When I speak of a place, it has disappeared. When I speak of time, it already is no more. (Jean Baudrillard)
But at any rate, nothing just vanishes; of everything that disappears there remain traces. Yes, we may thus suppose that everything that disappears continues to lead a clandestine existence. (Jean Baudrillard)
When I first visited the “Nordwald” nature park in the Austrian “Waldviertel” many years ago, I was immediately captured by its magical atmosphere. It is a peculiar place, far away from everything, incredibly beautiful, powerful and eerie. While holidaying there, I had many dreams, strange and intense. Most of them I couldn’t recall, but what remained were vivid images and a very particular state of mind, which together became the basis of MEMORY.
I began to study the local legends and the macabre stories about the swamp in this forest. The notion of the swamp being a world in between, a gateway leading to the other side, matched the visions and feelings this landscape had triggered in me. As I allowed my imagination to wander, more images and allegories emerged which began to automatically form a story: A film story which I didn’t want to subject to any coventional narrative structure.
During my University Course in Philosophy I extensively studied Baudrillard’s theoretical concept and I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between reality and image, the real and the virtual. Gradually, without me wishing it, a thought experiment began: I linked the relation between the real and the metaphysical, on one side, to the relation between the real and the virtual, on the other. Then my thoughts went further: Couldn’t these two unreal worlds, which I imagined being nonetheless existing worlds, simply be two sides or two gates of the same space? This is how the idea of creating a scenario using video surveillance as a story tool, was born: That live transmission of this video recording, forms the central framework for the film. It was a logical and necessary progression then, that the video surveillance should take place in the living quarters of the four finalists who are competing in a short film competition, to win funding to finance their first feature film. In turn, they have become the ‘actors’ in the live TV broadcast of the competition.
The four candidates shoot their short films with different cameras, which offered an opportunity to ask the question regarding reproduction of reality, on the level of reproduction itself.
All these considerations seem very complex and theoretical. However, the film is designed to offer the audience a language of sensual insight, and enable them to engage in topics which they hesitate to touch upon in the real space: shadow and darkness.
For this reason, MEMORY also uses metaphors from the field of human sexuality. Darkness is sensual. We approach things that are hidden in the dark only by touching, tasting and listening. Love and sexuality are aspects in human life that can be profoundly felt, but are difficult to explain. They are driving forces which we sometimes can’t control, but which evoke the shadows inside us. Our own shadow is a much bigger danger than the shadows of the night. Our shadow can change who we are. And interestingly, the loss of our identity seems much more threatening than the loss of our existence.
On the other hand: To gaze into the abyss is not necessarily negative. Of course, what can not be controlled, is dangerous. But when you look into the night, you can also turn your eyes to the sky.
MEMORY also illuminates the historical relationship between, nakedness and sexuality as it exists in religious traditions. If we look at the symbolic function of Mary, mother of Jesus, we recognize commonalities with pagan deities, in particular the three-formed goddess, Hecate. And interestingly, it is Hecate who can unlock the gates between realms, the gate to the otherworld. She is described as being maternal, dark, powerful und intuitive. Instead of Mary’s virginity, in Hecate we observe a profound female sexuality with very strong connotations. Sexuality seems to be a vehicle to enter the space behind the world of appearances.