On Screen // Waterscope at Mindpirates

“On Screen” is Berlin Art Link’s newest blog series that explores and discovers contemporary film, video art, and installations. Every week we will offer impressions from the latest selection of screenings in Berlin.

Berlin Art Link Discover, trailer still from "Waterscope" from director Carsten AschmannCarsten Aschmann – “Waterscope” (2012) trailer still, video; courtesy of Hula Offline Productions

In 2012, director Carsten Aschmann said, rather humbly, about his film Waterscope, that “There are a lot of films about water. Now here is one more.” But the experimental film paired with the unusual, industrial sounds from Dieter Moebius draws few comparisons. The film premiered in Berlin on Saturday, March 22nd with a DJ set by Moebius at Mindpirates Auditorium.

Aschmann was correct in that the main motif is quite obvious. But instead of being a scientific or nature film with shots only of glaciers, oceans, or rivers, most of the scenes focus on the mechanical contraptions that need water to operate. They aren’t explained, but flash before us on the screen one after another, dramatically underscoring the stark difference between our machines and water, nature’s essence.

Though staring at water ripples can take its toll after awhile, Moebius’ music had a longer hold on the audience. At age 70, the experimental electronic musician and founder of bands Kluster (later changed to Cluster) and Harmonia, Moebius is truly one of the most important industrial and ambient musical artists living today. During a UK tour with Harmonia, Moebius previously performed at an Aquatic Center wherein speedo-ed listeners could hear the duo’s set both above and below water.

Aschmann said that the film developed from his filmed segments of beach-goers cooling off beneath showers. He said that the sequences resembled a sort of ritual. In Waterscope, close-up shots of water that ripples, thrashes, babbles, and surges become hypnotizing and mystical optical illusions. The electronic beats from Moebius also surge, more stormy and imposing with shots of machinery, more tinkling and ambient with the simple water shots. Together, both the filmmaker and musician’s abrasive yet composed glitches and splices present a sensory storm. At the end, a single child stands with the shower matting his hair down into his face. Closing a film that is devoid of human appearances and almost devoid of human voices, we are grounded again with a familiar and nostalgic image after the swirl of inspirations and associations that flooded our minds.

Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014.

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