Negative Space is a reflection on the invisible in visual art, and the desire to see. It seeks to inspire the viewer's imagination of what might be there to discover, but is engulfed by darkness. It is also an homage to femininity and youthful joy.
This film is my first project to be produced entirely analog, from the raw footage to the final screening copy with optical soundtrack. It was shot on ORWO UN54 16mm black and white negative stock on location in Queens, NY, in September 2014. Special effects have been created with a computer-controlled optical printer. The soundtrack was composed by Aaron Gorski.
Song of Nature translates the abstract filmic language of Dziga Vertov's and Walter Ruttmann's city symphonies of the 1920s into the natural environment of the national parks of the USA. A detailed analysis of Vertov's and Ruttmann's images, which are characterized by strong vectors, is the basis for the audiovisual composition of the film - the framing and editing reflect and analyze directly the highly affective, abstract filmic style of the city symphonies and thus the possibility to define the medium of film itself as an affective, universal language.
Song of Nature was shot on 16mm color negative stock (Kodak Vision3 250D and 50D) and edited in Avid Media Composer. It was shot on location in Badlands National Park (SD), Yellowstone National Park (WY), Glacier National Park (MT), Olympic National Park (WA), Crater Lake National Park (OR), Yosemite National Park (CA), Zion National Park (UT), Bryce Canyon National Park (UT), Grand Canyon National Park (AZ), Arches National Park (UT), and Canyonlands National Park (UT) in July and August 2013.
This film was part of my MA-thesis in the Media Studies program at The New School, NYC.
Man with a Movie Camera 2D is a translation and re-interpretation of Dziga Vertov’s project to create a “truly international language of cinema” in Viking Eggeling’s and Hans Richter’s medium, i.e. in 16mm 2D animation. Doubling Vertov’s initial aesthetic, abstract interpretation of cityscapes and city life by adapting Eggeling’s elementarization of natural forms, I carefully analyzed Man with a Movie Camera shot by shot and reduced its visually energetic images to their basic elements by translating brightness values of the black and white footage into colors with different brightness values, and shapes within the frame to simple, geometric forms. Using the “cut out” animation technique and a 16mm animation stand, I produced animated, two-dimensional, abstract images. Occasionally, the impression of three-dimensionality is created by using “replacements” (frame by frame, “cut outs” of larger or smaller dimensions are being replaced with each other in order to evoke the impression of growth or shrinkage when the film is projected or played back) and by overlapping. In a rhythmic (digital) edit, I seized many of Vertov’s experimental montage techniques (such as superimposition, extremely rapid, almost flickering cuts, and split screens). The roughly 2 minute film is thus related to Vertov’s film regarding the shape, number, distribution, and movement of elements within the frame, to Eggeling’s and Richter’s in its evenness of surface structure and two-dimensionality, and Ruttmann’s in its bold use of color.
Man with a Movie Camera 2D was shot on Kodak Ektachrome 16mm stock. It was part of my MA-thesis in the Media Studies program at The New School, NYC.
The footage for this film was shot on Kodak color reversal Super 8mm film in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, in December 2012, and finalized digitally (picture edit in Final Cut Pro 7, sound edit in ProTools). Digital transfer by Du-All Camera in NYC, music by Las Robertas.
This short film explores the human body and its sensory relations by framing it as “matter moving in space and time”. Stressing its weight, surface structure, kinetic abilities and flexibility, this piece is an abstract audio-visual experience of the dancing body in digital video. The dancers developed a choreography specifically for the purpose of filming it with a small digital camera, which was attached to different body parts of the dancers. The choreography comprises dynamically changing, contrasting levels of speed, rhythm, closeness and magnitude of movement in order to create an engaging, dramatic narrative structure. The images conceived show the human, dynamic body from new, surprising angles and are, although highly familiar, also highly abstract. The editing aims at being smooth to the extent of imperceptibility and thus to disorient the viewer with regards to spatial relations and point of view. This effect is supported by a multi-layered sound track, which combines recordings of breath and friction of body parts and pieces of clothing against each other as well as ambiance sound.
Dance With Me! was shot on location in Brooklyn, NY, with a GoPro Hero 2 and edited with Avid Media Composer. It was part of my MA-thesis in the Media Studies program at The New School, NYC.
