Directors Lounge Screenings at Gallery Meinblau
spectres of light
film works by
Friday, 13 August 2010
D-10119 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Jari Haanperän lives in Berlin and together with Mirka Flander, his producer, he is running the gallery Suomesta. With his installations, Jari Haanperän takes up and further develops the idea of the Light Space Modulator by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Kinetik machines had already been developed much earlier, during a time when the movements of clockworks became the metaphor for the universe and the human body (as much as nowadays, computation has become a metaphor for brain functions). Although Jari's film works on the other hand appear very different to the abstract spirituality of Moholy-Nagy's light machine, the two constituting elements seem to be the constant source of inspiration for artist and filmmaker Haanperän: light and the spirited machine. However with Jari, these elements seem to evoke their opponents: darkness, which is needed for the effects of light, or lumen (Jari's and Mirka Flander's production company are called Lumenta Productions); and the darker ghosts. The spirit of enlightenment (of the mechanical age) does not only fight against darker forces, but seems to provoke them to appear from under the surface.
Maybe, in order to deal with darkness and those darker forces, we also need storytelling, dark humour and irony. At least, this is what Jari Haaperän is doing in his film works: he tells short stories, and even in his documentary "World of Light" it is the stream of narration that links all those experiences of lights in darkness that the images show, many of which he shot at night in Hongkong. In several of Jari's films, the story goes back to the mechanical age: "The Turkish Chess Machine" refers to the famous "Schachtürke", a mechanical Robot made by Wolfgang von Kempelen in Austria in 1769, which was driven by a chess-savy man inside a box underneath the robot. In Jari's version, however, there is nobody inside driving the mechanism. In "Kalavalo", on the other hand, the artist gives a surrealist vision of the first deep-sea exploration undertaken in a spherical steel box by biologist Charles William Beebe in 1930. Beebe finds that in the darkness of deep waters, alas, the fish create their own lights. This saying, don't we see the mechanical age as the succeeding period of enlightenment?
These films could still be seen just as dark-happy tributes to steam-punk or, in the case of "The Dark Side of the Car", to splatter B-movies, if Jari wouldn't have taken us further into present time and a more simple environment: in "Bang" the protagonist, a lonesome woman, receives a cardboard box, from which a revolver levitates. The gun, once in her hands, starts to haunt her, and just before it directs itself to the woman, we can see that she is actually sitting in a box herself: when she shatters the window glass in a frenzy, we can see the dollhouse from the outside. Consequently, we recognize another key motif of artist Haanperän, here: the dark haunted box (the doll house, the inside of the chess machine, the underwater capsule) and, it might be interesting to note, as much as we are obsessed by black boxes in our contemporary life, such as computer, mobile phone, digital camera, navigator, auto-pilot etc., when building his mesmerizing light installations, Jari mainly uses analogue technology, such as mechanical projectors, single lenses, wire frames and Edison light bulbs. Is this another clue for the artist's reference to the darkness of the black boxes?
In his most recent film work, "World of Light", however, there may be the hint for a turning point: Although the images all show images of dark spaces lit by multitudes of lights, in the narration a different idea emanates: what, if there will be too to many lights, too much light? Could it then be, that the future spectres will no more live in darkness but lie in light overflow, in over-lightenment? Like Jari, we still love the dark caves of cinema.
(Curated by Klaus W. Eisenlohr)
• Indoor Light
• The Dark Side of the Car
• The Turkish Chess Machine / Die Türkische Schachmaschine
• World of Light