As every year the Auditorium of Barcellona Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) was the venue for the three-day festival (14th, 15th and 16th June 2007) SonarCinema : the section dedicated to the evolution of the image in movement.
What caught the eye clearly in the selection dealt with by the curators Andy Davies and Advanced Music was the intention to offer a heterogeneous and multifaceted programme consisting of those contemporary audiovisual productions characterized by their particular attention to the relationship between music (we might say electronic music, but since we are dealing with Sonar the reference to the term “avanzada” is inevitable) and image. Beside contemporary production some Devo’s videos were presented, with the idea of critically re-evaluate a way of envisaging which have been definitely neglected by mainstream culture. Moreover, the documentary film ” Derailroaded ” dedicated to the American singer Larry Fisher was showed.
By embracing in its exhibitions audiovisual forms of art typical of current artistic avantgarde expressions, animation, musical videoclips and experimental cinema, the festival has showed a possibile sampling of Avanzada Image. Yet, looking more carefully, what was missing in Sonarcinema section was the very cinema, that is to say the films. Everything but films. That absence is not casual or episodic at all, since during this kind of festivals which give primary importance to music (electronic or “advanced”) in their structure, all the emphasis is put on audiovisual experimentations thus neglecting what is commonly known as “film” . By the way, eleven sections, four between films and documentaries, sixteen videoclips and thirty experimental short films shot with new digital technologies. All completed by a particular attention to music, because the ten-hour programme of Sonarcinema 2007 has been music for the eyes this year too!.
– Zidane, un Portrait du 21e Siècle
Direction and Screenplay : Douglas Gordon e Philippe Parreno; Photography: Darius Khondji; Editing: Hervé Schneid; Audio mixing: Tom Johnson; Original music: Mogwai; Production: Anna Lena Films et Naflastrengir; Distribution: United International Pictures; Country: Francia/Islanda; Anno: 2006; Durata: 90′.
“From te starting kick to the final whistle. Madrid, Saturday 23 rd April 2005. Who could have imagined that in the future you would be able to remember this extraordinary day as a walk in the park. Face to face, as closer as possible, as long as possible”. This words, showed as subtitles to the images, open the 90-minute documentary “Zidane, un Portrait du 21e Siècle”, an amazing work of art on the border between the concepts and the agiography of a contemporary legend.
The film, made by the artistic couple Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno , reports the whole Spanish championship football match between Real Madrid e Villareal which took place at the huge Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday 23rd April 2005. The ocumentary is not about the match anyhow, because its sole aim is to chase every single movement of Zinédine Zidane with 17 cameras, constructing a portrait which lasts the whole event’s length. The work gets inspiration from the documentary shot for the German tv (it was West Germany) by the German filmmaker Hellmuth Costard who in 1970 filmed the deeds of the legendary George Best during a match between Mancester United and Coventry City (“Fußball wie noch nie”, also known with the title “Soccer As Never Before”) and it is part of the multifaceted artistic path the two artists have been building singularly for a couple of decades. Compared to Costard’s work, the methods of image production and of sound recording and post production are different.
For the images 17 high resolution 35mm cameras have been used in order to catch details from a distance which seems immeasurable. The director was Darius Khondji (a famous photography director who cooperated with first-rate productions, such as the very popular “Se7en” by David Fincher, or “Stealing Beauty” by Bernardo Bertolucci and worked with directors such as Alan Parker, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Sydney Pollack).The sound is amazing too; you can hear Zidane’s footsteps on Bernabeu’s grass. And it is the sound element, not “natural” at all, on the contrary, artificial, which links the single instants and the different points of view creting a real time plot . The outer space dimension, that we can define astral, is a constant caracteristic in both Serrano’s and, mainly, in the Scottish Douglas Gordon’s artistic production and it is openly evoked in the only moment of the detachment from Zizou’s movement on the football pitch. When the first half ends, we can see a series of events occurred in the world, on planet earth, during that Saturday 25th April 2005; small episodes and important occurrences happening together in front of us like a nonsensical show . Told in few frames with the pathetic music of the Mogwai (where by the adjective pathetic we mean what arouses emotion and sympathy), we are reminded that life does not belong to us and that everything goes by relentlessly and pointlessly.