The point of departure for Côte à Côte (French, “Next to each other”) was my final project for Sam Ishii-Gonzales' class “Jean-Luc Godard: Art, Theory, Politics”, which I produced in December 2012, titled “Il n’y a plus d’images simples”. It is a video essay consisting entirely of Godard's original footage, which analyzes stylistic characteristics of his video work between 1974 and 2000 and their implications for the sense-making process in the filmic experience. The essay is inspired by Phillippe Dubois' essay “Video Thinks What Cinema Creates: Notes on Godard's Work for Video and Television”. My aesthetic strategy for “Il n’y a plus d’images simples” was to reflect on Godard's stylistic decisions by extracting key moments from his works and reassembling them in a 10min video, applying the same techniques as the film author himself. A voice over commentary explicates my inquiry on a theoretical level.
Based on my first foray into an analysis of Jean-Luc Godard’s work in video in fall 2012 I formulated the hypothesis that with starting to work in video in the early 1970s, Godard moved away from a post-marxist, foucauldian critique of the politics and aesthetics of film and their relation to meaning-making, which he pursued in the 1960s, to an aesthetic, videographic exploration of a new kind of knowledge production which relates images, sounds and bodies in new, non-representational ways. The goal of creating “Côte à Côte” was a) to prove this hypothesis through an in-depth analysis of Godard's video work with the terms of non-representational theory and b) to find the appropriate means of expression to do so. I also wanted to transcend the work I already did by considering how Godard's film and video work changed after he re-introduced analog film making into his tool box and by looking for traces of his later work in video in his early filmic works of the 1950s and 60s.
My main concern was to find a form of expression that transgresses representational forms of filmic creation, a form of expression that would allow me to make the non-representational elements of Jean-Luc Godard’s work experienceable without merely imitating them. At the end of my production process, I am confident that the result meets this criterion. In it’s final form, "Côte à Côte” consists of two nearly identical video loops, which are displayed next to each other either on two distinct screens or as a split screen within a single video frame. The loops consist of footage from several film and video projects of Jean-Luc Godard, which has been chosen for its degree of formal experimentation with the medium. I also 'remixed' original footage of Godard by applying techniques that are specific to his video works to excerpts of his film works, thus exploring alternate ways of creating meaning as medium-specific potentialities. The two loops differ from each other in the sequence, length and number of the excerpts as well as their degree of manipulation by me. Mine as well as Godard's artistic intervention in the creation of meaning through different motion picture formats will thus be explicated through their juxtaposition, without the need for explication by e.g. the use of voice over.
This film is an homage to the French film author Jean-Luc Godard and his unique use of audiovisual abstraction in order to create a highly affective reaction in the viewer. By investigating Godard’s filmic handwriting in the interplay of color, music, and the spoken and written word, »HOMMAGE« studies the expressive potential of camera-aware filmic portraits as they can be experienced in three of Godard’s early movies: Le Mépris (1963), Alphaville (1965) and La Chinoise (1967).
This film is my first every foray into the realm of motion pictures. It was shot on Kodak 16mm color negative stock and edited digitally in Final Cut Pro 7.
Photographs are often described as “windows that open up a view into another world”. Looking at a photograph, we perceive an imaginary, 3-dimensional photographic space which seems to extend the frame of the picture. The picture itself seems to function as a peephole – or, for that matter, a window to that imaginary space. In our perception, this imaginary space is separated from the empirical space - i.e. it is impossible to enter that space, to cross the border between empiric (real) and photographic (imaginary) space. However, we rarely think about this border because it is invisible. This photographic work aims at making this imaginary border visible.
For an informal selection of additional photographic work, check out my Flickr.
A Cinematic Lunatic Trial is the attempt of four NYC based filmmakers (Angelica Vergel, Christopher Gorski, Laura Trager and Tzuan Wu) at creating a film in total collaboration. Every step of the filmmaking process was approached collectively, from conception to post production. The film was shot on ORWO UN54 16mm black and white film stock and post produced in Avid Media Composer. The photos to the right are behind-the-scenes still images taken during the shoot in February 2015. Video access can be made available upon request.
This project is a memento of the friendship of four young analog filmmakers, bound by their love of cinema. It delves into the strange language of cinema, where angels and ghosts populate a world of terror and beauty.
La Liberata is an adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll House and Strindberg's Miss Julie. I collaborated with director Brooke Bell on three short video segments that were projected as part of the theatrical live performance.
adapted by Sanam Erfani
directed by Brooke Bell
performed on March 16, 2013
at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St, New York, NY
photos by Tim Schreier