Xcèntric Archive

In connection with the exhibition Brain(s), this selection of films from the Xcèntric Archive proposes a journey aimed at exploring the various relationships between the self and the brain. From stroboscopic images, external stimuli that transport the viewer to unexpected mental spaces, to an explanation of the principle of human consciousness based on a comparison between the different perceptive processes of man and animal, this playlist invites us to reflect on the possibilities offered by the medium of film to represent and examine the idea of the brain more symbolically than literally.

Last Lost, Eve Heller, 1996, Austria, 14'.

In Last Lost, Eve Heller uses a chimpanzee's viewpoint to investigate the emotional psychology of the world around him, showing the main differences between humans and animals: it's not the brain that makes us human but how we use our brains to understand the world.

Cómo dibujar animales tristes… (How to draw sad animals...), Laura Ginès and Pere Ginard, 2009, Spain, 4' 34''.

In the beginning was the word. In a passage from Genesis (2:19), Adam gives all the animals a name, a fact that historically marks how we refer to them. In Cómo dibujar animales tristes… the written word does not equal the filmed image - or at least the way we would traditionally call it - but creates surprising associations and synergies by being related through editing.

Hand Eye Coordination, Naomi Uman, 2002, United States, 10'.

Hand Eye Coordination highlights the causes and effects of manipulated experience by exploring the ways in which touch affects visual perception. To this end, Naomi Uman contrasts the manual manipulation of the film medium with its projection on screen.

T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, Paul Sharits, 1968, USA, 12'.

T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G manages to trick the brain by constantly repeating the same word, whose meaning changes depending on how it's heard: "Disturb", "Destroy", "This Door", "Bistro" or "Withdraw". Paul Sharits' aim is to make the viewer experience the limits of perception through the cinematic form, based on a deceptive soundtrack and a constant, aggressive flickering of images.

Diwan, Werner Nekes, 1973, Germany, 85'. Recommended excerpt: 1h 2' 1'' - 1h 10' 21''.

In Hynningen, one of the five pieces that make up Diwan, the filmmaker Werner Nekes explores the textures and light of a space traversed by the passage of time, of an area that's neither part of the present nor the past but encompasses the "between" of both. According to Nekes' "Kine" theory, the viewer's brain is responsible for linking two successive frames and it's precisely in "what happens between the images" that cinematic language can be found.

Dream Work, Peter Tscherkassky, 2001, Austria, 10' 15''.

Within the temporal lobe of the brain, the hippocampus plays a central role in our ability to remember, imagine and dream. In Dream Work, a woman lies in bed and enters a nefarious representation of time, deeply intertwining small fragments of memory and images that are far removed from reality.

At Land, Maya Deren, 1944, United States, 16'.

Without memory there's no consciousness and no personality. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that not only plays a crucial role in consolidating both short and long-term memory but is also one of the keys to the correct orientation of individuals. At Land examines the idea of disorientation with respect to space as a consequence of the disorientation of the self or, in other words, the consolidation of a protagonist with multiple identities, split in space-time. As Maya Deren stated about its central theme, "the film is about the struggle to maintain one's personal identity".

Corpus Callosum, Michael Snow, 2001, Canada, 92'. Recommended excerpt: 37' 3'' - 39' 42'' .

The corpus callosum is the area of the brain that links the two hemispheres and, therefore, is the part that allows these two hemispheres to communicate properly. For Michael Snow, the corpus callosum of cinema is the artist who brings together image and sound, the two hemispheres of this art form. Cinema therefore allows us to reflect on the antitheses that make up the world around us: being and non-being, natural and artificial, reality and fiction, true and false, etc. In the excerpt in question, a group of children are closely observing a Penrose triangle, trying to decipher, logically, what is considered to be "impossibility in its purest form". Gradually, they become aware of the camera watching them, becoming aware of the simulation in which they're immersed.

You can view the works of this playlist in the Xcèntric Archive.