When images take us to Najaf , among the rubbles of an explosive attack which caused the death of nine people, we get a glimpse of a t-shirt with the name of Zidane on it. Among those images there are some which talk about the boundaries of the known universe, casting on the whole operation the light of a frozen “here and now” recorded for the posterity of an indeterminate future. Here can be found the sense of the operation, as the title, portrait of the 21st century, implies, or the didactic incipit that opens the film “From te starting kick to the final whistle. Madrid, Saturday 23 rd April 2005. Who could have imagined that in the future you would be able to remember this extraordinary day as a walk in the park. Face to face, as closer as possible, as long as possible”.
As an omen that that will be his last match, a few seconds before the match ends Zizou would be dismissed and leave the field of play among applauses. In this film the complete Zinedine Zidane is shown, with both good and bad sides, with his strange way of moving across the field absorbed in a dark silence, a player who has lit the last football decade up, as a comet whose bright trail will be seen for years and years to come, yet concealing its real nature, aloof and evasive. The intense melancholy of the film almost drives to tears. It was presented at Cannes Festival in 2006, shown in French cinemas and nominated for Cesar Awards (the equivalent of the Italian David, or of American Oscar) in Best Documentary category. Among associated producers the Turin Sandretto Re Baudengo Foundation , a bit of Italy for an extraordinary work.
– Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!
Director : Nathanial Hörnblowér (aka Adam Yauch, aka MCA); Editing : Michael Boczon, Remi Gletsos, Phil Knowlton, Neal Usatin; Original Music : Mike D, Doug E. Fresh, Adam Horovits, Money Mark, Adam Yauch; Cast : Beastie Boys, Mix Master Mike, Doug E. Fresh; Producers : John Doran, Nathanial Hörnblower; Production : Oscilloscope Films; Distribution: THINKFilm; Country: USA.; Year: 2006; Duration: 90′ .
Fifty Hi8 cameras, fifty different points of view from where to watch – from the inside the gig the Beastie Boys played on 9th October 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The result has been 75 hours of shooting condensed in 90 minutes of vision; unity of time and space through a multiple point of view. Behind the pseudonym of Nathaniel Hörnblowér is Adam Yauch, aka MCA , one of the members of the legendary trio fron New York, guest of honour of the fourteenth edition of Sonar. Thus a homage, as well as an outstanding audiovisual work characterized by a complex structure, both technically and syntactically.
The event is created by dilating the point of view spatial dimension, by alternating different views to the continuum of the concert . The intention is to communicate a presence in the real world, with a first part where the main character is the city of New York real umbilical cord of BB world. The camera smoothly move to the Madison Square Garden over which, as in a profane rite, a strange celebration of words and music. Thanks to the choice of a multiple point of view the film gives real importance to the active role of the audience, who is not considered simply as the sparring partner of the show-man of the moment but also for the unique and unrepeatable value of their single point of view.
The different points of view are literally mixed and sampled between them as they are musical beats with no restraints, in a wild and unrelentless search for digital effects which deform-blur-alter the often unsettled analogic images of the Hi8 cameras. The aesthetics behind this work is the extreme opposite of the last Madonna’s live DVD (“Confession on tour”), where the perfect and glossy image has been substituted by a sweaty and involved one. In Italy the film was projected during Rome Film Fest in October, while the premiere took place at hte beginning of 2006 during Sundance Film Festival. It is available in DVD in which you can freely move among the 50 images recorded by the cameras.
– Sónar around the world. ( Import/Export)
Being self-referential is an inevitable desease. This documentary, shot by the tv programme Sputnik which is broadcast on Televisió de Catalunya, is directed by Jofre Font and Josep Maria Salat and celebrates the worlwide success the Catalan festival has achieved. It shows a whole year of travelling of the export project SonarSound around the world, display of the Advanced Music and multimedial art. The frantic and complex tour starts from Barcelona, then goes to Buenos Aires, Hamburg, Tokyo and Seúl. We get to know better the brilliant trio Advanced Music, consisting of Enric Palau, Sergio Caballero e Richard Robles , trying to grasp, during the 65 minutes of the documentary, as many ideas as possible, which seem to be created relentlessly. Starting as a local event, with the passing of time Sonar has become a creativity forge which has influenced the whole planet
With “Sónar around the world” a method to communicate to those people who do not know the real cultural, productive and economic importance Advanced Music has achieved with its project has been created. During the projection one of the most recurrent feelings I experienced was envy… Around the world, inside the Sónar!
– Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Wild Man Fischer
Director : Josh Rubin; Photography: Bryan Newman; Editing: Josh Rubin, Jeremy Lubin e Howard Leder; Sound: Torrel Alexis; Producer: Jeremy Lubin (Ubin Twinz Productions); Country: USA; Year: 2005; Duration: 86′.
Described as the missing link between Syd Barrett and Homer Simpson, Larry “Wild Man” Fischer is a living legend of songwriting and one of the most eccentric voices of America underground scene of the last three decades. Derailroaded , the documentary by Ubin Twinz (Josh Rubin directs while Jeremy Lubin deals with production) , follows the artistic development of that cult figure “homeless” musician, psychotic singer, paranoid artist who fascinated famous artists such as Frank Zappa (with whom he collaborated in two records) and other celebrities of North American pop counter-culture, Mark Mothersbaugh included (member of Devo, as well as excellent cinema composer) with whom he recorded many of his legendary albums.
At the latest Cannes Festival a documentary which openly declared its intention to illustrate David Lynch‘s mind (and its creative processes) was presented. In the same way here the wild Fischer is chased and probably a bit of his soul stolen. In return we get an unstable portrait of a crazy meteor in the pop culture firmament overseas. The man we get to know is really able to touch our feelings…
Devo’s videos have been among the first examples of post-modern popo culture, able to anticipate times and decide trends in the development of this activity. Lo-fi and kitsch, the videos shot by Jerry Casale (legendary member of the band from Akron, Ohio) have also been a reflection about the contemporary times characterized by a strong critical hint of American life style in the 80s. Sonar’s selection, celebrating their first live performance after more than fifteen years in Europe, aims at praising their work and reminding their pivotal importance in the music world as we know it now. What they did as absolute pioneers would soon become essential in every promotion of one’s own music and aesthetic of every seriuos discographic operation. Surely it is rather fruitless to try and find a founder of video clips, yet Devo really are next to modern video clip zero-point.
The attention Devo gave to audio-visual instruments as a way to spread their extremely personal de-evolutionary theory already started in 1976 with their short film The Truth About Devo, a work which, thanks to critics’ appreciation, allowed them to become known as they would have never become otherwise. From that point on and for a bit less than a decade, the Ohio band fully developed its own view of contemporary times using music and images with a group of videos which SonarCinema showed in its whole and that can be summarized with “Beautiful World” ‘s refrain (1981): “Its a beautiful world / For you / Its not for me!”. One can maybe say that before MTV there had bee the DEVO.
– Koichiro Tsujikawa
Koichiro Tsujikawa (born in Tokyo in 1972) is one of the most important and famous videoclipmakers at present. He could be considered the most famous Asian director of the contemporary audio-visual genre and compared to super stars such as Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham e Spike Jonze to whom SonarCinema dedicated broad retrospectives of their best works in the past editions.
This year has been Tsujikawa’s turn, with 10 of his works which show through images his wild visionariness which have become popular thanks to the artistic cooperation with the amazing genius of Cornelius (who showed up at Sonar the night of 15th). Everybody remembers his excellent Drop (where the main character is a child dealing with a handbasin full of water), but few know the recurrent style of the visual obsessions of Tsujikawa now nearly 40. The Japanese master’s stop-motion technique is in perfect harmony with the repetitive and syncopal rhythmics of Cornelius’ music so that the videos’ visual style seem created together with music, thus perfectly synthetizing music and images. That is what makes each of the ten episodes of the filmaker’s artistic career a little-big masterpiece. High-tech and slow motion blend, creating a great example of synthesis of the cinema of the origin’s techniques and those of the present times. The direction is that analyzed and described by Lev Manovich in his famous “The Language of New Media”, as the convergence and revitalizing point of contemporary cinema.
