Friday, April 27, 2007

Two Films

In front of me a ghostly figure moves through and around the black and white screen, in a pixellated world of shadows Takeshi Murata’s digitally distorted take on the Italian film ‘Black Sunday’ plays in front of my eyes. The ghostly female figure glides smoothly through the screen and with changing clarity and a rising and falling intensity Murata’s manipulations of the film move from the recognisable figure and features to a black, white and grey mix of pixels which slide, jump, contract and condense into a variety of movements and effects. The black & white film’s smoky feel is enhanced by these digitally manipulated sweeps and bursts, blocks of deep black or harsh white degrade to give way to streaks of grey as the animated elements change the background of this 1960’s horror film. Before my eyes faces and background’s become individually animated sweeps of smoke or water. The sense that Murata is making the original solid film liquid is further heightened by the ambient bubbling sounds of the Robert Beatty and Ellen Mollé soundtrack.

The film is an exercise in digital animation but unlike the clichéd manner of much digital film and video Murata has added depth to the already stunning existing visual material, much the same as a DJ manipulates existing recorded material or a jazz musician takes a standard and through indiviual stylings of improvisation makes it their own so Murata has enhanced the original film to create his own ‘Untitled (Silver)’, this digital visual remix becomes a powerful film experience in its own right.

The second film of Murata’s on show here in The Reliance Gallery in East London’s Old Street is ‘Untitled (Pink Dot)'. An intense pink dot burns brightly in the middle of the screen, around the edges of this single piercing dot of colour are movements of colour film. The colour flows from cloudy to sharp bursts of cinematic action, as time passes the pixels clear to show the recognisable figure of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, the main character bursts through scenes of murder and violence only to disperse into Murata’s warping manipulations, in this digital world the human figures meld then spread into loose shapes and movements, as clarity is lost the film shifts into shapes and colour reminiscent of clouds of slowly expanding dust, these powdery colours then subside into slicks reminiscent in movement and shape of oil on water.
Occasionally the action returns to the recognisable film only to move back into dreamlike, shifting, abstract animations. Filmic references give way to the abstract animations, then painterly sweeps of colour, oil on water becomes oil on canvas.

It appears that with these films Murata is playfully speculating on the contemporary battles between the analogue and digital worlds. In both films Murata creates an animated battle between the existing film material and the powerful actions and possibilities of the digital, the film moves through Murata’s processes of digital degradation and reforming. The breaking and reshaping of the cells and pixels give the impression of a film fighting for literal and metaphorical resolution. Perhaps what we are seeing is the final battle between the past and present of film, the last wars between the analogue and digital tribes, to a view of the possible future of cinema.

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