monoscape

2017, 2,5K video, 16‘41“, color, sound

Viktor Brim's art consists in observing. What sounds mundane and ordinary is, on closer examination, complex, since every act of watching inherently involves an attitude and position, a certain relationship to the object of observation. Brim's gift is to neither exaggerate nor devalue, neither mystify nor analytically diminish the landscapes, objects and people he focuses on. Through the exact measurement of the duration of his gaze and the precise framing of the image, he succeeds, seemingly effortlessly, in making what he looks at tell its own narrative. And this on the layers of the past - through inscribed traces - of the present - through the documented presence - and also of the future - through the suggested extrapolation on the part of the viewer of events that are always visible only in fragments.

Brim's films primarily describe places and narrate through them and with them in their function as carriers of history(s). In doing so, he chooses landscapes that are deserted in the actual present of the shot, but which are fundamentally made, conceived, or shaped by people. Brim does not let people have their say directly, does not let them express their assessments, ideas and visions in words, but shows all this by means of already realized manifestations, of legacies in the world. The notched landscape, which man has made his own and shaped according to his intentions, thus serves as a mirror, archive and witness.

The video work "Monoscape" takes as its point of departure a relatively narrowly defined, unspectacular area: a small port area in the north of Cologne. Brim focuses on this monofunctional space, where various flows of traffic and goods meet and have to be synchronized, because he is fascinated by the complexity and dynamics of the logistical system behind it. He shows us a scenery designed for a global temporality, ignoring local conditions and never resting: A dynamic real-time sculpture whose veins are directly connected to the network of globally circulating goods and whose arms reach far into the local hinterland.

In this already confined area, the freedom of movement of Brim and his cinematographer Simon Baucks was further limited, as they were only allowed to stay in a small area. By using telephoto lenses, they managed to extract an amazing number of different visual tableaus from the ensemble they found. And it quickly becomes clear, this is not about documenting a local, specific port area, but about observing a global network of the circulation of goods. It is a system that once had man as its starting point and center, but has gradually become independent and follows its own inherent regularities and logical rules. Man is now only an observing, serving peripheral figure, and the human protagonists in Brim's film appear accordingly: crammed into enormous driver's cabs, where they operate two or three levers, or standing outside, lethargically waiting for the machines to complete their work and for the omnipresent logic of production to transfer them from A to B. The human protagonists in Brim's film also appear as such. Brim shows man apathetically in a system that he himself has created, but which has long since eluded and transcended him.

At the same time, "Monoscape" is also a celebration of the elegance of machines and industrial processes, their unflinching yet enigmatic functionality, and their impression of something between monumentality and delicacy. The film is so dedicated to these technical clocks that it generates its entire rhythm from the turning, lifting and rolling movements of the logistical apparatus. "The idea is to create an atmosphere that spreads through the objects and their interaction," writes the filmmaker. The fact that this succeeds is also due to the fact that Brim does not purely divide and analyze the logistical processes into their different segments, but rather examines the individual machines and their functions for their performative potential. Each shot is like a stage on which precisely choreographed actions take place. It almost seems as if they are not observed in a documentary way, but staged for observation.

The film decontextualizes the technical processes: we do not understand what is moved, lifted and pushed to where. Brim looks at the visible structures, at the surfaces and edges of the huge sculpture and questions them for their aesthetic and narrative potential. The sheer scale of the individual machines often exceeds the image field: the entire content of the image is set in motion, there is no orientation, no foothold, no outside, and even we viewers get lost in this enormous choreography of technical processes.

In the montage of his tableaus, Brim does not concentrate solely on visual analogies, but also works with contrasts. He fans out the complexity and multiformity of the visual formations and creates a whole range of partly contradictory impressions: Synchronous and contrary movements, force and fragility, speed and standstill, gravitas and weightlessness.

From an insignificant point in the port of Cologne, Brim observes the manifestations, organizational structures and interrelationships of an omnipresent global system for transporting goods. An extremely ramified, differentiated network that at least potentially connects and synchronizes the smallest corners of the world. The image that emerges is of a logistical fabric that communicates via nodes and lines and bears astonishing resemblance to models of neuronal structures. The rhythmically sophisticated montage creates its very own maelstrom, immersing us further and further into this technical fabric. And in tracing the rhythms, the flowing and jerky movements, the continuous flashing of the warning lights, the pendulum motion of the gripping arms, the trembling of the fastening strands, the turning of the crane houses and the slow rolling of the container gantry cranes, it becomes perceptible that the moods, meters and atmospheres that emerge not only reference the exterior, but also have a correspondence and correspondence to states of the interior.

Daniel Burkhardt

monoscape