directors lounge monthly screening series at z-bar
toby cornish and johannes braun /jutojo
Thursday, 25 Nov 2010
Discreet Structures, the title of the program with Toby Cornish and Johannes Braun, refers to the compositional qualities of their films. It also applies to the linking to local architecture or urban places, and to the ways the artists work with musical scores. Both artists' work mainly originates in Super-8 or 16mm footage, which they shoot and then process digitally. And most films are product of collaborations with musicians.
The two filmmakers, who both live in Berlin, also have achieved the impossible: As "Jutojo", and together with their third partner Julie Gayard, they work as a design collective, and they make a living with media-related commissions and projections for events, where they both design the content and the interior architecture bearing the screens. The commercial work developed from years of practice with live-mixing of visuals at nightclubs, where they used Super-8 footage of rather abstract images, light reflections, refractions, smoke, water and other visual effects. For the non-commercial work on the other hand they use realistic camera footage mostly of one specific location, for example the city of Sarajevo, or the former U.S. radar spy station on Teufelsberg in Berlin.
Two visits to Sarajevo in 2003 and 2004 gave Toby the opportunity to make a structural film in this historically and politically charged place. The bridge, where arch-duke Franz Ferdinand was murdered, which gave way to the declaration of war in 1914, the name Tito on a bridge, and the white graves of killed Muslims from the most recent war, all appear in the film but only as a backdrop, or as the ground on which the visitor stands, which may be similar to those Berlin visits when filmmakers cannot help but stumble over historically charged ground stones. If "Sarajevo Vertical" has or needs a symbolical/political reading is up to the viewer. First of all it is the rule of composition of filmmaker Cornish to align every image to a vertical line while shooting and then edit the film on principles of repetition, rhythm, acceleration and size of the vertical line.
Toby Cornish is interested in metric structures, in interferences of loops with different lengths, which due to their complexity might lead to a chance operation, similar to musical structures of John Cage or Steve Reich, and which in the end where the result may surprise the artist as much as the audience. With Rückbau, he takes this strategy further. With the help of digital programming, the film composes itself and anew on each presentation. At Z-Bar we will see this process unfold for 8 minutes, 8 mins of recombined composition of 15 mins of raw material. "Rückbau" is a German euphemism for destruction and of course refers to the tearing down of the "Palast der Republik", the former East German parliament and "house for the people". Toby thus also plays with memory on two different levels. First he uses places of which a collective memory exists, and second through repetition in his films: Some edits only work so well, especially at the end of Sarajevo vertical, because we complete the image from our visual short-term memory.
Johannes Braun, on the other hand is less interested in chance operations but in the totality of visual-acoustic composition. The film Teufelsberg also shows his background as trained architect. The images unfold his explorations of building structures while he tries to capture traces "of hope and disillusion, of making and destroying still to be sensed" in the rubble and the left-over walls. They also comment on already past (and forgotten) plans for future developments, including architecture drawings and a former model apartment of the already scattered utopia for a commercial hot-spot on Teufelsberg. The visually dense composition thus not only shows the beauty of the bygone structures but also contains an edge of irony.
Regenbaum (Rain Tree) shows the cycle of water with the example of the Rain Tree (bay laurel) on the island El Hierro on the Atlantic Sea. "There are no natural fountains and no rivers on El Hierro, all the water had to be gained from clouds and and from rain", Johannes states. The Rain Tree was considered saint by the elders, as the tree absorbs water from low clouds in the early morning and then lets the water "rain" from it's leaves, where it can be collected. The filmmaker Johannes tries to see the place, the elements and the vegetation as actors in his film, similar to how the native's mythology sees them.
With "Gaz", a collective product, the filmmakers again show their strength of working with compositional structures. Gaz was composed to a graphical score, which the filmmakers and the 2 musicians worked on independently of one another. The film celebrates the early industrial designs around gasometers and gas lights, still to be found in Berlin's city centre.
Toby Cornish and Johannes Braun will be present and available for Q&A after the screening.
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