf, Austria, 2005, 7 mins 30 secs, 35mm
 
The film as a mirror and, as a further consequence, the phenomenon of identification primarily inherent in feature films, condense to a type of essence of film’s potential. This film reports on cinema and the processes within it. In doing so, it doesn’t reveal any secrets, but instead, attempts to transfer – in the sense of seeing what we see – what we do in the cinema and what also can be relevant outside of film into a visually stimulating and captivating event.
(Siegfried A. Fruhauf)
 
The mirror is an instrument of deception. It can never correspond with the images presented to it, although it can reverse them, twist them into their antitheses: into counter images. It is no wonder that right from the start, the mirror has been one of the favorite accessories of melodramatic and avant-garde cinema. The mirror image’s imaginary lack of physical body sums up the idea of the cinematic: illusion, shadow, projection.
 
In Mirror Mechanics, a young woman with wet hair glances in a bathroom mirror. She wipes across the surface with a brush of the hand: the picture that shows this scene is mirrored along the center axis, alienated in a type of double projection. That is the starting point: Siegfried A. Fruhauf subjects his material to a series of complex transformations, overlapping and intertwining variously processed image layers, double reflections, and multiple exposures. Jürgen Gruber’s subtle soundtrack composed from intimated guitar feedback and electronic sound details gives the film an aura of smoldering aggression: the foundations of a thriller. (…) (Stefan Grissemann)
 
Below are some online links which you can use for reference. To see the films in their original glory, check with the distributors of the films for their terms and conditions.
  • Everywhere at Once, Dir. Alan Berliner

  • Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine, Dir. Peter Tscherkassky