With her camera, Ariane Loze researches the coming to life of a story out of seemingly unrelated images. In her 7 short films she takes on all the parts: she is at the same time the actress, the camera woman and the director. Through the editing of the images she develops a relation between two (or more) characters and the architecture. The MÔWN project was shown during the Theaterfestival 2009 (Brussels), at which point you could also assist to the live shoot of the 8th film in the series in Bozar. Every day the film produced was added to the exhibition. The spectator was at the same time a co-actor, observer and active creator of the movie that was yet to come.
The short movie series of MÔWN was the result of a research period of the artist, investigating the boundaries of continuity and narrativity. How does the combination of images produce its own imaginary context? How can you build up a narrative out of seemingly unrelated images? In the MÔWN-series the narrative is not pre-formatted, but a result of the deliberate technical limitations, working with only one actrice, who at the same time functions as camera woman. In the movies, the body becomes its own double and, through the editing, starts up a dialogue with itself. More than a psychological deconstruction, MÔWN puts the spectator in the active role of creating his/her own story out of the basic principles of film editing: shot and counter-shot, the presumed continuity of movement, and the psychological suggestion of a narrative. The viewer gets invited into a game, of which he can construe the rules on the way. Out of only a few minimal elements (space, movement, character), he/she creates his/her own movie.
The bodies in MÔWN are bodies in space. Sometimes no more than indicators of the architecture that surrounds them. It is the camera that creates out of these fragments of corridors, walls and staircases a new, non-existent space, a virtual playground for the phantasmagoric appearances of the characters. A corridor in the west wing leads to a space in the north part. A door in the basement opens up to a room in the attic. The camera functions as a kind of rabbit hole, leading Alice through her different transformations, creating a virtual dreamworld in which almost anything could happen: a cut-off ear on the dinner table, a girl appearing out of a closet, a body falling down and down again, only to be resurrected in the next frame. This virtual space appears out of the dreamlike logic of the narrative as it unfolds itself through the mirror images of the character, in its endless encounters, walking towards itself/themselves, bending the limits of space, transforming a straight corridor into a corner, or an simple rectangular room into a labyrinth of perspectives.
The girl and the machine
While the short films can stand by themselves, every one of them is the result of a performative shoot, in which the girl/actress/director enters into an in-depth negotiation with the camera. What we see at first, is a seemingly non-sensical dialogue developing, in which the camera is pushed around, re-adjusted, functioning at the same time as a sounding board and a coat rack for the enigmatic scenes unfolding. At times the girl stands on tip-toes to reframe her own image, as if seeking approval from her partner. At another, she lies down for the eye of the camera to perceive. More than answering to the rules of attraction, the game unfolding here is one of negotiation and collaboration, of questioning and re-adjusting the potential outcome of the simple combinations between one girl and one camera in a given space. What the spectator becomes more and more aware of, is of the film-to-be, in which the same girl, putting on another top, will become her own double, through the editing of the different shots. What the spectator creates, is the-film-yet-to-come, in pre-editing the different scenes, imagining the outcome of the camera frames, and puzzling them together into a coherent film script, unrolling in his head.
The body & his double
One girl unfolding herself, like a Russian doll, into a myriad of possibilities. It could be interpreted all too easily as a psycho-analytical mirroring game. But more than a self-portrait, the MÔWN series uses the body of the artist as the simplest of tools to reveal the mechanisms of plot-unfolding, editing and our perception of (dramatic) space. ‘If I were a tall man with a moustache, I would probably be making Westerns’, she says. But as it is, a languid femininity shimmers through every one of the short films. Not in the sense of a narcissistic self-portrait, though, employing the body as the focus of the gaze, but the body as a tool for the realization of the gaze in-between, the relation between the characters, stretching over the gap between the images, in which the encounter could never take place. The gaze of the actress in one shot builds up the anticipation of the unknown target she is aiming at in the next. One look leads to another, to a long line of events, that spiral around the gaze of the protagonists(s) and the onlooker. The perspective of and on the character can only be constructed in and through the imagination of the spectator.
From theatre to film
MÔWN was the result of a research into the principles of narrativity in a theatrical setting. How can you come to another way of understanding theatre as a visual language game, referring to the editing principles of movie making? At first, Ariane Loze worked with the projection of found footage: slides from unknown family parties or travels, brought together in a context in which their sheer unrelatedness would produce the missing links in the imagination of the spectator. MÔWN takes this idea to a next level, bringing the theatricality of the body-as-a-tool into the film making. But by using the body only as a research material for laying bare the principles of logic production in the shooting and editing of the movie, the end result is not so much a psychologically or dramatically recognizable movie. Rather, in the live shoot, the process takes on an almost choreographic quality: the body moving in space in a constant relation to the still-standing camera. It is a curious duet of complicity and dependency. Also, in its theatrical poses, the body of the actress rather refers back to cliché images of emotion and drama, then depicting a ‘realistic’ take on the unfolding of the narrative. In this sense, the MÔWN-series envelops as a curious trans-disciplinary exercise, ducking the rules of every of the disciplinary esthetics, in order to come to a formal deconstruction of its rules of logic and construction.