As part of Glasgow Short Film Festival 2018
Transit Arts are a Glasgow-based organisation which exhibit artists’ moving-image works and also publish an assortment of experimental writing. Recently they have been curating a series of screenings that investigate urban spaces within the context of the Gothic. This evening, Transit Arts have teamed up with the Glasgow Short Film Festival to present six short films at the Festival Hub in Civic House, with a programme entitled Soft Cells.
The opening film of the screening takes a step away from urban architecture and looks at the body. Kobold’s Gesänge (Goblin’s Chants) from German video artist Klaus Vom Bruch focuses on the human torso, whilst the representation of a communication satellite is superimposed onto the moving imagery. Here we see the marriage and also the dissonance of a constructed object in relation to the natural body. The effect is beguiling and captivating and a great introduction to the programme.
The theme of the body is carried through to the next short – The Watchmen, directed by Fen Silva. Here we are presented with the image of a naked man in a field. The ten-minute short progresses to depict images of urban landscapes through found footage and short segments taken from Hollywood cinema. The footage is edited together to present a natural flow and takes the viewer on a visual journey from the physical body, which carries through to a presentation of urban architecture.
Manual is a short from 2001 directed by Matthias Müller and Cristoph Girardet. Here we see footage of a variety of science-fiction communication and recording devices. As with The Watchmen, the sequences are edited to weave together a loose narrative and to present suggestive and redolent images. We return to the work of Fern Silva with Scales in the Spectrum of Space. This is very much a companion piece to the previous work, with a greater emphasis on urban landscapes and architecture. The imagery may not be as evocative as in The Watchmen, but the style and imagination of the director shines through with every frame.
The Wave Machine and the Flâneuse by Tessa Lynch is probably the most distinctive and abstract short in the selection. The viewer witnesses scrolling text that presents a personal conversation between two women. The voices discuss walking through the city as women and the style and approach of the movie draws the viewer into the conversation, where the dialogue holds additional significance and importance due to the fact that we are experiencing it as text.
The final film in the programme is The Sleepers by Amy Siegel. This is also the longest film in the selection, at 45 minutes in length. The Sleepers is presented on 16mm and is a voyeuristic movie which has its focus on a block of flats. We peer into the windows of the inhabitants and observe them make phone calls, watch television and carry out mundane everyday tasks. Here we take a peek into the private life of others and it is a gripping and intense experience.