Richard Kerr: Industrie

Lots of artists have been collecting bits of Hollywood detritus and re-fashioning them into commentary. Few of their works surpass the artistry and sheer watchability of Richard Kerr’s films.

Teaching in Montreal at Concordia for the past five years or so, Kerr has rightly taken on the French language, at least for the titles of his films. Made from recent film trailers, collage d’hollywood originated in, was worked on in and finished on 35mm film. Without the aid of any digital effects, it is just as complex and tightly cadenced as any computer edited piece. Special effects come ready supplied in the clips themselves. To this, Kerr layers and loops the images and soundtracks. The films may be already forgotten but their rich, undifferentiated multi-million dollar cinematography lives on in Kerr’s work. hollywood decollage is made from sci-fi clips. With the aid of a computer, he switches seamlessly from triple to double screen and back to single. hollywood decollage is like an avalanche rumbling down a mountain completely blanketing the senses. What connects both films is the underlying fear parlayed by Hollywood into big bucks. Pitting high-tech special effects against the primitive reptilian brain is the stock in trade of the Hollywood blockbuster. Kerr lays bare the shock and awe that is Hollywood.

Le bombardement: le port des perles is a throwback to the days when fear of nuclear annihilation was rampant. Currently, we think of history’s end as an ecological disaster, but no doubt war and quite possibly nuclear war will be the eventual outcome. Le bombardement depicts the end in blood, fire and floods under a tissue paper collage of strong primary colours. Kerr’s mastery of these bewitching colours was no doubt gleaned from Hollywood’s seductive and overwhelming use of earth tones.

Lastly demi-mode is a DVD recreation of a double panel slide show of faces in electronic interference patterns that fracture into warped renderings of stained glass windows. Beautiful and haunting, they continue the apocalyptic theme. These are the death masks of the corpses left in the rubble, glowing radioactively.

Richard Kerr’s Industrie DVD is not a mockery of Hollywood and the way it spins its tales through light and sound, but rather a key to its spectacular mythologies. The one he stumbles into most fatally is death. Not just the death of our planet, but also the death of the soul. Hollywood propels its audience into outer space and draws them back into the cave, the eternal womb-tomb. Hollywood is an optical hearth for the primitive modern human, for evidence of this just watch Richard Kerr’s Industrie DVD. (Linda Feesey)



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