by GREGG BIERMANN (2014)
US, 5min 37sec, Digital Video, Color, Sound.
On numerous occasions audio-visual artists have appropriated material from Alfred Hitchcock’s films to reassess critically the filmic discoveries of the master of suspense. Picking up scenes from his masterpieces, and developing them under diverse aesthetic and analytical parameters, has become a common strategy in the field of video-creation. Gregg Biermann is one of the filmmakers who has focused in great depth on the cinematographic constructions of the keenest supporter of the iron script. So far, he has created four recycled artworks based on some of the British director´s canonical movies.
Spherical Coordinates (2005) brings up an unusual formal resolution, when the scene of Janet Leigh’s car escape—taken from the beginning of Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)—is animated inside a three-dimensional sphere which is constantly spinning around. By perpetually displacing the images an extremely convex appearance, and distorting the sound frequencies of the original film, Biermann intensifies the protagonist’s anxiety which is reflected in her fearful glance caught in the rear mirror. Labyrinthine (2010) reconstructs scenes from Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) by means of systematic repetitions of reduced frames that emerge from the centre of the screen, expanding progressively until they occupy the whole screen. The constant flow of multiple scenes, arranged under a precise temporal structure, highlights not only the rectangular nature of the images, but also their depth. In this way, he evokes the vertigo and suffering of the character, intensifying the feeling of unease. Crop Duster Octet (2011) analyzes the classic scene from North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) in which a disconcerted Cary Grant is hounded by a light airplane. Dividing the scene into eight horizontal strips—edited in succession with a slight temporal mismatch—the filmmaker increases the anxiety of the threatened character, with whom the viewer inevitably identifies. The viewer tries to find, without luck, the inner logic that articulates the new, and distinctly confusing editing process.
Iterations is the last artwork of the series. The piece begins with one of the most emblematic scenes from Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954), in which James Stewart contemplates the courtyard of his building, watching his neighbours’ movements, leading him to suspect one of them. The original editing of the shots/reverse shots—the main character in an expressive foreground and subjective scenes of what goes on in front of him—gets distorted by a rigorous disposition which divides the image into nineteen columns. By discomposing reiteratively the verticality of the framing, the author transforms the new composition into a puzzle that shows the action with variations in time, velocity and orientation. In the words of the artist himself, the approach “interacts with Hitchcock’s formal decisions, resulting in a complete artwork.” If the lateral pans are disconcerting, the static images are an accurate reconstruction which produces hilarious moments—for example when the convalescent photographer L.B. Jeff Jefferies is about to fall asleep in some kind of domino effect. In the soundtrack, the acoustic intervals are juxtaposed, forming a polyphony of regular increases, and therefore present diverse fragmented incidents in unison. Iterations reveals itself as a subtle meta-filmic project where the multiple game of glances accumulates sequential representations that oversize everything we perceive.