European Film/Video

20 Hz, 2011

20 Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth's upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.

A fragmented puzzle of a sinister narrative turned inside out and comprised of digital video, digital video animation, and Super-8, with model animation and human pixelation.

“This is a video about the thing that won’t go away. It has been trying to contact me by altering bits of my reality for several years now, and this seven minutes is a clear demonstration of that. My 8-year old nephew got drawn into the whole thing, and that’s why his voice is on this video. I’m not sure if it’s dead now. We’ll just have to see.”

—Jennet Thomas 

Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) gained international recognition with her three-and-a-half hour masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which portrays a housewife’s dull existence and eventual violent action. She has continued to be one of Europe’s most innovative filmmakers with more than forty film and television projects to her credit. Akerman’s work is minimalist, structuralist, and feminist. Major themes in her films include women at work and at home; women’s relationships to men, other women, and children; food, love, sex, romance, art, and storytelling. In this interview from 1976 Akerman discusses her early films, and the development of her particular vision.

"The head of a Berlin advertising agency explains his proposed strategy to his potential client, a Danish optical company. The communication strategy that we ultimately came up with as a basis or any creative act or means of communication has three headings. The first is 'relevant, not arrogant'; the second, 'varied, not uniform'; and the third is, 'creative, not pushy'. These are essentially translations, strategic translations of your basic requirements and your analysis of the market, as well."

-- From the transcription of The Appearance

Images from magazines and color supplements accompany a spoken text taken from Herbert H. Clark’s “Word Associations and Linguistic Theory” (in New Horizons in Linguistics, ed. John Lyons,1970). By using the ambiguities inherent in the English language, Associations sets language against itself. Image and word work together and against each other to destroy and create meaning.

"A film about the time of the blast furnaces — 1917-1933 — about the development of an industry, about a perfect machinery which had to run itself to the point of its own destruction. This essay... on heavy industry and the gas of the blast furnace, convinces through the author's cool abstraction and manic obsession, and through the utilization of a single example of the self-destructive character of capitalistic production: 'The image of the blast furnace gas is real and metaphoric; an energy blows away uselessly into the air. Guided through a system of pipes, the pressure increases.

Black Sea Files is a territorial research on the Caspian oil geography: the world's oldest oil extraction zone. A giant new subterranean pipeline traversing the Caucasus will soon pump Caspian crude to the West. The line connecting the resource fringe with the terminal of the global high-tech oil circulation system, runs through the video like a central thread. However, the trajectory followed by the narrative is by no means a linear one. Circumventing the main players in the region, the video sheds light on a multitude of secondary sceneries.

Blight, 1996

"Blight was made in collaboration with composer Jocelyn Pook. It revolves around the building of the M11 Link Road in East London, which provoked a long and bitter campaign by local residents to protect their homes from demolition. Until 1994, when our houses were destroyed, both the composer and I lived on the route of this road. The images in the film are a selective record of some of the changes which occurred in the area over a two-year period, from the demolition of houses through to the start of motorway building work.

"A meditation on history, memory, and change in Central and Eastern Europe, Buried in Light is a non-narrative journey, a cinematic collage. Cohen’s “search for images” began at a time of extraordinary flux, as the Berlin Wall was dismantled—opening borders yet ushering in a nascent wave of consumer capitalism. What he saw struck him as a profound paradox: the moment Eastern Europe was revealed was simultaneously the moment it was hidden by the blinding light of commercialism.

CB, 2011

CB is an experimental bio-pic: its heroine, Charlotte Brontë. A collaboration between Doug Ischar and Tom Daws, CB was commissioned by the Laumeier Museum, St. Louis, for their inaugural Nightlight series.

Citadel, 2020

Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, Citadel combines short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to coronavirus with views of the London skyline recorded in a variety of weather conditions. Recognising the government’s decision to place business interests before public health, it relocates the centre of

come lontano is a perverse historical romance in which two lives are exposed, inter-mixed, doused with sentiment, and — hopefully — redeemed. The work revolves around a central ‘couple’ — Pier Paolo Pasolini and Maria Callas. There is a third main character, an ambiguous villain made of steel, glass and rubber. Each member of our central couple has her/his own external distractions which impinge — to varying degrees — on their brief, ecstatic encounter. This encounter was in fact a cinematic collaboration; it’s product the film Medea (1969).

