5433 individual photographic images plunge the eye into a state of delirious overload. Cones, like those in a stalactite cave, are drawn into a dynamic maelstrom by a storm of light changes and camera movement. The result is a sculptural spatial effect that is neither abstract nor concrete. The irritating thing is that, although the film was created using classic animation techniques, the production process is not revealed. In terms of form, the viewer is left with nothing to cling to. This in turn opens a view to the purely abstract and the lyrical rhythm of the images.
On the one hand, Mirjam Baker’s work is in the tradition of the “flicker” film. But unlike Tony Conrad’s classic The Flicker from 1965, her film does not refer to the technical apparatus of cinema with its 24 moments of night per second.
As for the pioneers of abstract film 100 years ago, who were also painters, Baker’s cinema begins where the fine arts come up against their limits. Just as her previous film, Staub (Dust), opened up imaginary spaces through animated color field painting, the boundaries between pictorial and imaginary space once again blur. Höhlenlicht (Cavelight) is a paradox: just as we see the cave only when we bring light into it, our eyes surrender to the excess of the imagery; where seeing ends, imagination begins.
As it happens, built sculptural objects were the prerequisite for the creation of this film. Single frames were made of hundreds of cones made of tissue paper mesh; four different movement sequences were cut into one another. As in minimal music, analytically formed structures thus find sensual expression. This musicality of images allows us not to feel the absence of an audio track. And there is something else that connects this masterpiece of structural film with the pioneers of the avant-garde: ever since Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí sliced an eye in Un Chien Andalou, there has existed a painful longing to look behind the visible, as it were. (Daniel Kothenschulte)
Translation: John Wojtowicz
9 min 35 sec