The Presence of Sebastian Wesman
By Tropic Sprocket critic Ian Brockway
Experimental film has a long history going back to the birth of film
itself from the fanciful sets of Georges Melies, the surrealism of Man
Ray, or the poetry of Maya Deren. Without the spark of experimentation
and independent film, our screens and our eyes would be anemic. With
this awareness, I am happy to report that several poetic haiku by the
filmmaker and composer Sebastian Wesman are being shown around Europe,
Asia, and South America. These seven films are haunting and mystical
meditations on the globe, and the human footprint, be it left in
celebration, ambivalence or neutral occupation.
Wesman, born in Argentina, has an indigenous feel for his subjects of
earth, sky, flesh and metal. His lyrical compositions that accompany
each piece are fluttery and winged in their own orbit. Taken together,
the scores compose a sonic gestalt that create a language of birds.
In "My Friend", Wesman's tribute to Tarkovsky, we are in the woods. A
single tree is in closeup with all the textured detail of a Käthe
Kollwitz woodcut. Then we watch as it impressionistically fades into
rain, becoming a terrestrial abstract mist as if imagined by the painter
Chuck Close. We see each drop of rain on a cellular level, transformed
and digitized by an extraterrestrial computer. Set this with the
transfixing voice of the Estonian poet Ellom, (along with the
Pre-Raphaelite form of Executive Producer Anneli Kõressaar) and what
arises seemingly out of the air, is an organic tribute to a cinematic
Next, "All the Winds" might quote Denmark to some, but Wesman's violin
makes this piece a universal rhythm on the power of nature. In dark
Expressionist streaks, Wesman's winds cycle with an almost Luciferic
choas, sweeping and swirling within a mad Walpurgis Nacht. The images
are fork-tailed and manic. There is fury in Fūjin here ( the Japanese
god of the wind) as all elements mix with a wild and numinous motion.
In "The Invisibles" we are put in a white industrial corridor (which
could be a mall or a subway) with an anonymous man. No one acknowledges
the man who shuffles and drifts as several people pass him without a
glance. As the man is surrounded and almost swallowed up by his
claustrophobic space of silence and seconds, this selection recalls the
nihilism of Samuel Beckett and the art of George Tooker.
"The Day After" suggests a melted and pressurized landscape where
bulldozers and earth movers might spin out of order and attack random
bystanders while others hurry to work with a neutral deliberateness. The
train and shops struggle to carry on as usual but the sky wilts
overhead while people mill about like pigeons with shell shock.
No matter what the cause, life grinds forth.
The last three films employ a sparse and minimal iconography which build
to a transcendent score on the movement of nature and the static
satellite of pop culture. In "The Red Bridge" we move along the red
planks only to dissolve in a field of brilliant flowers ala Warhol. "The
Electric Garden of Marilyn" brings us into the environment of a
carnival. A neon Ferris wheel is saturated with a fresco of Marilyn
Monroe. The portrait is either a Buddhist Mandala or a Tex-Mex shrine
from The Day of the Dead, depending on your point of view. The blinding
lights make the famous face indistinguishable, melting it into formless
runs of color.
The remaining "Elemental" describes a wind turbine as a possible
metallic savior. With great arcing blades, the turbines are avian and
majestic. Are the machines our last hope or are they signs of a higher
intelligence driven by winds of indifference?
Whatever the case, a Taoist vibration spins within as it is does with
every piece in this selection, turning upon the eye with an Orientalist
delicacy and potent design.
(c) 2013 Ian Brockway
Write Ian at email@example.com