All Of Your Stars Are But Dust On My Shoes


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

All Of Your Stars Are But Dust On My Shoes
"From the colonial to the occupying, this is wide ranging as an exploration of something fundamental to cinema."

All Of Your Stars Are But Dust On My Shoes starts in the water. Not just any water but the whale rich seas, the mighty creatures of darkness turned by industrial slaughter into lamp oil.

A sheriff's department makes of its police cars a choir, a campanology of blues and twos, the sirens' calls. There is teargas inside the mosque. The department of electricity has it, but not to share.

Haig Aivazian's film is constructed of a variety of archives, clips that have the ring of museum YouTube channels, PowerPoint level animations, phone video, variously disrupted. As with the protests in Hong Kong some of these sensors are overwhelmed by lasers. Some of those sensors are those of the police, protestors looking to escape identification. Some of those sensors are those of the protestors, police looking to escape identification.

Street lighting not just as a mechanism to create space but to control it. "to see and be seen", to form parallel networks of control and communication. Surveillance from these posts, the eyes of the world upon something.

The striking darkening of Syria, the grid disrupted, Aleppo from above as the months go by, smaller, darker, disrupted, distressed. Electricity is "the nerve of life" and where it is not, high tension.

Sparks jump gaps with humid violence, lightning uncaged. Before the brightness of unimaginable voltages the anxious glass of countless cameras records colours from out of space. in the underpass concrete infrastructure becomes amplification, a house without a light, a light without a house. From songs and sayings, the bright eyes of cats in the dark, quizzical cartoons, eye donors, retinas and retinues.

Layering and bright to the point of blinking, the eye as identity, as identification. From the colonial to the occupying, this is wide ranging as an exploration of something fundamental to cinema. Citing more than a hundred sources this is at once an individual's and a collaborative effort. Those contrasts central to the thesis, the antithesis, the synthesis. Light allows both seeing and being seen, and authority and polity have opinions each upon those.

You can trace a series of events to the quest for light, to it becoming cheaper. See its echoes not only in north facing windows in scriptorums but the shapes and names of harbours. Whitby only went into whaling because Napoleon put French ships beyond trade, and while it was coal that gave Cook the ships to go out and find Terra Australis it was oil that the Industrial Revolution hungered towards. All a quest from bible to barrel not just for illumination but for power. In lofty looks at Aleppo we see the consequences of power misused, abused, no longer used. See the shadows lengthen across the desert, those small oases of settlement no longer connected by infrastructural filament, the oppression, the barbarity, literally seen as a dark age.

Aivazian's work is short, almost chaotic, but it shines a light on a consideration for any technology. That which can be wielded for good can as readily be wielded for ill. There is no colour coding here as of the sabers of Star Wars, this is a place where black and white may themselves serve the same goal. To conceal, to reveal, to appeal. This film does each, and is worth looking out for. In presenting a complex topic it indicates a quality of film-making that one might blink and miss, but as an indication of talent it cannot be overlooked.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2022
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A sensorial meditation on how the public administration of light and darkness became an essential policing tool.

Director: Haig Aivazian

Year: 2021

Runtime: 17 minutes

Country: Lebanon


GSFF 2022

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