• For further information about the Fenton photographs, included images of the two photographs, see http://www.alteredimagesbdc.org/fenton/
• Errol Morris’s essay on the Fenton photographs “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?” is included in his book Believing is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography) [The Penguin Press, 2011]
• Susan Sontag’s essay on the Fenton photographs “Looking at War: Photography’s view of devastation and death” was first published in the New Yorker December 9th 2002
Vladimir Morozov: A Very Long Play Vinyl (10 minutes, 2015, Russia)
The film consists of close-up TV commercial-like images of a record on a turntable, alternating with scenes set against music preumably from the LP. The music is vaguely familiar classical Pops, each piece matched by a scene set in pastoral Russia. One revels in the pairings, one humorous, the next sombre, another Dadaist. The subject of this film is neither stereo technology, the musical excerpts, nor the tiny narratives of each segment, but another indescribable, uniquely cinematic expressivity that emerges from the combination.
Tessa Garland’s Here East (6 minutes, 2017, UK).
A pink sky frames silhouetted figures staring out of a threatening modernist building, while leaves shudder on dark trees. A crime scene? No, external research reveals that “Here East” is the name of the latest London business development owned and financed by international conglomerates, a glass geometry dedicated to technology startups. Fixed shots of shirts hang in windows like omens as darkness is falling —permanent darkness? The shadow of mortality once again hangs over the film. Still figures glimpsed through glass, a low throbbing soundtrack, televisions. It seems like the afterlife of a failed civilization, in which all inhabitants, eyes fixed on their screens, are constantly under observation, and any remnant of a natural world has dissipated. The figure of a young man moves from room to room, then five lights like a creature’s eyes dim to darkness. Where are we? Why are we here? What has gone wrong?
Maarit Suomi-Väänänen: Minispectacles as Nice as Pies (5 minutes, 2017, Finland)
Rather than withholding information, this filmmaker’s approach is to describe everything on screen, both profilmic and cinematic. The film is a short documentary about preparing Karelian Pies, a favorite Finnish food speciality. Like a sports announcer, a commentator relentlessly reports what is seen and heard, including technical elements such as sound effects, interstitial blank screens, and title cards. But there is always more to a cinematic image than can be described. In this case it is as if the excess of information deliberately avoids the most important element of the film—its political underpinning. Minispectacles . . . documents a program to teach recent African refugees to prepare regional foods, at once welcoming them, passing on a skill appropriate for their new home, and beginning to integrate them into a foreign culture. One has to read the end credits diligently to get what is at stake in this apparently simple, elegant piece of work; and thereby to compare it to the policies toward refugees in other Western countries, especially our own.