As celluloid threatens to disappear altogether, Wavelengths launches with a celebratory and elegiac programme comprised of doomed desire, vanishing worlds and a love of analogue.
Wavelengths launches with a rare screening of Tacita Dean’s Edwin Parker(USA/United Kingdom – courtesy of the Marion Goodman Gallery), an intimate portrait of Cy Twombly, one of the great artistic geniuses of the past century. The film’s inclusion in the Festival has been exclusively made possible in honour of Twombly, who died on July 5. Dean is a vociferous defender of the threatened medium of 16mm. Her latest subject was a notoriously private titan whose work of deep emotional beauty, doomed desire and Arcadian abstraction remained impervious to shifting tastes. Edwin Parker (Twombly’s birth name) builds textures from the man himself and his crammed storefront studio in Lexington, Virginia.
As a prelude, we offer Nick Collins’ Loutra/Baths(United Kingdom), a painterly study of an ancient Roman bath surrounded by a lush olive grove in Loutra, Arcadia.
Emptiness is wistfully transformed in Sophie Michael’s 99 Clerkenwell Road(United Kingdom) as the remnants of an empty shop provide the makings of an abstract light film-cum-toy solar system.
Similarly beguiling is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Empire(Thailand/Austria), whose bobbing underwater creature leads us down a tawny, mysterious path.
Sack Barrow(United Kingdom), the latest sulphurous short by Ben Rivers and winner of the prestigious Baloise Art Prize, is a portrait of a London suburb plating factory established in 1931 for limbless and disabled war veterans. Documenting a vanished world, the film’s decelerated rhythm and focus on surface – from chemical aggregate to nostalgia-era pin-up girls – lends a portentous feel.
A conquistador counts his blessings in Raya Martin’s Ars Colonia(The Philippines/The Netherlands), a hand-coloured effigy shot on hi-8 analogue video, transferred to 35mm.
Lastly, Joshua Bonnetta’s American Colour(USA/ Canada), was shot on old rolls of 16mm Kodachrome during a pilgrimage from the stock’s birthplace in upstate New York to Houston, where its final rolls were processed earlier this year. Like a postscript to Dean’s Kodak, American Colour explores Kodachrome’s historic use and singular hues, doing so with digital means in the wake of its obsolescence.