A selection of 7 videoclips which represents an arbitrary yet efficatious sampling of the state of videoclip art of the latest year more or less. The directors who have been selected had mostly started to produce from 2000 on, representing the real evolutions in musical videos, which have apparently evolved from Devo’s times on
Get Down. Dir: Pleix. M: Groove Armada
Rabbits tend to reproduce at a very fast pace, but in this video they seem to be lustful and particularly aggressive as well. Pleix, the director of the last video of the British Groove Armada, creates white estranged rabbit with a mood definitely inspired by Japanese manga universe. In the last years Pleix has shot some of the weirdest and most eccentric videos, among which the dark “Birds” of Vitalic, where some dogs are tossed in the air.
The State We’re In. Dir: Ne-o. M: Coldcut
Stop motion and visual effects within an aseptic office inhabited by Asian white-collars. All synchronized with a Coldcut’s song (who are represented by two videos in this section). The director is Ne-o, a young promising artist of music animation.
We Share Our Mothers Healt . Dir: Motomichi Nakamura. M: The Knife
Red, black and white are the only colours used to tell, with round stylized silhouttes, a parable about the pain it takes to achieve one’s aims. The main character is a post-modern Eve looking for an esoteric apple. The director of this wonderful video-clip is the artist of Japanese origin Motomichi Nakamura, a real master of Flash software, with his essential and extremely peculiar style.
U=Utopia. Dir e M: Tuomas Toivonen
Rigorous architect but at the same time many-sided artist, Toivonen is a Finnish full of resources and creativity. Here his directing velleities are shown through images accompanying his beautiful song from his latest album sagaciously entitled “New Album”. Temporal suspension and dilatability. Whoever is interested in cold gloomy places should watch (and listen) it. The good thing of Sonar is that after the projection the artist is there, on stage, close to you …
A Whistle and a Prayer. Dir: Woof Wan-Bau. M: Coldcut
Woof Wan-Bau directs videos since the beginning of 2000. He is a young creative talented person who has already won many prizes and cooperated with famous artists such as Mogwai, Four Tet and Coldcut. This video is strongly influenced by Radiohead and succumbed to the temptation of re-creating a re-interpretation of the well-known “Paranoid Android”: here the main character is the red shape of a girl moving in a childish world yet gloomy and menacing.
Wishing Bone. Dir: SSSR. M: Subtle
SSSR is a collective project from London which includes three little animation genius: the Norwegian Kristian Hammerstad and Marc Raisbig and the Japanese Yu Sato. The result of their co-operation with the band Subtle was one of the most original video-clips around. Greatly epitomized by this “Wishing Bone”, the three SSSR’s work is the result of different techniques which create an image out of the ordinary .
Sloup. Dir: Imery Watson. M: Susumu Yokota
Imery Watson has been part of that big group of creative artists from New Zealand headed by Peter Jackson, who have been able to impose a new standard to cinema visual effects. In this video shot for the Japanese pop artist Susumu Yokota he shows the huge potentials 3d technique has.
One of the few Italian artists at the fourteenth Sonar edition has been the digital channel Qoob which, developed by Telecom Italia Media in co-operation with MTV Italia, has recently lauched its international version, which is even more open to inter-media. Qoob is among the main sponsors of the catalan festival, proving the great attention Italy pays to the strategic valorisation of the brand through events which are particularly sensitive to innovation and creativity (they will be at Elctrowave 2007 too). The very introduction graphics designs to every single projection created by the network witness their self-promotional intentions.
Through the selection of eight among the best audio-visual contributions uploaded by users , as well as the most professional and distinguished works, Qoob put the artistic potential of web 2.0 on stage. The result is really pleasing for the eyes and innovative, with its amusing and amused approach to audio-video solutions rich in clever inventions. A real fun!
Optically Illusion . Dir: Mauro-Vecchi. M: Whitest Boy Alive
Mauro Vecchi studied at DAMS and has been dealing with video production for nearly eight years . The video-clip presented at Sonar epitomizes some of the most famous optical effects perfectly synchronized to the Whitest Boy Alive’s groove. The idea is simple yet efficacious, proving that a good video starts from a good script or a good idea
Paintballing . Dir: Lovesport
What Sonar programme calls Lovesport is actually Grant Orchard of the London Studio Aka. Lovesport is a series dedicated to more or less probable sports broadcast (and financed) by the digital Qoob. The characters are small rectangles made of a handful of coloured pixels jumping up and down the frame. It is a war between two factions which try to win using weapons which shoot colours. The crazy brutality grows more and more thus threatening their very existence.
