Ben Rivers’ four-part film, Slow Action, is a heady mix of lingering, mysterious beauty and charmingly offbeat humour, transforming four real locales into wholly imagined futuristic communities.
Referencing classic-documentary and ’50s-era ethnographic cinema, Rivers mischievously plays with the disarming and ironic porosity of science fiction. Taking inspiration from such utopian literary classics as Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, Slow Action uses a commissioned text by writer Mark von Schlegell, read by an omniscient female and male voice (the former a nod to Werner Herzog’s Fata Morgana). As they negotiate the utopian terrain of these post-flood parallel worlds, the searing 16mm anamorphic images testify to Rivers’ visionary flair and eye for the breathtaking.
Though reminiscent of such august precedents as Chris Marker’s La Jetée and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Slow Action is, indelibly, a creation of its maker, whose ongoing study of hybrids and hermits belongs in a category all its own.
Presented in collaboration with Gallery TPW, 56 Ossington Avenue. September 8 to October 1.