Vortex, 2015 - 2017

Digital Video, 3:2, Colour, Stereo Sound, 9'05''

A corridor of an apartment is transformed into a claustrophobic and vertiginous vortex that swallows and imprisons you in the infinite fall through the mise en abyme: it’s a pure enclosure inside the image world, it’s the Descent into the Maelstrom.

about the film
The project started from a continuous interest and research on the experimental cinema tradition of Takashi Ito (Spacy), Michael Snow (WavelengthBack and ForthLa Région Centrale), Toshio Matsumoto (AtmanShift), Ernie Gehr (Side Walk ShuttleSerene Velocity), Martin Arnold (Pièce Touchée), Standish Lawder (Corridor).

The first premise of the work focuses on the Structural Film, as it is defined and discussed by P. Adams Sitney (1974), taking as its objects of analysis three films by Michael Snow: Wavelength; Back and Forth; La Région Centrale. From this theme, Vortex tries to explore the idea of film as film, a notion that focuses on the film as a powerful medium within itself. As such, our film proposes to expose and invest on the structural, formal and material processes and elements of the audiovisual organism — on its qualities of light and colour, on the durability and rythm of the moving image, on the mechanical character of the film camera, on the visibility of the montage as a mean of spacial and temporal (de)construction. Such characteristics, usualy eliminated or hidden by mainstream cinema, oppose to, as well as reject, the illusory methods of the traditionally narrative based audiovisual production, which resorts exclusively to modes of continuity and invisibility of the montage as a mere instrument of representation of a given reality, and whose main priority is the dependency on the human presence, (inter)action and/or performance (story and characters):

Structural/Materialist film attempts to be non-illusionist. The process of the film's making deals with devices that result in demystification or attempted demystification of the film process. But by 'deals with' I do not mean 'represents'. In other words, such films do not document various film procedures, which would place them in the same category as films which transparently document a narrative, a set of actions, etc. (...)
The dialectic of the film is established in that space of tension between materialist flatness, grain, light, movement, and the supposed reality that is represented. Consequently a continual attempt to destroy the illusion is necessary. In Structural/Materialist film, the in/film (not in/frame) and film/viewer material relations, and the relations of the film's structure, are primary to any representational content. The structuring aspects and the attempt to decipher the structure and anticipate/recorrect it, to clarify and analyse the production-process of the specific image at any specific moment. are the root concern of Structural/Materialist film.
(GIDAL, 1978, p. 1)

The second main premise deals with the concept of mise en abyme, as it is analysed by Lucien Dallenbach (1991), considering its origin in the writings of André Gide (1970). Thereby, we define that the function of the concept is to present the circumstances sine qua non to a certain work of art by unveiling and emphasizing the condition of the elements inherent to its process of production/construction, almost like reflecing the work of art upon itself, therefore taking the act (process) of creation as the own motif (subject) of the creation. Consequently, the mise en abyme inevitably captures us in a sort of trap triggered by the reciprocal confrontation between the oeuvre and the means which compose it as such — being that each of the latter are, simultaneously, its specular image: hence the fall into the abyss*. For this purpose, our film tries to capture and imprison its viewers in Alice’s universe by creating a claustrophobic and repetitive space that closes (or opens) itself in an infernal, agonizing and vertiginous vortex of screens inside of screens, mirrors inside of mirrors, frames inside of frames — and therefore film inside of film: it’s a pure enclosure inside the Image World; it’s the Descent into the Maelstrom.

«(...) gritou: Moeskoe-ström!
«Ninguém saberá nunca o que eu senti nesse momento. Tremi dos pés à cabeça como se tivesse o mais violento dos ataques de febre. Bem sabia eu o que êle queria dizer com aquela palavra, bem sabia eu que êle queria que eu percebesse. Com o vento que tínhamos agora sôbre nós, íamos ter ao turbilhão do Ström e nada nos poderia salvar!
«Bem vê o senhor: ao passarmos o canal do Ström, íamos sempre muito mais acima do redemoínho, mesmo com o tempo mais seguro e depois tínhamos que esperar com todo o cuidado pela calma; mas agora íamos mesmo sôbre o redemoínho e com um furacão daquela ordem! (...)
«Estávamos agora na faixa de ressaca que existe sempre à volta do turbilhão; e claro está que pensei no momento seguinte mergulharíamos no abismo, cujo fundo mal podíamos ver por causa da extraordinária velocidade com que eramos transportados. (...)
«Ao sentir a volta vertiginosa da descida, instintivamente me prendi com mais fôrça ao barril e cerrei os olhos. Durante alguns segundos não ousei abri-los, porque esperava uma destruição imediata e admirava-me de já não estar na água, no estertor da agonia. (...)
(POE, no date, p. 17, 19, 21)