Aqua. Dir: Loper
A very short video-clip clearly home-made by Lorenzo Fernandez, who has taken care of every aspects of the creation. This short film looks excellent and at the same time shows what can be done with digital media . Just using After Effect software it has been possible to process an image obtained through the stop motion of an image in (fake) movement
Cityscan_3 . Dir: HFR-Lab. M: Synapsia
Behind the acronym HFR are Chiara Horn, Tommaso Franzolini e Davide Quagliola, three young video artists of Italian origins with a destructuring vision of urban space which is reconstructed using unusual and impossible shapes. Cityscan is a very wide series of variations of the same topic. In this short film we can see London rotated at 90° , running in front of our eyes from up downwards, destabilizing the usual spatial co-ordinates of a skyline vision.
Summer 01 . Dir: Mbanga
“The binary world”, those are the words accompanying the images of the video by the Roman Mbanga on Quoob.tv’s site. “Summer 01” is a short animation which represents reality through a binary code. To be honest the video-clip is not particularly original and was probably chosen to underline the festival is also open to those productions which are not necessarily perfect from a formal point of view .
Kids’n’Revolution . Dir: Louis Böde
Louis Böde is a project created by the writer Marco Mancassola. Louis Böde is a “creative band” consisting of a writer, two musicians and two visual artists. The images by Marco Rufo Perroni are animate by Nicola Vlla and tell a sad story about violence and how it is difficult to redeem one’s bad situation. A bitter story among the carefree spirit which has characterized this SonarCinema edition.
My Joy Remix . Dir: Rinomad. M: Fourtet
With this video, created for a Four Tet’s song, Rinomad (aka Rino Stefano Tagliaferro) was the winner of a Qoob channel contest and succeeded in making his outstanding work known. Thanks to Sonar he will increase its visibility. Here the images are completely deconstructed and follow the sound. Frame sampling in a continuous sound to explain “on commission” . The opposite of adding a sound-track. .
Spider . Dir: Nash Edgerton
This short film from Australia is one of the most classical cinematographic examples of SonarCinema . It is a standard short film (it lasts a bit less than ten minutes) ending with a coup de théâtre which is a genius intuition for the conclusion of the story. The predictable structure of the screen-play does not prevent the director Nash Edgerton from taking the audience completely by surprise. The film is essential and impressive and the moral is expressed at the beginning with the didascalic incipit ” It’s all a game, until someone looses one of their eyes “.
– Too Much Reality
For the very first time Cina took part at Sonar festival with a large group of its most talented musicians of Mùsica Avanzada. SonarCinema section dedicated a retrospective to the Asian country too. The curators were Pauline Doutreluingne and Beatriz Leanza of Platform China (one of the most active Chinese organizations at aglobal level, promoting and spreading Chinese contemporary art) and showed five short films witnessing the huge variety of Chinese creative offer. As every selection, it excluded much and frankly did not fully convince me though it presented one of the best works I’ve seen during those three days, the extraordinary short film by Sonag Tao . The impression one gets watching those works is that of a country stormed by a predominant consumer revolution which has transformed everything at a very fast pace and the attempt to get detached from it in order to analyse it rationally.
My Beautiful Zhangjiang . Dir: Sonag Tao
Within a modern building in the Zhangjiang area a young woman is chatting with a colleague using MSN Messenger. She says she is tired and she wants to sleep. Shortly after that she will deeply fall asleep on the computer keyboard. The young man will come to her desk and, taking her by her arm, he will take her out of the office. From that moment on a large amount of men will take the young woman around the urban landscape of this Chinese area which is experiencing the explosion of house-building. Her wondering will be stopped when she wakes up. The atmosphere reminds that of the Korean Kim Ki-duk, something between his ” 3-Iron” and the suburban pan shots of ” The Night” by Michelangelo Antonioni
Opera III . Dir: Wu Junyong
Opera is the third element of a series of animations by the thirty-year-old Wu Junyong, an extremely interesting and provocative creative talent who inerprets the soul of a country undergoing a deep change. The dark characters of the short film remind of medieval acrobats dealing with self-representation on a limitless theatre stage. The acrobats are the disquieting metaphor of Cinese political class. Junyong shows us a China open to the new with the controlled mediation of traditions.
