The astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission, who in 1968 first observed the Earth from space, described their experience as something that fundamentally marked their lives and forever changed their view of the world. The scene of the blue planet floating in the black empty space is said to be extremely moving because the remoteness gives us particularly clear insight into the bigger picture of things and into how very wholesome and mostly fragile everything down there is. However, it is precisely this remote perspective or the so-called “effect of insight” that suddenly exposes all the unfathomable extent of absurdity and the horrible banality of our everyday geopolitical reality.
This bigger picture of things, the view from afar, is brought to us by the experimental film A Year Along the Geostationary Orbit, which gives the audience a year-long time-lapse view of Earth from the perspective of a geostationary satellite. The element of duration and the use of the fast-forward technique – although on scenes that are now quite ordinary – can move the audience to a special, almost meditative experience, so we immediately establish the bigger picture, the greater plan, which disperses as we glide through the programme. It dissolves by elements, perspectives, and plans, as by the use of cinematic techniques and motifs.
If the first films still convey wholeness and the remote clarity, these disappear as soon as we take a closer look. It seems as if the role of the four Classical elements was solely destruction. If it is not fires (California on Fire), then it is a global flood (The Day Before the End) or the wind in a post-apocalyptic world that light-heartedly plays with garbage, the only witness of the fallen civilisation (Plastic Bag), or the trees growing from the ground that disintegrate through sight and sound (Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis). The fact that the fifth element proves to be the most vulgar and destructive is no longer surprising (Wunderschein).
It is similarly not surprising that the experimental film with its lack of self-interest, its indirectness, and sometimes-witty irrationality offers the most insightful outbursts and most radical insights into reality. Six contemplative shorts, six sides of insight, and six contemporary experimental classics for a bigger picture and the end of the world.
Matevž Jerman, Jelena Radić