Synchronic Cinema
(September 2022)

Synchronic cinema, the title, is of course impossible, and a provocation. The descriptive version of the title would be Synchronism vs Cinema. Maps are synchronic, a solid state of affairs dividing space into boundaries and stable identities. Adding time, boundaries and identities shift. Even in the Chronos time of history we can see that map borders move, Adding experienced and mediated cinematic duration, or the Kairos time of the event, we can see things, people, and their stories, move fluidly, a static border is just one fiction constructed at one moment of time, a very dangerous fiction of nativism. Borders = murders. This is why we need durational cinema to challenge the solidity of maps, and why we enter google maps to set up a film studio there.

The storytelling method, a voice over plus landscapes, across varied modes of liveness, is influenced by Fukerio (landscape theory), is a term originating in 60s Japan for a style of filmmaking that depicts subjects only through footage landscapes they lived in, showing how latent systems in these landscapes shape identity. Masao Adachi’s Serial Killer, looked at the path of a young, marginalised, native man in Japan becoming a cop killer in relation to the soft power in the impoverished landscapes of the present where he grew up. Narrative can only testify to inevitability.

Synchronic cinema deals with a different type of alienation, an alienation that is not necessarily bad. The protagonist finds themself in an unrecognisable and seemingly placeless time and timeless place. Like the Nike ad where the camera moves through a frozen world at the moment that Michael Jordan is doing his famous air Jordan dunk. Only Michael Jordan moves (experiences duration) through a moment affixed in history. But ours will not be the decisive moment. The bodies along the street move between static everyday poses, and as we cut between locations the time of maps only stutters forward, knowing that the google car isn’t literally everywhere at once, a random person follows us down the street in freeze frames, as in the enclosed, circulating moments of the film La Jetee. Yet durational time moves forward at experienced speed, via a voice over and edits, and these speeds grind against each other. The montage of synchronic cinema happens in modulating multiple speeds.

Google maps are also a means of control that mediate and track our relation to landscape only to capture everyone’s time in order to sell it back to them, the paths of google’s cars are not unlike the border making activities of maps. Synchronic cinema takes google’s technological promise literally: The promise of interaction to capture place and access other temporalities. We take Google literally if only to steal back contemporaneity in a dead present.

Within this alien-nation as threat we look for it as liberation, using the “grey alien” identity of Narva’s grey passport holders for what Bertold Brecht called the alienation effect: To see and intervene in things (identity, actuality) from within the narrative, treating them as the temporal fictions they are, and thus malleable. As global networks take an increasing hold the demand for the fiction of localness increases: people fall between the cracks and on the privileged end airbnb easyjet experiential biennale culture is used to ameliorate it, as is site-specific art, which is another critique hidden in our collaboration’s name. When Danile Huillet does a film remake of Tacitus’ Histories she sets the story in its original location in Rome, with experience collecting tourists lusting after site specificity in the background, this 1970 film (Othon) collides timescales in the map to produce a proto Synchronic Cinema.

Within the global networked time of google, ancient temples and tacos are just pins on the same map, and independent modes of felt time in various locations began to collapse and blur into each other. “What they call images have become the murder of the present”, writes Jean Luc Godard in one film, “bring back duration” in the preceding one. Synchronic cinema montages diasporic experienced time with this contemporaneous ‘map’ or ‘murdered’ time. It is not trying to rescue the past, and if it is only by modulating speeds, animating dead worlds with felt duration.

What does taking google literally mean? The stories we work with convey the uncanniness of the fiction of localism transcended by technology. We want to open the space-time of cinema up to the same effects that being digital could have on gender. These are the ghosts or new possibilities and identities that hide in the spectral travel of screens. Yet only cinematic time can animate these ghosts stuck in synchronism once they speak they start to grate and erode the stasis of the boundaries that birthed them.

In order to attempt to store time, store diaspora, we are interested in the relationship between space and time, especially their floating, participatory, contingent qualities. We produce liveness, actuality: Seizing the day! Which is maybe ironic, the archivability of time, like the title Synchronic Cinema, is like we said a piece of polemic. Synchronic movies are films generated live, nonexistent but for code on a server, until people visit the site. When maps updates the film updates too. The spatial present is live (at the last moment google’s cars did their rounds) and the same camera choreography takes place in the present, and the voice over (original story) stores a floating subjective story time in the voice. There is a montage of historical speeds and durational presents that generate more than the sum of their individual speeds: an emerging real time cinema. When google maps cars drive past a clocktower, we ask the archetypal question: what time is it? What is seized by maps, that is Kairos time, can be re-circulated, what is kept in a safe (in Google’s time bank) can be cracked, relocated, recirculated.

Project Synchronic Cinema is in collaboration with Quenton Miller.