A Reportage Of Circuit Bending
I believe it was filmmaker Siegfried A. Fruhauf who exclaimed it was an absolute privilege to have his film be projected in such a loud cinema. He seemed less out of breath than the rest of those seated at KINO 4 and was, like all the other filmmakers attending that night, delighted to clarify some things about his work. Fruhauf was correct: the fourth screen in the cinema KINO (from now on lovingly referred to as KINO 4) was loud, audibly and visually. As an audience, we were subjected to a 63-minute programme of artists presenting works that dared to examine the medium they were working in. Through calm observation or loud destruction, the idea was never to annihilate cinema, but to open it up, even if they had to use force.
Or, on a personal note: I left the theatre transformed. Positively devastated to my core. I raved to a friend later that week that I had seen possibilities rather than problems. That same friend had asked me a few weeks before what era I, as a filmmaker, longed for. After some internal deliberation, I replied that this era hadn’t happened yet. That I longed for the future. And what I saw that night, on the 25th of January, was not steps, but leaps into that direction.
But it wasn’t Fruhauf who kicked off the evening. That
The film we were shown was shot and projected on 35mm, a format from a bygone era which was rapidly replaced by the Digital Cinema Package (more on that below). And yet Schmid’s choices here did not seem to be drowning in nostalgia, always the wrong motivator.
After the dunes and the trees and the ocean not far away, Dutch filmmaker Marieke van der Lippe showed us The Machine, a 16-minute adaptation of a 50-minute performance piece based on a radio play from 1968. She had seen the piece being conducted by composer Radboud
In it, a few voices representing a machine (which we would nog call a computer) systematically analyze Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem Wanderer’s Nightsong. Words are repeated in sequences of varying quantities or shuffled around altogether. Later there are vowels and even parts of other words placed within each word of the poem. Van der Lippe argued that she loved
And it’s a bit like this text, in which I am anxiously trying to convey to you, the reader, the transformative experience of this evening of film through the means of text and failing tremendously.
And it’s a bit like Beatriz Ferreyra, a pioneer of musique concrète, who in Making a Diagonal with Music tries to convey to us, the viewers, the way she hears and experience sound. The explanation of her methods often have to rely on onomatopoeia, as the words she would like to use do not exist. Meanwhile we see her work her gorgeous Telefunken, bits of audio tape hanging from her neck, wildly gestating and gently spinning. Director Aura Satz captures Ferreyra only in fragments, following the movements of her fingers through which her sounds glide, before they reach the playhead. All the while we hear what she produces, a symphony of garbles and swoops, like a rubber band being stretched out until infinity. (Admittedly, as someone who creates tape loops and experimental film, I am the Venn diagram this film caters to.)
And so we arrive back at Fruhauf and his joyous declaration for seeing his film being played this loud. His film THORAX (2019) could be considered part of the other half of the night, in which the films and their creators tried to break the machine. For starters, THORAX was made of bits and pieces of Duchamp’s Anémic Cinéma (1926) altered through archaic computerised processes, until it came out the other end as the flicker film equivalent of a bulldozer.
The comparatively bulldozing and
I was brought back to that night a few years ago where I found myself in the midst of My Bloody Valentine’s unfortunately titled Holocaust, the bridge of the song You’ve Made Me Realise in which Kevin Shields and cohorts created nothing but noise for an extended period of time, slowly increasing in intensity. There’s something about feeling parts of your body move involuntarily by the sheer power of amplified sound. And I experienced it again in my seat in KINO 4, though visually, as if I were a few stops short of passing out.
Writing this made me realize that the experience sounds quite unpleasant, but I want to assure you it wasn’t. It was a rather positive experience. Something you hardly get in the cinema. Or anywhere really. Most films try to move
And finally, there was
I’ll have to give credit to the elderly gentleman sitting next to me who, after the programme, started questioning me about sync sound on film. He proclaimed how peculiar it was that a lot of forward-thinking artists that night were going back to analog formats, or trying to reproduce certain elements from yesteryear. As if the artists needed to take a few steps back to catch their bearings and move