(35mm scope, 31 min, 2009)
“Andronicos says that in a certain place in Spain one finds small, scattered stones which are polygonal and grow spontaneously. Some of them are white, others are like wax and pregnant of smaller stones similar to themselves.
I kept one to verify this myself and it gave birth at my place, so the story is not a lie.”
“Ἁνδρόνικός φησιν ἐν Ἱσπανίᾳ ἔν τινι τόπῳ λιθάρια εὑρίσκεσθαι περιερριμμένα πολύγωνα αὐτοφυῆ, ἃ μὲν λευκὰ ἅ δὲ κηροειδῆ, ἃ καὶ κύει ὅμοια ἑαυτοῖς λιθάρια. Τούτων δὴ καὶ ἐγὼ ἓν πείρας ἕνεκα ἔσχον, ὃ δὴ ἔτεκε παρ’ ἐμοί, ὥστε τὸ ῥῆμα μὴ εἶναι ψεῦδος.”
‘Paradoxographus Palatinus’, anonymous, 3rd century.
Many pre-modern theories consider crystals as an intermediate form between the mineral, vegetative and animal kingdoms, an idea that acquires new resonances in the light of recent developments in the fields of artificial chemistry and artificial life. These new fields, with their hypothetical universes and ‘what-if’ scenarios, explore a kind of simulation that is far beyond the kind of photo-realistic simulations seen in many industrial computer animations. They have aspects in common with the way early abstract painters, filmmakers and light artists were developing a language to express hitherto unexpressable aspects of the universe through direct sensual experience.
Film #37 is part of an ongoing exploration of the propagation and diffraction of light through holes and grids. The inspiration for #37 came from the way crystallographers use X-ray to investigate the internal structure of crystals. This structure can be inferred from the interference patterns the X-ray waves produce after percolating through the symmetrical arrangement of molecules in the crystal. In 1984, X-ray diffraction made the discovery of so called ‘quasicrystals’ possible; the starting point of #37 were the computer simulations produced by scientists in order to understand such quasiperiodic structures.
During the making of this film, these ideas and tools led to the development of what could be called an ‘artificial physics’: a simulated universe with a variable number of dimensions, inhabited by particles that act on their neighbours and organize themselves into constellations with a varying level of symmetry. The images of the film are the simulated diffraction patterns produced by these constellations.
I’ve started the very first work on this film in 2000, and in the past years this project has been the nucleus around which my interests in geometry, tesselations, complexity, self-organization and artificial life have crystallized.
This film was made possible by grants from the Dutch Filmfund and the Interregeling.
© 2009, Joost Rekveld / Filmstad Producties B.V.
many thanks to:
#37 will have its premiere at the upcoming International Film Festival Rotterdam on Saturday the 24th of January at 19h30 in Pathé 6.
The film is being distributed by Filmbank (Amsterdam), Lightcone (Paris), Ralph McKay (Marfa, TX) and myself. A version on HD video is in distribution with the NIMK in Amsterdam. There is also a version on 4K video for which you can contact me. See here for contacts.