Black Box Shorts 3: Phenomena In Flux

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Reviewed by: Trinity

This collection of shorts is titled Phenomena In Flux and deals with the interplay of time, sound and motion, often by mixing abstract or distorted visions of everyday phenomena. Overall there are some real finds, Iris Out and Stroboscopic Noise being notable examples of truly imaginative experimental film. However, as with a lot of experimental shorts, a particular technique or idea is often taken too far, and not developed but merely repeated ad infinitum.

Tilt, borrowing a visual and auditory motif from the sound of a film being pulled through a projector out of alignment, is an interesting experiment but one which is rather tired. Red and cyan stripes interact with a feedback heavy soundtrack to alternately hypnotise and grate. 3 out of 5.

3 Year Compression is only 18 seconds long, but the glimpses of images it offers are not enigmatic nor engaging enough to give you reason to watch. 1 out of 5.

Iris Out gives us computer generated shapes moving in and out, expanding and contracting in different colours across the screen. First circles, then rectangles and ellipses combine to form a strangely mesmerising experience, like a giant eye is focussed upon you. 4 out of 5.

Still In Cosmos takes as its starting image a starscape and seems to take you on a scratchy journey from the depths of the sky to the expanse of abstracted fields and expansive oceans, snow flurries and overgrown vegetation, all set to dark melancholic music. 3.5 out of 5.

28.IV.81 Bedouin Spark revolves around floating stars, cut in a way that is reminiscent of the decreasing ratio technique favoured by Otto Muehl. 2.5 out of 5.

16-18-4 splits the screen into four quadrants to bring us images from a Japanese horse derby. But why? What sort of emotion or feeling is the filmmaker trying to evoke? 2 out of 5.

Sphinx On The Seine is a languid pleasure ride, a journey through different everyday objects, following the sun. Power lines, trains and walls all blend into a pleasing whole but there is nothing particularly original or experimental amongst the lush imagery. 3 out off 5.

In Girum takes an abstract whirl around a funfair, the warmth of the lights mixing with the thrillseekers on the rides. Trippy but of no real substance. 3 out of 5.

Stroboscopic Noise uses just two oscillating lines, which for 10 minutes dance around the screen creating blocks of white, black and shades in between. As the frequencies change the lines become imperceptible and you see only their ghosts, drifting across in blocks of flickering shadow until the screen fills with light. Completely mesmerising and technically innovative. 4 out of 5.

In Suspension provides us with familiar yet foreign images - cells perhaps - drifting in suspension like the floaters in your eyes. In the background it sounds like something coming to the boil, whistling through the images like a cauterising blast. A nice idea but one which goes on far too long without adding anything. 2.5 out of 5.

Laws Of Physics takes an unusual camera angle, starting high up pointing at a drain and slowly, inexorably zooming in as a few isolated incidents occur in camera shot and an insistent background soundtrack and score suggest activity just out of sight. It's reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames' wonderful Powers Of Ten film but here not enough is done with the slow zoom conceit. 3 out of 5.

Reviewed on: 26 Jun 2009
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Showcase of abstract shorts which aim to break new ground in cinematic representation.
Amazon link

Director: Various

Writer: Various

Year: 2009

Runtime: 93 minutes

Festivals:

EIFF 2009

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