Figures Pointing Outside the Frame
SAVAC is pleased to present MONITOR 12 Figures Pointing Outside the Frame, a video program co-curated by Toronto-based curator/artist Oliver Husain as well as Jakarta-based programmers at ARKIPEL International Documentary and Experimental FIlm Festival, Otty Widasari and Yuki Aditya. Following MONITOR 11’s program These Monsters are Real, this marks the second year that SAVAC invites a local curator to collaborate with international curator(s).
The works that make up the Figures Pointing Outside the Frame consider the peripheries of the image as significant as the content within. Whether film, video, or a still image, the technology dictates the parameters of the frame. Decisions an image-maker makes regarding the composition, duration, performance, and location further contribute to a viewer’s experience. Collaboration is formed between the technology, image maker, and subjects- though this collaboration is often expanded with elements, situations, and conditions beyond that which is scripted. In this way, the program advocates for the viewer to consider the environmental, labour, historical, economical, gendered, and social conditions that influence the constructed experience.
History, As Known by Everyone
Moving image, motion pictures, photoplay, and film all refer to a series of still images that are sequentially projected on a screen. The projection creates an optical illusion that is constructed in a particular way by the creator. The audience’s perception can be strongly affected by it through its sensory reception.
These still images are the result of a recording of the reality of human life. Consequently, the sequence of images becomes a reflection of this reality, then an imagination, until it reaches experimentation with what exists in reality. Therefore reflection, imagination, and experimentation take on their own reality, which is the reality of film.
As commonly known, film creates a culture on a global scale. Its universal language gives it the power of provocation to move the will of people. The language evolved from the development of technology becomes dominant. Its dissemination by colonialism to the colonies enriches the development of this language. As a result, as time goes by and as medias develop, the language of film ceases to be under the sole authority of its creator.
The performativity of a work of media is dependent on the technology that is utilized by the contemporary society. Audiovisual work, now under the authority of common people, shifts the dictatorship of the author. Control and authority are no longer absolute. This situation shows the vulnerability of power.
The Future that is Present Today
The films compiled in this program provide a glimpse into how art and media are situated contemporarily. Asking the question, where are the boundaries between the author, actor and spectator?
Sanaz Sohrabi’s video-essay Auxiliary Mirrors addresses idea of the collective camera by examining the case of Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt in the final match of the 2006 World Cup soccer. This iconic moment was constructed by the mass circulation through media, creating a plethora of images by a multitude of creators, for world-wide spectatorship. Despite being a highly documented and viewed incident, the multiplication of these factors make the “truth” about what happened between the two actors difficult to attain. Following this examination, Sohrabi turns to an archival photograph during the analog era; in which the role of the medium and its author is central.
While Sohrabi uses found images to highlight the intertwined relationship between author, actor, and spectator, Mohammad Fauzi film The Rain After explores this relationship in the midst of producing an image. For the duration of the film, a group of children in a residential area in Jakarta pose in front of the video camera in a manner that subjects typically pose for still images. . The subjects inside the frame possess a communal consciousness about the ambiguity of the work of camera (still or motion). As the actors wait for the creator and the audience waits for the actors, the absence of an event builds on everyone’s anticipation. The reciprocal provocation from the director to both subjects and audiences becomes clear.
A spectator’s subconscious expectation to be presented with the ‘truth’ is forwarded in Harkeerat Mangat’s Speculations on India. By using reenactment as a strategy, Mangat provides a space for fifteen Indian actors to reiterate common narratives about social, political, gendered, and economic issues. Shot on a train heading to Mumbai, the multiple cameras and microphones that record the actors’ performances on various train comportments are repositioned by various travellers. The repositioning of the camera affects the way viewres perceive the reality of the film, biased with the reality of location.
A director’s ability to repurpose narratives is mirrored in Nguyen Trinh-Thi’s video Landscape Series no. 1, which provides spectators with a series of found online press photographs in which a subject points in or beyond the frame. Trinh-Thi’s choice of sequencing these still images constructs a narration that each image did not possess individually. The viewer works to understand the repeated gesture of pointing in relationship to the act of witnessing in various landscapes.
Similarly using found images to narrate a story, Sumugan Sivanesan’s Alex and I: Moving Pictures traces the movements of Alex, a refugee of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Pictures of Alex include clippings from newspapers, self portraits and news items that circulated in online media, as Alex became an internationally recognised figure. Through the voice-over of Sivanesan, we are given the filmmaker’s view of Alex intentions through an analysis of self portraits and interviews, his own reflections as a consumer of both Alex’s personal images as well as the media’s, and finally what it means for Sivanesan for making this work. As the title hints, the film can be understood as a loose collaboration between the filmmaker and subject, who both counter the narrative offered by the media.
The issue of creator’s authority, and their relationship to their subject, is further discussed in Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Scene 38. In this short film, the director is self-aware of his own authority. He teases that control with playful experimentation.
Screening at Images Festival25 April 2017, 7pm
Screening in Halifax, NS10 June 2017, 7pm
Oliver Husain is a filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. Husain often starts with a fragment of a story that he encountered randomly, a rumor, maybe gossip. The outcome is a video or film, a text or a textile; something foldable that can be stored away easily, or something standing on thin chopstick legs.
Yuki Aditya lives and works in Jakarta, Indonesia. Yuki Aditya has been the festival director of ARKIPEL International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival since the first time in 2013, held by Forum Lenteng. He graduated from Fiscal Administration from University of Indonesia and managing several programs and one of the initiators of a platform together with audio visual collectives around Asia and Latin America.
Otty Widasari lives and works in Jakarta and has been a documentary filmmaker since 2001. She majored in journalism and visual arts. Besides documentary filmmaking, she produces video arts, painting, writing and media research. She published a book AKUMASSA: Community-Based Mass-Media Watching (2013). Her feature documentary The Dragon Who Walks on the Water (2012) was screened at DMZ Docs in Paju, South Korea.