header image: ‘Bouquet 7’ (1995) by Rose Lowder
I am absolutely tickled by the fact of a filmmaker named Rose making a name for herself with a ‘Bouquet’ series, collecting flowers in her viewfinder.
Lowder’s intercutting confronts the limits of our eyes, brain, and comprehension. She scrambles our vision in order to gift us a new kind of clarity. This type of rapid-fire single-frame photography is used with frequency in the avant-garde, yet often with wholly abstract images, or concrete images obfuscated so as to be rendered nearly abstract despite our recognition of basic objects. Lowder instead typically uses the technique to ‘blend’ two distinct and clearly photographed objects (or rather, living beings that we have come to regard as objects).
“People sometimes ask why I make films about flowers, whether there are not more important things to do today than to make films about flowers. My answer would be: are there really more important things? If we don’t have flowers, we don’t have bees and, if the bees disappear, we’re going to disappear as well because the bees are an essential link in our food chain. When a society cannot sustainably produce its own food, it disappears. Hence the answer is that flowers are a relevant subject for a film.” —Excerpt From: Rose by Rose Lowder.
As I continue to journey through the mass of Lowder films available as preview files on Light Cone, it’s true that most of her work tends to repeat the same techniques, and that even when the single-frame approach is not used for the entirety of a film, it makes itself known at some point.
In one instance, I was wholly dumbfounded by a shot of running water. There are lackadaisically ‘moving’ ocean surfaces throughout her work, and even up-close spurts of running water (such as briefly in Bouquet 7), but in turbulence (2015), she casts a steady and macro gaze upon the rushing of a stream. By the end of the film’s 7 minutes, we have come so close to the water that our understanding of the onscreen movement is altered by our lack of visual context. On my first viewing, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t witnessing the use of her typical single-frame alternations, but fixated on a single subject which, unlike her usual flowers and trees (and even animals), continued to pulse rapidly between the exposure of each frame. In re-watching the film, I understand that by simply filming the water as it is, in such a tight frame as to portray pure kineticism, Lowder has finally found a means of making nature do her bidding for her.
When I see films such as those of Rose Lowder (or Teo Hernandez, etc.), I am often compelled to see what my attempts to replicate their techniques with a digital camera might look like. I try to bring such otherworldly energy to a notoriously flat medium. In making a short such as the one you will see below, I consider it an important study on my path as both filmmaker and observer, a means by which to better understand the work I admire.
Lowder has noted that “You don’t do the same kind of work on a farm in winter because things don’t grow and it’s the same for my filmmaking.” Yet my enthrallment with Lowder’s work happened to hit in winter. Many times Tijana and I had discussed whether our own tendency to photograph Berlin on sunny days was ‘dishonest’ for skipping the city’s primary look (gray). Thus I decided to try my hand at a digital winter rendition of Lowder’s style.
As the short is less than a minute, I encourage you to open it in full-screen and set the resolution to 1080p or higher before hitting play.