GUSTAV DEUTSCH - Film ist [1-12]
von Brian Marley in The Wire , feb. 2005
Since 1996 Gustav Deutsch has been poring through film archives, retrieving scraps of film, including damaged ends of reel, test shots and discarded editings, and adding them to an ongoing project entitled „Film ist“. These found clips, freed from their original context, are ripe for reinterpretation. What Deutsch finds interesting is how easily new meanings can be ascribed to them, how they lend themselves in montage to new governing narratives. The brief clips, often looped to make their tiny but definitive gesture cyclical, hence satisfyingly complete in themselves, cover a century of film. The material used derives from scientific films which were made for the purposes of documentation or instruction, as well as film which originated in, or is redolent of, the overlapping realms of fairground and variety theatre, for the purposes of entertainment.
Unsurprisingly, ‚Film ist’ is more versatile as an installation work than it is on DVD. It can be shown on multiscreens that surround the audience, and episodes from each of the chapter can be presented simultaneously.
Because the relationships between material in the episodes can then be experienced at a glance, it’s also a much more complex phenomenon, one placing less reliance on time and memory. There’s also a presentation by Deutsch, in which he discusses found film and his use of it. But the bulk of the DVD is taken up with ‚Film ist’ itself. Almost all of the found clips come without original sound, and musical collaborators including Dietmar Schipek, Werner Dafeldecker, Christian Fennesz, Martin Siewert and Burkhard Stangl contribute a soundtrack which adds character to the episodes without blunting their potential to be interpreted in many different ways. ‚Film ist’ does something that films rarely do – acknowledge the viewer’s creative engagement with the material.
Brian Marley
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