Polyrhythm Technoir Part III
Leisure Time Future: The Rattlesnake
Vimeo link if embed won’t load: https://vimeo.com/146688412/9343c38ac2
Polyrhythm Technoir Part II
An Endless Cigarette / Eine Endlose Cigarette
Polyrhythm Technoir Part I
Psycho Thrill Cologne
There is a striking scene in Danji Buck- Moore, Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr’s Leisure Time Future. Drawing a much wider circle around the techno-scene, the third part of the directors’ trilogy on the history and culture of the techno scene gives the voice to those who are involved; festival goers, programmers, and many more. A young white man, perhaps in his early 20s, expresses something that sticks: “My body as white can reflect or serve as a trigger for other people of racial traumas. And this has particularly to do with the history of white imperialism. … My body definitely has the potential to reflect all of these things. … So for me it’s really important about trying to represent myself and my situation in so far as it reflects…eh, like an example of white culture that is not destructive.”
This statement is emblematic for the film’s wider concern with the scene. The Rattle Snake is more than just about techno music. It speaks of sustainability and of shamanism. It speaks of experiences, in clubs, at festivals; in a community or by oneself. It is a film about experience; for the DJs, the listeners, and the viewer. It opens up, and lets the subject matter breathe and develop in a smooth, organic way. This deep in- and exhaling is precisely what makes Buck-Moore, Fehr and Rühr’s film so engaging. The Rattlesnake is not so much rattling. It is meditative and meditating.
This third and last part of the attempted trilogy on the techno scene is driven by voice and music, by interviews, and a remarkable and persistent soundscape. More often than not, the sound does not fit the image, nor do we always see the people whose voices we hear. This has a peculiar effect. While several interviewees speak about their experiences with music and scene, the film becomes an experience itself. It is not a documentary. Rather, it is a visual and aural experience. The directors dislocate our aural and visual perception, and want us to let the film happen to us. In between superbly unscripted, therefore beautifully natural inteviews, the film asks us to contemplate wide open and empty landscapes with traces of 1960s American landscape art; perfectly minimalist, absolutely enriching. The sheer openness of these landscapes liberates our viewing. The directors do not force us to look at a particular element in a frame. Instead, we are free to contemplate whatever we choose to contemplate. It is this visual freedom which is comes closes to the freedom many interviewees point to. It is a common ground the viewer shares with people of the techno scene in the film. But the audience is in an entirely different atmosphere than the festival goer in most circumstances.
Buck-Moore, Fehr and Rühr achieve a wonderful symbiosis of subject matter and aesthetics by juxtaposing the two. The average viewer would perhaps associate techno with fast rhythms. Yet the documentary about this very music genre is well paced. The lengthy takes of both interviews and landscape shots create a pace which is spoken of in the film; the pace is meditative, you can feel the film breathe in and out in a very calm rhythm, thereby confronting our expectations. Perhaps it is frustrating. At the same time, it is an immensely rewarding experience to breathe with a film. We are part of it. The directors make sure not to create the typical distinction between film and audience. Rather, through their aesthetic approach they try to link the two. In this way, The Rattle Snake is more than just a documentary. It goes beyond that. In parts it is a deeply observational film work, penetrating the first and most visible of the techno scene, namely the music, the quick beats. At the same time, its leisurely pace is perfectly reminiscent of the long duration of raves, of festivals, of hours spent in individual immersion in the music.
The Rattlesnake peels several layers off like that of an onion and lays bare a simple core which is at the heart of any scene, whether it is music, or painting, or filmmaking: individual fulfillment. This appears to be the driving force, not only of the people whom the directors have spoken to. In its very aesthetics – exploring, meditative, open – the film aims for this kind of fulfillment in similar ways, and the directors are keen on creating something the viewer him- or herself can find fulfillment in. I certainly did.
Miami: Art Basel at Positions, December 3-6 2015