Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, Radio Version (5.1 mix)
Filmmaker Ernst Karel in person
Swiss Mountain Transport Systems consists of location recordings made during the summer and fall of the various transport systems that are specific to mountainous terrain—gondolas (aerial cable cars), funiculars, and chairlifts—of different types, of different vintages, and accessing different elevations, in different parts of Switzerland. Recorded from within mostly enclosed mobile environments, this emergent music includes mechanical drones, intermittent percussiveness, and transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape inhabited by humans and other animals.
Screening with other sound work.
Focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab
In a mere eight years, the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University has gone from an unusually ambitious academic program to one of the most vital incubators of nonfiction and experimental cinema in the United States. Lucien Castaing-Taylor established the SEL in 2006 on the premise that documentary and art are not mutually exclusive and that the intensive fieldwork of anthropology could nourish both. In practice this means rejecting the laziest devices in the contemporary documentarian’s tool kit: reductive story arcs, infantilizing voiceovers and talking heads, manipulative music cues. It also reconnects documentary to the work of such pioneers as Robert Flaherty and Jean Rouch, and indeed to the medium’s eternal promise as an instrument for both capturing reality and heightening the senses. The films in this selection, including work produced at the SEL and work that inspired SEL makers, attest to the aspirations of sensory ethnography: to experience the world, and to transmit some of the magnitude and multiplicity of that experience. Presented in collaboration with the 2014 Whitney Biennial.