Thursday, 10 November 2016

Recontres Bandits-Mages Program Notes

On Monday, our absurdist cop flick Epizoda ? had its international premiere at Recontres Bandits-Mage. The event's director Isabel Carlier asked me to select some films to play alongside our own, within the themes of this year's encounter. These are the program notes I composed for the event, including some thoughts on my 2017 residency at Bandits-Mages:

The three movies that form the program may not at first glance have much to do with each other. A meta-documentary on love and identity, a post-Tsukamoto monster romance, and a broken-down detective show. But each presents a vision of instability from their surface scaffolding, through their foundations, deep into whatever’s below. In each movie, the potential for transformation is hinted at, but it’s a transformation that is inseparable from destruction. The movies are maintained as much by the volatile portals that open up in the fissures as by the physical substance that weighs them down.

Kaori Oda’s Twitter biography used to read, “Am a camera”. Now it says, “filmmaker / log”. Her identification as a media cyborg does not preclude a profound and troubled humanhood. She watches and she records, but very quietly she also talks. ‘Thus a Noise Speaks’ is ostensibly about gender, sexual and family identity but the video’s mechanical exoskeleton is tangled in these vines. This is the digital human hybrid as a breathing video archive.

Ghazi Alqudcy has a morbid interest in the everyday and a healthy interest in the morbid. In ‘My Parents Are Animals’ we witness degradation, humiliation, excreta and noodles. A park, a kitchen, a doctor’s office become the showgrounds for subversion of the established social, physical and biological rules: yet love, as we know, remains a survival game requiring adaptation, submission, cruelty and affection.

Somehow the free-associating doctor of ‘My Parents’ is a cousin of Detective Inspector Colin Giffard, the English-named Bosnian detective of my own ‘Epizoda ?’. Giffard’s tragedy is that he is the privileged and inevitable outcome of a system to whose underlying code he has been refused access. As with ‘Thus A Noise Speaks’, the generic form and the wet content make for a pensive chimera; however, Kaori’s video nurtures an unpredictable potential for growth, while in ‘Epizoda ?’ we find only rot. Yet, both are processes that require the progress of time. When making ‘Epizoda ?’, I never asked myself if Giffard is searching for salvation: I only knew that this media dinosaur wanted to make it safely to the end.

Residency

When we virtualize our culture it becomes vulnerable to evaporating on a hot day or blowing away in the wind. Decay is history evolving. A stone monument remains alive even if blown apart. Its negative imprint stands sturdy in the memory dust. What do we mean when we talk about protecting our “way of life”? Can it be described as an endless reel of gestures and actions (with periods of snoozing)? Could we reduce it to a choreographic score, save it in scrolls and reanimate it? How different would the playback look if it was scored by Edvard Munch or Charles M. Schulz?

UNIVERSAL EAR is a lost adventure serial of the future, charting heroic ex-postman Harley Byrne’s ongoing mission: to capture and make available for download “all the world’s music, ever.”

Each episode sees Byrne travel to another time and place, where his efforts to find and record humanity’s rarest musics are hindered by his arch-enemy, Being, mysterious mistress of disguise.

It has become my own personal mission to (p)reconstruct these as yet unmade pocket adventures, one by one into infinity.

Inspired by recent developments in ‘virtual heritage’ – hologram Buddhas, hologram dead pop stars, 3D printed replicas of the still-smoking remains of Syrian monuments – I shall follow Harley Byrne to a future Bourges we don’t yet know: a future in which the concrete present overlaps with 3D, hologramatic and augmented reality meta-levels in a manner that is not so much ‘mixed-reality’ as ‘mixed-authenticity’.

What will the great-great-granddaughters of today’s heritage ministers consider important enough to preserve in ever-looping projections, town square battles and beheadings that recur in full digital fidelity each day with sharper regularity than the lighting of the street lamps? Which personal accomplishments and disasters will solipsistic curators make virtual space for in the alleys and byways of a city frozen in the past by the technologies of the future? What hymns to sing in the graveyards we’ll build for our virtual PA’s? What bitcrushed cries will echo through these temporal interstices with musical regularity?


Epizoda ?

My Parents Are Animals

Thus A Noise Speaks

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