I am inventing you as you are (baselessness)

Screening curated by Ed Atkins as part of the ‘Flatness: Cinema after the Internet’ thematic programme for Oberhausen Short Film Festival 2013.

A program of recent moving image works that explore 'flatness' as a contemporary ontological category, an emotional state and a digital morphology. Via tacit discussions of the screen, fully-deployed networks – vast, taut digital dermis, representational limit, glass RINKS, etc. – these works show how ideas of flatness might be excited, critiqued, into hysteric peaks and troughs.
–According to a dysphoric misanthrope sat hunched at his laptop.

‘Flatness’ to describe the abutting surfaces of intimate and finite encounters, also – both the featureless, post-apocalyptic outlook of a depressed symptom and as a clay ground to be excavated and piled-high.

A tectonics of emotional affect to redeem flatness, then.

Being a list of the metaphorical possibilities for ‘depression’ in its synonymic verbal form and clinical nounal form, also.

As in: metaphor literalised to death.

To depress this flatness is to repeal its determined condition by thrusting it downward – creating huge, yawning depressions several kilometres deep.

And once we’re there: that *other* flatness of univocal and featureless negativity. –And an iPad’s gyroscopic heart cooling with this tilt toward the moon.

And it’s very hard to climb back out.

I like to watch archive footage of fagged stand-up.
You like to watch pneumatic, hetero-stale, oatmeal-porn.
We like to watch state funeral coverage.
He likes to watch drastic, surgery-stooping makeovers.
She likes to watch parochial videography on shagged CRTs in the dim, sweet rooms of provincial museums.
It likes to watch the crude brush-strokes, made.
I like to watch catch-up TV. You like to watch the info-graphics proving culpability.
We like to watch for the change on departure boards.
He likes to watch the scene unfurl through the fat GRID of a portcullis.
She likes to watch the decline.It likes to watch the blue ECG and the blue light fade.


'Hindbrain Accompaniment' (2013) Ed Atkins

'I am inventing you as you are' (2013) Ed Atkins

James Richards Rose Bud, 2013, HD video with stereo sound, 9 minutes 40 seconds

Two possibilities of intimacy are essayed in Jim’s video. The censorious violence visited upon Tillman’s and Mapplethorpe's signal photographs describes a personal as well as a cultural frustration that is at once impotent and terrifying in its determination. That these are ‘merely’ images being disabused serves simply to affirm the reality of equivalent gesture. Extreme touch is countered in the video’s various close-ups: an elderflower sprig moving with shivering tenderness across a man's skin, in follicular and loving detail; the goose-bumped, tattooed surface of a dollar bill; some cosmic hinterland beneath the surface of a pond. These kinds of touches, probes – kisses – beautifully enunciate an ethics of separateness. In form as well as implicit thesis, Jim promotes the tender discretion of people, of others; of allowance and of getting as close as possible and of confessing responsibility.

Ed Atkins Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths, 2013, HD video with 5.1 surround, 12 minutes 50 seconds

This video is set in a conspicuously unlivable situation – somewhere between the airlessness of data and the Mariana Trench. A place where human life would be impossible but, here, persists regardless – in some revenant form between memory, absence and hefty, fleshly immutability. I wanted to confront performance proper, at its limit, I suppose. The performance of grief, love, sexuality – convoluted, aphoristic, vernacular poetry: a world of apparently unperformable truths. I want, I suppose, to obviate the ‘truth’ of these sorts of affections through some sublime bit of artifice. So I want glamour, virtuosity, narcissism – the BAROQUE – to speak in paradoxes of heart-rending flat depth.

Ed Atkins Tease for Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths, 2013

Helen Marten Evian Disease, 2012, HD video, sound, 28 minutes 30 seconds

I'm fascinated – and horrified – by the complete absence of friction in the abject perfection of Helen's CG video. This is signified by the lack of foley, conspicuously – but more than that, nothing in this world makes any contact with anything else; not even the Pantone snooker balls. Two images ‘touch’ and produce a third image to skin yet another vacant non-space. Images, then, are inflated with codified faith; they weigh precisely the same as metaphor. Helen's piece presents a soundstage that is COOLER and significantly more slippery than black ice.

Frances Stark My Best Thing: Episode 10, 2011, video, 10 minutes

Frances’ episodic video is a classic – though of what, I’m not sure. It speaks of limits – intimate, sexual, mutual, productive – and insofar as these things remain inchoate throughout, it could be thought of as somehow dystopian, marking loss. That is, if it weren’t hilarious and, truly, inspirational. If we are going to conduct relations across fantasies, languages and vast distances – via avatars and surrogates – if we’re going to perpetually founder in our communications, fail to operate in the sufficiently declarative – I’d definitely want a relationship like this. I’d like to talk this kind of reckless, né suicidal pillow talk that, precisely because of its totally compromised range of expressions and dumb unnaturalness, comes across as totally true.

Bernadette Corporation Hell Frozen Over 2000, video, 19 minutes 30 seconds

Sylvère Lotringer waxing lyrical about Mallarméan fascination with the wrappings of nothing, while stood beside a frozen lake... This could very easily be the setup for some tenured, dumb joke. Which of course it is – while also being the opening gambit of BC’s brutal video. So if the video’s a joke, at who’s expense is it? To be laughed at by whom? –Jokes flatten the world into stereotypes; the academy flattens Mallarmé into canonical reverence and intelligibility; models flatten the possibilities of affective, afflicted bodies; ice skins the lake and convinces idiots of its surface, its traversable possibility – making depth as mythic as summer as told from the depths winter. Like breath on ice. The title of this video presenting nothing more or less than the impossible made possible. This possibility, however, seems pretty fucking unlivable. This being the hollow and ice-shagged heart.