RECONNAISSANCE

The term “reconnaissance” generally means an inspection or exploration—that which in the military field can be categorized as “intelligence.” Such connotations also inevitably arise with Johann Lurf´s RECONNAISSANCE; after all, the film is laid out as an intensely perceptive exploration of an area. In silent shots, Lurf offers a clip-like depiction of the Morris Reservoir near the Californian city of Azusa—a huge reservoir, which long served as a testing site for torpedoes , or rather, underwater warfare. RECONNAISSANCE targets details of the terrain in a seemingly motionless way, to unfold a subtle play with light and movement within this “framing.” First is a stone wall on which the incidence of light begins to oscillate almost imperceptibly. Then come parts of the dam, ramp-like concrete colossi, obstructed sections of road, underground shafts; and also medium shots of the surroundings—all sublimely alienated. One alienating effect is the partially abrupt, and partially barely perceptible change of light. The other, much more ghostly, is the sliding movement of individual areas of the landscape or the building. The background of a building thus begins to “wander,” the stone wall “framed” by the dam facility to escape from its frame. Reconnaissance, that is, shedding light on the obscure-monstrous facility, thus always also attempts to include its opposite—as though the independent existence of this functional military building cannot be simply abandoned or exorcised. Or, simply, it can be photographed only at the price of granting the bizarre building fragments their own dynamics, emanating from themselves: which gives the act of reconnaissance a highly remarkable visual-dialectical twist.

(Christian Höller)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt


Johann Lurf has spent several months documenting Morris Reservoir near Asuza, California, which functioned for decades as a military torpedo testing site and water source. Torpedos were fired into the water at different angles, using a movable ramp structure. Now that the site has been decommissioned, all that remains are infrastructural oddities. Lurf´s intention has been to produce a video study of the site´s immediate context and its place in the larger conversation of L.A. civil engineering. Several different shots of the dam and its surrounding topography play in sequence, each having a precise focus and a subtle movement, mimicking visual perception.

(Anthony Carfello, MAK Center for Arts and Architecture LA)


In his first film produced outside of his native Austria, Johann Lurf uses static shots to document a closed Californian Army base that once served as a military testing range. The uneasy silence of the footage taken using a long-distance lens and the distance maintained in to the compounds filmed highly augment the impression of latent secrets.

(New Horizons International Film Festival, July 2013)

Orig. Title
RECONNAISSANCE
Year
2012
Countries
Austria, USA
Duration
5 min
Director
Johann Lurf
Category
Avantgarde/Arts
Orig. Language
no dialogue
Downloads
RECONNAISSANCE (Image)
RECONNAISSANCE (Image)
RECONNAISSANCE (Image)
Credits
Director
Johann Lurf
Concept & Realization
Johann Lurf
Cinematography
Johann Lurf
Editing
Johann Lurf
Production
Johann Lurf
Supported by
Innovative Film Austria
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:1,78
Sound Format
silent
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
colour
DCP 2k 3D (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:1,78
Sound Format
silent
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
colour
Festivals (Selection)
2012
Toronto - Int. Film Festival / Wavlenghts
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
Mar del Plata - Int. Film Festival
2013
Vila do Conde - Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens
Rotterdam - Int. Filmfestival
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des Österreichischen Films
Hong Kong - Int. Film Festival
Ann Arbor - Film Festival
Bradford - International Film Festival
Nashville Film Festival
Windsor - Media City
Hamburg - Int. Kurzfilm-Festival & No Budget
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts
Wroclaw - New Horizons Festival
Melbourne - Int. Film Festival
Milano International Film Festival
Zagreb - 25fps Film & Video Festival
Rotterdam Architecture Film Festival
München - UnderDox, Festival für Dokument und Experiment
Uppsala - Int. Short Film Festival
Jihlava Documentary Film Festival
Denver - Int. Film Festival
Kassel - Dokumentarfilm- & Videofest
Lima - Peru Int. Short Film Festival
2014
Paris - Rencontres International Paris/Berlin/Madrid