minute 63

A Peculiar Concoction

The Sun is setting on us. An otherwise perfectly calming view is made threatening by the hysterical noise we hear, like a safe situation subverted by a panic attack. The music attaches an element of urgency to the visual spectacle. We do not experience the pure image as a visual statement – the music forces us to enter the realm of abstractions and find explanations for the unusual combination of calm image and frantic sound that makes us tremble with confusion. In any other context, such combination would leave us indifferent; in Decasia, we feel its artistic force compelling us to think, to find new ways of connecting the dots. If you find the right abstractions, the scene makes you think of a Stanley Kubrick movie, in which the metaphors in your mind are more important than the images on the screen. The unusual degree of contrast, not just between the film and the music, but also between the horizon in which the sun is (still) lingering and the darkness that awaits it below, reminds me of the strange monoliths entering humanity's realm in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The montage is made all the more unsettling by the subsequent dissolution of the images of sunset into a peculiar concoction of visual decay that leaves us with nothing but randomly varying bubbles. The bubbles seem to be a toxic mud, suffocating any form of life, that we would presumably otherwise be seeing. The ever increasing flow of bubbles is like the eruption of a volcano that spews huge amounts of lava into the air. In this scene, the lava takes possession of the screen, it forces itself onto our eyes, and the music is still in the process of overwhelming us with urgency and negativity, as if it were telling us not to trust our brains but to trust our hearts instead; hearts filled with terror and not reason.

The flow of the concoction imposes itself on us. It makes us victims of the decay of the film. We would like to think that we control the film, that we control the medium. Instead, as the powerful images demonstrate, the medium unleashes its poison onto us. It does not have to care about the implications, it leaves us stunned and forces us to contemplate the consequences.

As the flow of bubbles finally starts to recede, it reveals a scene of real humanity. A man feeds a woman with a substance unknown to us. We can only guess what effect the medicine might have from the context in which we see it being administered. We can discern a smile from the sea of bubbles and blisters that block our vision. What does this mean? Can there possibly be any positive action arising from this devastating scenery? No-one can be quite sure what the facial expression of the woman should tell us. The music keeps hammering at an unbending pace, the change on the woman's face notwithstanding.

A quick cut allows us to see the Greek dancer again. We have seen him a number of times throughout this journey which we call Decasia. Indeed, his circular movement reminds us of the repetitive nature of Decasia. What we see is nothing more than a repetition of the past, a reproduction of the past, a movement which is more fake then real. Dancing around the fact of the matter allows us to see life in a different light. Just as the dancer is rotating throughout the air that surrounds him, we observe the world of moving pictures rotate around us. In addition, the music reminds us of the urgency of the moment, its inevitability, yet also its perishability.

Before the scene switches back to the painter with his canvas, we are powerfully brought back to our own reality. Both the Greek dancer, as well as the painter with his canvas, remind us of the fragility of the film which we see unfold before our eyes. If we were to remove all the bubbles and blisters from our vision, we would still be left with the riddle of life that ever rotates before our eyes like the Greek dancer. We seek direction, yet we deny intervention. In this sense, we have abandoned God, hoping his sound intentions will get through to us without engaging us in the kind of conversation that reveals our weakness and mortality. And in the meantime, we grasp for more images, for new images, for images that no-one has yet seen. And when the spectacle is over, we descend to reality like Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who, after his return from space, is said to have proclaimed: “The earth was blue but there was no God.”

Moritz Mücke