Ben Russell | Black Audio Film Collective
Against Time + The Last Angel of History - Rewire
Against Time by Ben Russell – 23 min, 2022, Verenigd Koninkrijk
A tone-poem in blue and red by US artist and experimental filmmaker Ben Russel, Against Time is a visually staggering kind of cine diary, shot on various locations between 2019 and 2022. Trying to find a way through the fog of recent years, the piece plays with dissolving images, non-linear montage, modular synthesis, and a variety of looping techniques to reflect on how we experience time as a fragmented phenomenon. It results in hypnotic and beautiful experimental cinema that seems to mirror life in all of its interpersonal intricacies.
The Last Angel of History by Black Audio Film Collective – 46 min, 1995, Verenigd Koninkrijk
One of the most influential video-essays of the 1990s, influencing filmmakers and inspiring conferences, novels, and exhibitions. BAFC’s exploration of the chromatic possibilities of digital video is embedded within a mythology of the future that creates connections between Black non-popular culture, outer space, and the limits of the human condition. This cinematic essay posits science fiction – with tropes such as alien abduction, estrangement, and genetic engineering – as a metaphor for the Pan-African experience of forced displacement, cultural alienation, and otherness. Included are interviews with Black cultural figures, from musicians DJ Spooky, Goldie, and Derek May, who discuss the importance of George Clinton to their own music, to George Clinton himself. In keeping with the futuristic tenor of the film, the interviews are intercut with images of Pan-African life from different periods of history, jumping between time and space from the past to the future to the present, not unlike the visual mode of many rock videos of the film’s time.
The Last Angel of History is presented as part of a focus programme on the work by sound composer and artist Trevor Mathison, who is part of the Black Audio Film Collective, a pioneering arts initiative founded in 1982 whose ground-breaking experimental works engaged with Black popular and political culture in Britain and the Black and Asian diasporas.