Surface Séance

Surface Séance puts perception to the test courtesy of the inertia of the eye, aka persistence of vision. Split seconds of the outside world occasionally pierce the darkness, glimpses of the night seen through subway windows and tram doors flash onto neon-lit zones, everyday signage, logos and public transport pictograms. Public space splinters into colorful fragments. Blink and you'll miss it.

A trip on Vienna's public transport system provides the framework for a special exploratory expedition by virtue of the conceptual delight with which Michael Heindl approaches everyday trivialities. His protagonist is an amorphous creature who takes center screen: Its dirty white form emerges from the brittle darkness, gradually pushing itself to the front. Reminiscent of an embryo and ceaselessly changing, it pulsates like a single-cell organism under the microscope, growing into a grey madcap: These are traces of bodies, smudges found on panes of glass and other surfaces, they appear roughly smeared or delicately dotted, ranging from amorphous streaks to fingerprints and handprints, kissing lips, smiley faces, numbers, letters and symbols. The synthetic starry night of dust particles surrounding the images endows them with a vaguely cosmic (and comic) quality. 

Flora Rajakowitsch's sound design emphasizes the lighthearted aspects of this borderline abstract undertaking. It plays with the sounds of fingers squeaking across windows and screens, it alienates and awakens the dirty schemata of the stimulating montage sequences to cartoonish life. In the end Heindl brings his gray, single-frame painting to full bloom - and realizes the possibility of a loop ­– an endless loop: The 360-degree pan of an empty subway interior becomes the echo of a story about sweat, water and fat, concluding with the prospect of a new start. (Stefan Grissemann

Translation: Eve Heller

Production Note:
No matter in which environment we humans appear, we leave traces there. Whether we want it or not, our presence inevitably inscribes itself in the spaces we enter. For the work Surface Séance, I made traces of human bodies on various surfaces the subject of an animated film. This film technique makes it possible to create the illusion that the individual smudges, caused by countless different people, grow together to form a single body. (Michael Heindl)

Orig. Title
Surface Séance
4 min 45 sec
Michael Heindl
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Michael Heindl
Concept & Realization
Michael Heindl
Sound Design
Flora Rajakowitsch
Supported by
Wien Kultur MA 7, Bildrecht
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Oberhausen - Int. Kurzfilmtage