by Jeff SCHER
2009 / color / sound / 1S / 1' 20
I've found that staring into the dancing flames of a burning log in a fireplace can take you out of yourself and connect you with a deep and primal place. Fire's magic is embedded in our basic humanity. At the dawn of man, fire cooked food, kept you warm and all that, but the most amazing thing fire did was conquer darkness for the first time.
It did it with attitude: it will burn you and your house if you mess with it. And it did it with style: a constantly changing light show of red, orange, white and yellow, with hissing and crackling, flying sparks and glowing embers. Being by a fire must have given our ancestors a sense of awe and well-being. Fire kept the nocturnal predators at bay and it provided our ancestors with a cinema-like live performance. The shadows cast by the fire undulate in all directions as big logs slowly morph to ash. Completely entrancing, the movement of flames in a good fire are too fast for the eye. The shape of the flames change constantly and appear to flicker; they are quite hypnotic and can even induce a meditative state.
The point of departure for making this film was the WPIX (Channel 11 in New York) tradition of broadcasting a burning yule log in a fireplace on Christmas. The camera was locked off on a shot of a fire blazing away while seasonal music played, turning your television into a literal electronic hearth. I loved the idea and I always thought it would be interesting to see if I could make an animated version, which could feel like painting with fire.
To make the flames in this film, I covered a light box with a thin coat of black clay. As the light warmed the clay, it became very soft and almost soupy. This made it easy to draw in the clay with sticks and fingers. In the places where the clay was removed; the light blazed through. I laid a sheet of glass, painted red, yellow and orange with transparent oil paints, over the top of the clay to give the flames color. As I drew them, each flame had a Rorschach effect, suddenly turning into a face or some figurative image.
Shay Lynch's delicately haunting score contains echoes of holidays past with the sleigh bells that run through the piece while underscoring the enchantment of losing yourself in this elemental ballet.
|distribution format||Digital file on server|
|screen||16/9 (single screen)|
|rental fee||19,00 €|