Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Finite Blue Planet #2

by Gai Anderson

Water as Danger  


PHIL HASTINGS 

Steadfast, 2009

Water continues as a theme in the 7-minute film Steadfast, where U.S. artist Phil Hastings uses the interaction of man and water to comment on the human condition – which like the ocean is ever changing.

This darkly atmospheric film uses a clever juxtaposition of three layers of image to viscerally evokes both the danger and vicissitudes of the ocean. At the front, a boiling sea builds to thunderous waves that break right over us from our crabs - eye view amongst the spume on the shore. At the same time just behind, another scene slowly appears through the cold grey mists – a cold shoreline, leafless trees, a house offering the possibility of safety, as high above seagulls float in and out apparently oblivious to what’s happening below.
Using very slow -motion imagery with a sound track of electronic buzzes and crescendos, our emotions are clearly manipulated by the story created on screen with its references to horror and lost-at-sea adventure movies. According to the artist it is “a 30-second clip stretched into seven agonizing minutes that tear at the mind.” As we wonder if even the house that offers possible safety will survive the onslaught.

Guido van der Werve

Everything is going to be alright, 2007

Danger and the sea are dealt with no less viscerally, but with much more mirth by Netherlands artist Guido van der Werve, in his tongue-in-cheek titled film.
Again using the juxtaposition of two images to invoke an emotional response,
the artists back ground as a performer is also obvious.

Set against the cold blue expanse of a frozen sea, a giant ice-breaking liner lumbers slowly towards us on a giant screen. Visually, it is a great black industrial slash against the still ness and beauty of the frozen blue landscape, but it is also an immense and powerful beast cracking effortlessly though the ice sheets.
But just in front, a man is walking - a tiny strolling silhouette against the giant lumbering ship, seemingly unaware of the incipient danger. His gait is playful like a small boy leading his giant pet forward, but at the same time he is the prey of this great Attenborough - ike a mechanical killer-whale that seems to be edging ever closer.
Guido van der Werve has now make more than 10 films of his work – working with long shots and juxtapositions to create emotive atmospheres.
Here he succeeds in creating not only a stunningly evocative visual landscape, but a riveting contradiction of emotional responses – the danger and beauty of the environment, the anthropomorphic threat of the unstoppable machine breaking through nature, set against the casual unencumbered strolling of the man.

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