Upon entering the harbor, the voyager leaves the exceptional condition of the boundless sea--this traversable space of maritime immensity--to come ashore in an offshore place, in a container world that only tolerates the trans-local state of not being of this place--nor of any other really--but of existing in a condition of permanent not-belonging, of juridical non-existence. He comes to signify the itinerant body, bound to string along a chain of territories, never reaching a final destination.

Couch, 1994

From the point of view of the psychoananlyst's chair, we witness images that place us implicitly within the scene. The images depict two embracing men, and suggest a complex and ambiguous web of associations. The embrace is both erotic and tender, and invites questions about power relationships. The pain of love and possible rejection is exposed through the flash of a naked leg, or the vulnerability of a fleeting expression.

The city today is as rationalised and regulated as a production process. The images which today determine the day of the city are operative images, control images. Representations of traffic regulation, by car, train or metro, representations determining the height at which mobile phone network transmitters are fixed, and where the holes in the networks are. Images from thermo-cameras to discover heat loss from buildings.

Couple, 1998

The title implies a relationship between the two persons in the frame of the image. The woman in the foreground appears somewhat sad, the man in the background concerned. In the slowed-down motion of the video, these expressions become intensified, and heightened to levels of romantic tragedy by the accompaniment of Chet Baker’s melancholy song, 'You Don’t Know What Love Is'. As we become more involved in this narration, the slightest shift of her head or the subtlest movement of his eyes become important players in this relation....

A portrait of Luce Vigo, film critic, educator, and the daughter of pivotal French filmmaker Jean Vigo. Commissioned by the Spanish documentary festival, Punto de Vista, the film incorporates Luce's memories of her extraordinary life, reflections on her father, and images of Northern Spain.

Four dummies, two cats, and a portal to bliss inside their attempts at symmetry. A hairball, and a mess of twigs, whose love has died and who are sad.

"Living on the slopes of the volcano Vesuvius is a strange contradiction: always in stress and yet also sleepy, waiting for what might happen. In close cooperation with the Osservatorio Vesuviano and several inhabitants of the 'Red Zone' of the volcano, Rosa Barba constructs a lyrical portrait of this area, which shelters Mafia members and illegal Chinese immigrants. Historic footage, measurements, maps, and aerial shots try to capture what is always uncertain."

The film centers on the images of the Gulf War, which caused worldwide outrage in 1991. In the shots taken from projectiles homing in on their targets, bomb and reporter were identical, according to a theory put forward by the philosopher Klaus Theweleit. At the same time it was impossible to distinguish between the photographed and the (computer) simulated images. The loss of the 'genuine picture' means the eye no longer has a role as historical witness. It has been said that what was brought into play in the Gulf War was not new weaponry, but rather a new policy on images.

"How can the distinction between "man" and "machine" still be made given today's technology? In modern weapons technology the categories are on the move: intelligence is no longer limited to humans. In Eye/Machine II, Farocki has brought together visual material from both military and civilian sectors, showing machines operating intelligently and what it is they see when working on the basis of image processing programs. The traditional man-machine distinction becomes reduced to "eye/machine", where cameras are implanted into the machines as eyes.

“The third part of the Eye/Machine cycle structures the material around the concept of the operational image. These are images which do not portray a process, but are themselves part of a process. As early as the Eighties, cruise missiles used a stored image of a real landscape, then took an actual image during flight; the software compared the two images, resulting in a comparison between idea and reality, a confrontation between pure war and the impurity of the actual. This confrontation is also a montage, and montage is always about similarity and difference.

Fishtank, 1998

An alcoholic, emaciated father; a grossly obese, tattooed mother; a goofy, hormone-addled brother—all together in a claustrophobic council flat. Welcome to the Billinghams'. Richard Billingham wowed the art scene with his book Ray's A Laugh. Fishtank, his first film, charts the emotional territory of the flat and the family who play out their lives within its confines.

John Smith’s Flag Mountain records a vast flag, the insignia of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, painted onto the side of the Kyrenia mountains overlooking Nicosia, the divided capital of the former island nation. The flag, situated in what is officially understood under international law to be 'Turkish occupied' northern Cyprus, is accompanied by the legend 'Ne mutlu Türküm diyene' ('How happy is he who can say “I am a Turk”').

German filmmaker Valeska and her crew—soundwoman Constanza and cameraman Albert—arrive at Maple Tree Farm during the Thanksgiving holiday of 1971 to film a piece for German TV on the Videofreex. In this video, the Videofreex turn the tables so to speak, making the Germans’ filming process—and the artificiality of the filmmaker’s prefabricated shots—their subject.