A Miraculous Game . Dir: Feng Jiangzhou
Feng Jiangzhou is a popular Chinese musician and one of the representatives of the artistic avant-garde open to contamination from the best experiences of Mùsica Avanzada though always mediated by a critic interpretation of his own reality. The video shows old people moving with fans in their hands, following the timing of a common choreography fragmented by an editing which plays with the development of the group dance. As a virus, loop images are introduced, symbolizing the invasive character of modern changes which have altered millenary customs.
The Hidden Depth . Dir: Fang Er e Meng Jin
Meng Jin e Fang Er are two artists coming from Beijing and Chong Qing areas who first became famous as photographers on the wild Chinese modern art market. Their analysis is once again focused on the deep anthropological changes their country is undergoing or maybe suffering. Their photographic eye analyzes the changes in landscape too, a recurrent theme which characterizes the style of a worried generation watching their world changing
14 Rooms . Dir: Meng Jin
“14 Rooms” is an incredibly long, impossible long take, the result of careful video editing aiming at rendering the spatial continuity of an immense architectonic structure. This is the exploration of the spaces of desolate industrial remains.
– Black and White Electronic Short Films
The use of black and white as well as of unconventional methods, is the only common element which links the different works presented in this section, which includes some of the most interesting audio-visual digital artists of the last five years. In these creations graphics and electronic music tend to melt indissolubly. The result of the section has been, according to who is writing, definitely soporific, characterized by momennts of total audio-visual nonsense which cannot be interpreted in his unintelligible grammar since the excercise of style is exclusively done for its own sake.
Brilliant Noise . Dir: Semiconductor. M: Gaeoudjiparl
Die Arten . Dir: Didi Bruckmayr. M: Fuckhead
Order-Re-Order . Dir: Barbara Doser & Kurt Hofstetter
Void Seqz5 . Dir: n:ja
Flicker . Dir: Christina von Greve & Carsten Schulz
Cortos sonoros Short sound films
The video artist, photographer, painter and curator Zev Robinson , responsible for the project Artafterscience , selected a varied choice of short films where music and sound interact synergically. Robinson created an outline made of different material, from the careful work of Belgian artist Anouk De Clerq, to the genius of the conceptual work of Laure Prouvost. We can find political provocations in works such as “Foreing Policy” (where Condoleezza Rice pronounces , thanks to an extremely precise and careful sampling, the last public speech by Martin Luther King), “Little Flags” (where we wander through a patriotic black and white New York as in a state of shock with a Fugazi’s song as soundtrack) and “Mass Hysteria” (an editing which alternates fragments of “Night of the living dead” by G. Romeo and glossy images of American way of life in the 50s). Visual provocations or simple inventions support short films such as the crazy ” Gimme the Mermaid” by the legendary Negativland, or the very fast “Die Brücke”, so fast it can be hardly perceived by our eyes, or the disquieting “The End” which shows a post-catastrophe moment.
The potential fault of such a selection is the complete arbitrariness of the choices, which does not seem to be a Robinson’s concern. non pare essersi minimamente curato.Disorienting !
Horizon . Dir: Anouk de Clercq. M: Ryoji Ikeda
Luz Lenta . Dir: Dionis Escorza. M: Kassian Troier
Arde Lo Que Será . Dir: Avelino Sala. M: Gotan Project
Little Flags . Dir: Jem Cohen. M: Fugazi
Decir la Verdad No Es la Verdad . Dir : Dionis Escorza
Foreing Policy . Dir: Lyn Löwenstein
The End . Dir: Dan Moss
Die Brücke . Dir: Carlos Llavata
Mass Hysteria . Dir: Zev Robinson. M: Diego Dall Osto
Gimme the Mermaid . Dir: Negativland & Tim Maloney
The Meeting . Dir: Carlos Llavata. M: Bajic & Stojadinovic
Stong Sory . Dir: Laure Prouvost