* There are various examples of works of art that operate in a mise en abyme, a lot of them mentioned by Gide himself, in his diaries, from heraldry to painting to writing. Following his interests, and our own studies on the concept, we could consider as main examples works such as Las Meninas by Velázquez, L’Illusion Comique by Corneille, Hamlet by Shakespeare (the mousetrap), Spacy by Takashi Ito. Gide’s own novels, like Les Faux Monnayeurs, are also cases where this structure in abyss manifests, taking the process of writing as the actual subject of writing (not only novel inside of novel, but also novel of the novel, novel about the novel). In short, we consider that when a work of art is in mise en abyme, its main theme (what it is actually about) is the exact process of its production as a work of art, with all the means/elements implied in it.

main references:
DALLENBACH, Lucien (1991) El Relato Especular. Madrid: Visor. Translated by Ramón Buenaventura. ISBN: 84-7774-708-3
GIDAL, Peter (1978) Structural Film Anthology. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 0-85170-0535.
GIDE, André (1970) Journal. Volume 1: 1889-1939. Paris: Gallimard. Collection Bibliotèque de la Pléiade.
POE, Edgar Allan (no date) A Descida ao Maelstrom. Lisbon: Agostinho da Silva.
SITNEY, P. Adams (1974) Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde. New York: Oxford University Press.
SNOW, Michael () The Collected Writings of Michael Snow

posters and DVD case

festivals & exhibitions
2020, ADAF: Athens Digital Arts Festival, Athens & Online Event
2020, Art Madrid '20, Madrid, Spain

2019, Fear, Athens School of Fine Arts, Greece
2019, Fulgente, Desterro, Lisbon, Portugal
2019, Cairo Video Fest, Cairo, Egypt
2019, A Descida ao Maelstrom, Cossoul, Lisbon, Portugal
2019, SOMA, Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon, Portugal
2019, Ibrida Festival, Fabbrica delle Candele, Italy
2019, Videolands, MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts, Thessaloniki, Greece
2019, Mostra Nacional de Jovens Criadores, Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisbon, Portugal

2018, InShadow: Lisbon Screendance Festival, Lisbon, Portugal
2018, North Bellarine Film Festival, Potato Shed, Drysdale, Victoria, Australia
2018, Counterpath: The Unseen Festival, Denver, Colorado, United States of America
2018, Pugnant Film Series: Fuck the Narration, Chimeres Space, Athens, Greece
2018, MOITAMOSTRA18: V@curral, Viseu, Portugal
2018, Festival Ecrã, Cinemateca do MAM, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
2018, Festival Video Art Miden: From Zero to Infinity, Historic Center of Kalamata, Greece
2018, Festival Images Contre Nature 18, Videodrome 2, Marseille, France
2018, Now&After International Video Art Festival, ARTPLAY Design Center, Moscow, Russia

2017, Festival Video Babel, Centro Cultural USIL Cusco, Peru
2017, Expanding Film, Pica Studios. York, England
2017, Richterfest 2017, Science and Art space. Moscow, Russia
2017, Germinal Experimental, Lisbon, Portugal
2017, IVAHM: International Video Art House Madrid, Museum La Neomudéjar, Madrid, Spain
2017, GAB-A 11th Edition, Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, Portugal
2017, Filmideo, Index Art Center, New Jersey, USA
2017, Proceso de Error, Casa Plan. Valparaíso, Chile
2017, Um Mês Português, Lisbon, Portugal

Vortex at A Descida ao Maelstrom, an Individual Exhibition at Cossoul
in Lisbon, Portugal
from 20.07.2019 to 31.07.2019

Vortex at the Videolands Group Exhibition,
at MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts, Thessaloniki, Greece
from 05.04.2019 to 25.04.2019

Vortex as part of Mostra Jovens Criadores,
at the Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisbon, Portugal
from 21.02.2019 to 23.02.2019

Vortex as part of Mostra Jovens Criadores,
at the Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisbon, Portugal
from 21.02.2019 to 23.02.2019

Vortex as part of the Festival Video Art Miden: From Zero to Infinity
at the Historic Center of Kalamata, Greece
from 05.07.2018 to 07.07.2018

Vortex at the Expanding Film screening
at Pica Studios, in York, Englad