The work of film-watching

Watching Lee’s 30 minute film yesterday at the University of East London’s conference on Radical Space was hard-going. There is no seductive, ruin porn imagery here, and no metaphorical statement to ponder. Instead, the repetitive wave action operates like a blunt tool, hammering away at your eyes and brain, asking where the limits of your endurance are.

There was no sense of deja vu for me. And this is because, I think, the physical force of those celluloid waves made the occasional glimpses of Hashima island little oases of calm; the colours, particularly the reds and greens (anything except blue-gray), were like a balm. And here were shapes and objects that stayed still, as opposed to twisting and turning at odd, acute angles. I hadn’t seen Hashima like that before.

One image did occur to me in the aftermath, and that was JJ Grandville’s ‘Juggler of Universes’ from 1844, where any notion of a cosmic harmony is wrenched away by a laughing, manic buffoon-figure, such that perverse chance holds sway. Hassall, biographer of Hashima, juggler of universes.

Juggler of Universes – Illustration by J. J. Grandville from Un Autre Monde [Paris: H. Fournier, 1844].

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