Now Showing: SHAKE
Recycled Screenings hosts a video by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin
Dear readers and viewers,
As of today, Shake, a video by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin is available to stream for free via Recycled Screenings. The film will bee available until the end of the month via the platform’s website.
Recycled Screenings is a curated, free, donation-based platform through which video essay and other found footage filmmakers can screen their work. Goal one: to offer a space for filmmakers to debut new works or bring older works into the digital space for a limited time. This a not-for-profit initiative, with the second goal being to provide a way for creators to raise funds via donations. Learn more here.
The film is accompanied by a conversation about the work between Cristina, Adrian, and myself. We also wrote the following statements:
Recalling the work of experimental filmmakers like Harry Smith, Shake, one of the many collaborations between moving image polymaths Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, is a work grounded in rhythms of the eye, ear, and, for that matter, the whole body. Many will know Álvarez López and Martin best from their video essays, a form they have helped pioneer. They are, perhaps, the video essay's best known collaborators, bringing to their work a palpable sense of living with sounds and images. One never knows the form their next video essay will take, or the subject it will explore.
Given their reputations as audiovisual essayists (the term they use), it is impossible to not think of Shake as one. But removed from that context, Shake, recalls various found footage and remix traditions. One could imagine it playing in a variety of venues: a gallery, a cinema, and, as it is above, on the web via Vimeo. Copyright concerns have kept this work offline and off the festival circuit in the years since its creation. Its exhibition history (or lack thereof) deserves just as much attention as the work itself, as it reveals so much of the work still to be done with regard to found footage, and how difficult it remains for filmmakers to screen work they have every right to share.
- Will DiGravio
Inspired by David Bowie’s evocation of a “non-linear hyper-cycle” in his uncompleted 1990s project Outside, we look at a micro-poetic series in the various parts of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks saga made before The Return (2018): its system of motion, animated movements of all kinds.
In a curious series of published diary notes written during the first broadcast of Twin Peaks in France in the early ‘90s, the legendary critic Serge Daney reflected on particular aspects of the series. He relates Lynch’s TV style to a certain aspect of Mannerism in art: the characters are like little fishes, doing their last, spastic movements once removed from their aquarium environment. They are “animate[d] from outside” and their “movements are very particular: convulsive, made as parody … and eventually fatal. After the movement stops, it's enough to instil it from outside by treating them like inert toys, puppets, freeze-frames”.
One of the main manifestations of these types of animated character movement comes, in Twin Peaks, from the gestures of turning and shaking. Many of these occur in circular forms: the turning circle is an obsessive motif for Lynch. Shaking, which we also see a lot of in Twin Peaks, has a mythological resonance tied intimately to sexuality: in the Jewish tradition of demonology, for instance, “demons are pure spirits who, having been created by God on Friday evening at dusk, could no longer receive bodies, for the Sabbath had already begun” – and so they seek to possess the bodies of men in order to masturbate violently, shaking out and wasting the seed of life.
This type of possessed or hysterical movement is further related to the many types of mechanical apparatus that – like the telephones and lights in Twin Peaks, which we treated in an earlier audiovisual essay, Short-Circuit (2015) – either look uncannily strange in their proper functioning, or again go berserk: mechanical apparatuses that range from the automated wood-saw machine in the opening credits of the series, to the coffin levers that take Leland up and down at Laura’s funeral. And while Twin Peaks has its own Julee Cruise song about circular, repetitive movements (“The World Spins”), in Shake we make use of a track from Bowie’s Outside which rings with all these motifs of motion: “The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty)”.
Utter destruction as beauty: Bowie and Lynch are united in their love of opposites, their ambiguous fusion and spectacular inversion.
Note: We have further explored the Bowie/Lynch network of connections in our 2015 essay/lecture presentation “Outside/Twin Peaks”: http://filmcritic.com.au/essays/outside_TV.html
- Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian Martin (October 2020)
I encourage you all to check out this fantastic work, and please consider sharing the link. Thank you very much!
All the best,