Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film 2012

Colours

 
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Sunday, August 4, 8:00 pm, @ Durham Town Hall

Programmed by Nelson Henricks

Doupe
Barry Doupé, 2012

If you could make a world, what kind of world would you make? One could argue that all artists, novelists and filmmakers are invested in this question: the mimetic representation of the real. In Barry Doupé’s computer animations however, mimesis is rendered explicit. I cannot watch his work without being conscious that he has made everything I see on screen. In conventional cinema, one hires an actor, constructs a set, finds a location, and begins shooting. Doupé, on the other hand, has to build his actors. He builds the sets and the locations they inhabit. He builds the cities. He builds the skies. He builds the props they hold: their pencils, telephones, and martini glasses. Everything we see is issued from Barry’s hand and mind. Where Doupé’s films diverge from say, the latest Pixar movie, is that his work draws attention to its own constructedness. His animations resemble video games of 1990’s, thus lending them an anachronistic or approximate quality. The laws of physics can sometimes break down; someone’s arm or leg can pass through an apparently solid surface. Like children’s drawings, the characters at times seem primitive or grotesque. A person’s face can be chinless or concave, their features scrambled. Though one senses that Doupé delights in the crude and provisional quality of his creations, the impoverished aesthetics are also strategic. They act as a distancing device, doubling mimetic representation with disbelief, foregrounding the process of creation behind the work. Though the virtual worlds that Doupé constructs mimic our own, they operate according to a more expansive logic. One feels that literally anything can happen. It is this breadth of possibility that makes his work exhilarating and fascinating. Like many other artists working today, I would link Doupé’s practice with surrealism or magic realism. I am thinking here of a lineage that reaches from Kafka and Borges to Murakami, from the French Surrealists to David Lynch. At 119 minutes in duration The Colors That Combine to Make White Are Important (2012) is Doupé’s most ambitious and technically accomplished work. In Japanese with English subtitles, the story involves five main protagonists and takes place in a glass factory. Even if it weren’t a feature length computer animation in Japanese, its mind-bending narrative and astonishing visuals would be enough to distinguish it as a singular work of wonder. The piece begins as a straightforward office drama, but somewhere around the thirty-minute mark, unravels into a series of dream-like episodes that repeat, interweave and reconfigure in unexpected ways. The characters move through a variety of locations – a nightclub, an art gallery, and what seems to be a sound stage – and become entangled in a web of shifting power relations. As the video progresses the narrative is abandoned, leaving the protagonists free to utter epigrams on the nature of existence, happiness and color. Few experimental filmmakers are creating feature length work. I would argue that duration is a significant aspect of The Colors… especially in its relationship to catharsis. Meaning “purification” or “purgation”, catharsis as defined by Aristotle describes the ability of works of art to arouse emotions in us, while simultaneously cleansing us of the same. We experience catharsis as the pleasurable and often gratuitous sensation obtained when watching mainstream television and cinema: the victim has vengeance on powerful, the child is rescued, the hero vanquishes the villain, always in the nick of time and with a predictable happy end. In The Colors… catharsis arrives during a 37-minute sequence towards the end of the video. To describe it in detail would rob the work of much of its power. Suffice to say it is a sex scene in which a female character recites a series of jokes, Zen koans, philosophical truisms and tautologies. With its fragmented monologue and a lack of dramatic music to support it, the scene plays out in a remarkably subdued manner. What interests me is how the extreme duration of this sequence creates true catharsis. Throughout the 37 minutes I move through a variety of emotions – surprise and incredulity – which are gradually eclipsed by uncertainty, exasperation, and finally boredom. At a certain point however, I move beyond boredom into a space of surrender, amazement and transcendence. This is a catharsis hard-won, one that is not obtained through cheap emotional manipulation. Barry Doupé stands as one of the most daring and innovative practitioners producing feature length work in Canada today. The Colors That Combine to Make White Are Important is breathtaking in its originality and inventiveness, going places and doing things that conventional mainstream film has yet to imagine, let alone dare. Doupé’s work is a testament to the remarkable freedom of the imagination, our liberty to dream up worlds of our own.

--Nelson Henricks, Spring 2013

 

The Colors that Combine to Make White are Important
(Canada, 2012, 119 min.)
Barry Doupé
The Colors that Combine to Make White are Important explores the power structure within a failing Japanese glass factory. Two parallel storylines involving the investigation of a suspected employee and that of a stolen painting converge to reveal an exposition on gender and desire.

Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012
Barry Doupé
Barry Doupé, 2012