A man films living things. He archives them in paradoxical wet preparations. Images held in fluid that could outlive him. In 2100, his daughter will be 86. He will be 129.
Any filmmaker, especially if their practice is totally linked to digital tools, possesses dozens of hard drives full of thousands of hours of dormant images. Sometimes, a banal accident occurs that belies the promises of eternity proffered by current storage media and decimates this material, unless of course technological advances and their programmed obsolescence finally mean that one day this memory will become tragically inaccessible. Should we do as Philippe Rouy (4 Buildings Facing the Sea, Fovea Centralis): use old conservation methods and immerse these drives in formol, or more specifically in the liquid invented by the German pathologist Johann Carl Kaiserling (1869-1942) that preserves the natural colours of specimens and gives the film its title? A clearly ironic solution, which accelerates and ritualises the dreaded destruction. But it also cheats death by changing the register of visibility. Opaque boxes, already eviscerated, reveal their shiny mechanics through the curved sides of the jars, while some of them develop strange patterns akin to the corruption that degrades digital images. This is the starting point of an essay whose cryptic associations impress a cruel clarity on our mind, when the joy felt by a child babbling their first words at the sight of a pig in the mud is followed by the George Franju’s radio story about the most terrifying horror film – one that watches you suffer with a broad smile.
Philippe Rouy is a director. His trilogy dedicated to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, 4 buildings, facing the sea, Machine to Machine and Fovea centralis, has been presented, among others, at the FIDMarseille, Cinéma du Réel, Mumbai Film Festival, Torino Film Festival.