The Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival takes place every year in the town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Alchemy have teamed up with the Glasgow Film Festival to present a selection of short films from the experimental Belgian filmmaker Anouk De Clercq. The screening comes under the name Dark Light and the filmmaker is present this evening to take part in a Q and A after the screening and explain why the term is perfect to describe her work.
The first short film that we see this evening is It (2017). The film begins with a blank screen and the sound of a forest, with birdsong and a light breeze blowing through the trees. There is no voice over, but text appears on the screen as we stare into the darkness. Eventually the black screen fades away and we find ourselves in the forest where we see intricate light particles hanging in the air. It is a striking image that creates an otherworldly illusion in a familiar setting.
Thing (2013) underlines the themes of light and dark. Again we begin with a black screen, but the silence is broken with a voice over – “At the beginning there was nothing’. We again view light particles, but this time the elements come together to display an urban setting. We view buildings and architecture all presented as tiny particles of pure white light. Here the artist uses architectural design techniques to present an eerie and ethereal setting. Landscape is again the focus for the third film, Oops Wrong Planet (2009). On this occasion we view a grainy black and white image of sand dunes. Drone-like music underlines the otherworldly nature of the visuals, as the viewer is drawn into a strange and beguiling panorama. For the final film we return to an urban landscape. Building (2003) uses white shapes to present the study of a building. Different areas of a concert hall are revealed through white geometric shapes that appear like inverted shadows projected on the screen. It is a mesmerising technique that keeps the viewer enthralled in the images.
After the screening Anouk De Clercq is in conversation with Alchemy Festival Director Michael Pattison where the topic of light and dark is explored. The artist states that – “The idea of a dark space where light come out of a projection booth to create a new space is my main interest”. De Clercq uses darkness as a blank canvas to create interesting and fascinating worlds – “As soon as you switch to black you are somewhere else.” The use of dark and light makes the films of Anouk De Clercq standout and the four films presented this evening highlight the work of an artist with interesting ideas on cinema and colour.