Eye For Film >> Movies >> Wound Footage (2009) Film Review
Reviewed by: Josh Morrall
This six minute short is awe-inspiring.
It is a found footage film, relegating it to an under-seen subgenre of the avant garde and one hopes that it finds its niche audience at the Edinburgh Film Festival where it will be screened this year.
It is almost impossible to provide a synopsis or describe the content of any found-footage film as its enjoyment derives from the experience of the mutilated form. What Thorsten Fleisch has done here is to systematically abuse and recycle found 8mm footage from what appears to be the 1950s. He has filtered the footage through various projections and has then digitised the images.
The scratching and burning of emulsion on reels of film is no new thing. Stan Brakhage spent years toying with the possibilities of what would be seen by the viewer when heavily altered film reels passed through a projector and lit up a wall. His 8mm reels were so painstakingly crafted that the reels themselves were worthy of exhibition as artefact, most notably in the case of Mothlight (1963).
In Wound Footage, Fleisch goes one step further. He not only digitises the image, he intervenes in the process of digitisation. In a description of his crafting of the film he writes that he “somehow angered the cables that connect the monitor to my computer.” The effect of this is to find the occasional rogue pixel creeping in to the distorted image as the film progresses. This builds up until an analogue/digital mash-up is in full, beautiful swing. The voice of Rita Hayworth sounding as if it has been filtered through a car engine can then be heard as an audio metaphor for the beautiful brutality.
Referencing Brakhage’s 8mm experiments as well as, later on, Peter Kubelka’s flicker film Arnulf Rainer (1960), could leave the avant-garde enthusiast annoyed by Fleisch's presumption. However, the feeling is that Fleisch has made these references knowingly, and with fondness, as a means to show that he is genuinely advancing the form of the found footage film by attempting to merge it with the digital.
This is a superb addition to the genre and will be a true thrill to behold on the big screen.
If you can't get to Edinburgh, you can watch Wound Footage for free below. More of Thorsten Fleisch’s exceptional work can be accessed at his website.