[2015.01.20] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.
As you approach the recently constructed third floor space of The Tyneside Cinema (The Gallery) staff hand out 3D glasses and direct you to enter the room where Sebastian Buerkner’s movie-installation is showing. The film plays out on a large screen at the end of the black room. It is in constant rotation throughout the day (with a brief five minute interval after each run.)
The twenty-five minute first-person exploration (The Chimera of M.) is made up of separate scenes from the perspective of a character journeying home to visit two people from their past with which they have been intimately acquainted. Apparently this narrative was inspired by a passage in Buerkner’s own life. Each visitation is unwound through alternating scenes, and with each framed moment, the audience is challenged to imagine, both the rest of the scene, and what past may have informed the current situations and behaviours.
Buerkner’s use of 3D technology is much more provocative than its common application to enhance realistic imagery. Though the content of the scenes is routed in a world we would know, moving two-dimensional shapes and vibrant colours are layered in a three-dimensional space to give a more symbolic representation of artefacts. By presenting images which require closer inspection to understand and relate to, as an audience member you feel immersed in the perspective of the character and the intimacy of their interactions.
Though the piece is a celebration of how to engage an audience in 3D visuals in an unpatronising and sensual way, The Chimera of M. suffers for its supporting dialogue, which often lands half-way between naturalistic exchanges and pretension. With such imagination present in the visuals, to explore more suggestive speech elements (or vocal sounds) might have deepened the emotional connection with the audience. The other sonics enhancing the scenes (bubbles, clinking glasses etc.,) flesh the experience well.
Within a mostly ernest experience, the artist pokes occasional fun at the medium he has utilised: For example, an opening slide of an opticians eye-test chart draws attention to the limitation of our focus as viewers, and later, our character tries to thread a pen back into its lid, which the visited person is holding. Here, our hand holding the pen is shown missing the hole of the lid because, as the visited character explains, we have one eye shut. This scene acknowledges how simple relationships become problematic when the third dimension is missing.
With works like Buerkner’s The Chimera of M., The Gallery is already proving itself a worthy compliment to the other spaces within this wonderful cinema, offering visitors the chance to explore other visual art forms relevant to cinema and film. The place where you have previously enjoyed a more traditional movie outing now offers a space to experience more experimental constructions. Once more, the Tyneside Cinema’s curators continue to inspire.