Earthquake Bird. Eeerie

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Earthquake Bird is a movie directed and written by Wash Westmoreland. It has been released at the London Film Festival on the 10th of October this year. It tells the same story as the book Earthquake Bird, written by Susanna Jones.  In spite of its negative reviews and average rating, I found this movie inspiring and unsettling in an artistic manner. Right from the start, a heavy atmosphere, a sense of peculiar and tension floats in the air. The streets of a 1980s Tokyo, the faded colors with a tint of sepia transported me directly into the movie. Alicia Vikander’s character, Lucy Fly, is surrounded by an air of tragedy and guilt that accumulates slowly and stimulates curiosity. Her acting is excellent and throughout the movie she divulges fragments of information and secrets that build up this dramatic aura around her. In one of the scenes, where Lucy is with Teiji, a Japanese photographer that is equally as mysterious as her, she exclaims: ‘Death follows me!’. This proves to be a strong statement that defined her past, but also a prediction about the path of her relationship with Teiji.

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Lucy Fly is a complex character that has definitely not been explored enough. She is an introvert person that carries an overwhelming feeling of guilt. She escaped Sweden to forget, to start anew, but she never managed to do so. Japan was supposed to be her second chance, but bad luck followed on her footsteps to the new, faraway land. Lily, the new girl in town, vibrant, naive in a way, but also a bit mischievous, is the opposite of Lucy. She seems to be quite superficial at the beginning, and Lucy considers her a burden. However, she somehow manages to get under Lucy’s skin. She starts to reveal details about herself, but everything is cut short by a speeded up twist and her being suddenly murdered. Her character is and could have been more complex, but the director chose to keep her as a standard antagonist, a woman who simply betrays her friend in search for intense, momentary passion. During her friendship with Lily, Lucy has an amalgam of mixed emotions towards her. She starts to like her as a friend, she is intrigued by her energy, by her contrasting persona and is at the same time, subconsciously fantasizing about closer, physical touches. All these contradictory emotions are mixed in the end with unbearable envy and Lucy’s desire to kill Lily. The intolerable urge to have Lily removed from her and Teiji’s lives stems from the fact that Lucy considers Teiji to be the only person that saw her for who she really was and Lily is a threat to her connection with the photographer.

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Teiji, the photographer that documents the scenes and objects in the city and nature, maintains that he does not photograph people. He starts taking photos of Lucy and brings her back to his small studio apartment in an old, rusty, rundown building. His creativity, his silent nature, his good looks, his special enjoyment in photographing Lucy charm her. Teiji requires from the beginning that there be no pretense between them. He is a mysterious character that does not reveal much about his life. He definitely does not like small talk and is extremely private about his collection of photography. Lucy seems to be a photographic object for him, not a real person with feelings and desires. He is more stimulated by her images in the dark room, rather than by the real Lucy. He keeps all his photography in a locked drawer, which suggests that he is hiding either some dark secret or puzzle pieces from a traumatic past that he would rather dump in a locked drawer, but also in an imaginary, sealed safebox inside his mind. Teiji is a criminal and his photographs document the transformation of the victims, the paths of the murdered women and their final grimace and body posture after they have been murdered. Teiji murders Lily and only his sudden shift in passion possibly saves Lucy’s life. The movie cuts short any explanations or details of Teiji’s murderous instincts and motives.

 

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The love triangle between Lucy, Lily and Teiji is part of  a plot that blends in several spicy themes: love, shifting passion, twists of life, betrayal, guilt, death, murder, art, bad luck and peculiar circumstances. In spite of the fact that the second half of the film is rushed, and that the characters could have been developed more, the beauty of the scenes, the photographic facial expressions, the passive, faded warm colors, the eerie mystery, the build up of tension sprinkled with random, shocking exposes, the black and white photography collections, the old film camera, the rhythm and sound of the camera clicks, Lucy’s dark, timid and shaky personality, her longing for company, for love, her submissiveness to a tall, dark, mysterious and cold stranger and Lily’s unconstrained nature make up an exquisite, dreamy movie.

 

Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?

Word Doodling

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A canvas is the rationalizing, patronizing 

Tool of a tool of an artist of his hands

Of his form as artist, of his copy of the copy

Of the fake of the fake

As Plato might say, of something real 

In heaven.

But what would a canvas look like

In heaven? 

 

Ideas, just ideas of thoughts, of randomness

Ideas of questions, never answered

Forever questioning philosophy

Ideas that give rise to things big and small. 

What is a chair? 

I am philosophizing in class

But the world outside 

Is full of reproach. 

Why? Forever questioning, forever wondering

The mental issue of the privileged

The higher concern of those…

“Distinct from animals”

My philosophy professor said:

– Without critical thinking

Constant questioning, a.k.a philosophy 

We are like animals!

Or dead, not worth living. 

I beg to disagree

I wish to disagree. 

An animal is not a lesser being.

People concerned with the material

Might do so to survive.

It is a choice, 

to do philosophy or not 

to see the purpose of philosophy or not.

A dog is a dog of the shape of the copy

Of a painting of the absurd of a dog of a question

Philosophy is a 

privileged person’s CONCERN. 

P.S: I, too, philosophize. 

 

Borderline

 

Foggy-Day

 

Strong, black coffee on a frosty November day,

The thrills of the birds transform bricks into clay

An amalgam of broken emotions fly and they may

Yesterday I begged disillusion to stay!

Imaginary thoughts trapped in a box

Spin with fervor and hunt like a fox.

Desirous to impose a reality of their own,

Suppress the world as it is known.

But despair not, you lost soul

You tossed and you turned until you found coal.

And misty indifference veiled the magic at dusk

The empty contents struck as poison in a flask!