minute 21

How our senses interfere with our feelings and vice versa

Optical illusions and visual tricks are well known elements of magic. They do fascinate us and we are attracted to them – we want to understand them, want to know where or what the loophole is.
Our eyes play an important role in our lives. We want to believe what we see and we see what we believe. We want to trust our eyes and we start to panic as soon as we cannot. We basically go mad, if we cannot see what is going on.
But our vision is not the only sense we have – hearing is another one. What we hear has a huge influence on our feelings, too. It does not even have to be a certain string of sounds (e.g. words, phrases, tones, melodies); our feelings are also influenced by noises. These noises can be loud or quiet. We must not even think about them, they still influence our feelings unconsciously.
On the other hand we can listen to the music consciously and let us been carried away by nice melodies, rhythms and lyrics. Conclusively, stating the obvious: Our senses influence our feelings and our feelings influence our senses, too. They do interfere.
In the 21st minute of Bill Morrison’s “Decasia” distorted, blurred, black and white pictures and heavy, orchestral music can be perceived. When I watched the 21st minute for the first time I had the feeling of everything turning; around and around. The music added to that by giving me the feeling of everything and everyone being in horror and panic and that it will never stop turning until it dies.
A couple of days later I was only able to recall the feeling of confusion, chaos and disorder. I could not even recall a single frame or picture of the movie. Then I watched it again and paused every now and then to have a closer look at the scenes. I noticed details I had not seen before and thought about what they might mean, what information they obtain.
I watched it again and I came to realize that I fell for several visual illusions. What I thought was turning, did probably not turn at all – or was it? The indistinct crowd of people in the third and last scene turned out to be separable into guests of a fair, workers at a flying swing and those who were riding the flying swing.

As soon as I saw all that more clearly, noticed more details, I was not afraid of it, of the film, of the task anymore. Then the point would have come to analyze the scenes, compare music and film, consider details and analyze the effects of the blurred and distorted film material. But I was too surprised that all those details where in there, and that the material was not that indefinable after all that I decided to focus on optical illusions and their effects on our perception and feelings.
If one does not have the chance to watch the scenes over and over again, one will not ever see it as clearly as I do now. One would be left with the feeling of distortion and chaos, fed by the awkward sounds of something like a train, blaring, before it crushes right into something and leading to misfortune. As long as you do not see clearly what is happening, as long as your eyes cannot hold on to an anchor, to a fixed point, you have the feeling of being powerless, helpless, defenseless, since you do not know what you have to be afraid of; if you have to be afraid after all. At this point my senses have influenced my feelings.
Now that we know the name of the film, “Decasia”, and that it is about decease, maybe decease of films, of memories, we assemble these feelings with that knowledge to a big picture. My personal big picture contains a lot of social critique. The fun, families have on fairs, being equal to social wealth, is endangered by a blaring train, being equal to a misfortune, if society does not preserve it. In this minute it seems that it is already too late, or even if it is not yet, I would not know what to do or how to react. I would be powerless – and that is exactly how I felt after I watched those scenes for the first time. I felt irritated and powerless. Ergo, my feelings have influenced my perception, my senses.
Altogether, this description is as blurred as the pictures; it is led by emotions, not based on facts. Nothing I would consider a proper analysis. Nevertheless, I think that this was the producer’s intention; to create a certain feeling, not necessarily conveying the meaning of the scenes themselves. What contributes to this point of view is that after I decoded a couple of the frames, they made less sense than before. Having solved the visual tricks, the pictures are clear to me, I can call up on certain scenes and pictures – my senses are clear and so are my feelings. Everything is set straight; I am not irritated by this “minute” anymore.

Take a closer look at things you are afraid of, try to understand what it really is, eliminate illusions, analyze it and you have a good chance to actually overcome your fears.

Ann-Kristin Angermüller