Joost Rekveld - #37

- Could you tell us about the background of the film project ? How did it start ?

The film started with an amazing computer image I once found. It showed a kind of crystal structure that was discovered in the eighties. I could not grasp it and I thought it was extremely beautiful. Once I found out how it was made, I tried to make images using the same kind of imaging methods and the film project grew from there. When preparing this film I looked a lot at rocks and geological patterns whenever I was travelling. Also I read a lot about the history of crystallography and geology, theories about the molecular origin of life and most of all about complexity and self-organization. The film does not necessarily deal with all of that, but it does reflect it, I hope.

- Why was it important for you to make this film ?

Whilst preparing and making this film I learned a lot of things, many of them practical, but the most important was that I have become familiar with a fascinating world of ideas that I was much less familiar with before. These ideas are a lot less related to the film medium than the ideas I based my earlier work on, which was about the technology of the medium itself, or about concepts dealing with light. This also meant that in the period I've been working on this film I did many other projects and expanded towards media other than film. For me most of those other projects were in a sense spin-offs from the work on this film, even though many of them were collaborative projects or commissions and are in no way similar in result. It was a very rewarding period for me.

- Is the way you worked on this film similar to your earlier works ?

Yes and no. Technically there is a difference because most of my earlier works were made with mechanical and optical machines and on celluloid. I made this film not by building physical machines to make images, but by writing software. In many ways I found that is actually not that different, my approach to working on this film and structuring it is in many ways quite similar to my earlier work. I suppose the main difference is that whilst working with celluloid you are obliged to plan and structure more before shooting. Now I could try out much more things, which in some ways made the process more intuitive and less rigorous. It also took way more time!

- In what way do other filmmakers inspire you?

I think the filmmaker whose work inspired me by far the most for this film is James Whitney. In some sense #37 is a tribute to his film 'Lapis'. Another film of his that inspired me perhaps even more is 'Wu Ming', even though I was able to see that film only once in projection, many, many years ago. But the memory I have of the pace of that film guided me in many ways.

- Is it important for you to have your film screened in a competition programme?

To be honest I am not a big fan of competition programmes. I think it’s a good thing that there are three small Tiger Short Film awards instead of one bigger one, because at most festivals it feels like the Olympics, with all these very different sports, and only one medal at the end for all sports together.
I find the idea of a competition does not really do justice to the variety of approaches, aims and cultures that makes short or experimental film so interesting; I am not sure it makes sense to compare things that way... But on the other hand it is of course very nice to be nominated !

- Can you tell us something about the next project you will be working on?

I've started on two projects that evolved out of #37; on the one hand I am dying to build physical things again, and I have been trying out some things that resemble robotics in the past years. I am very much interested in robotic architecture, the idea of making a real space that can be changed and composed over time or that is perhaps able to organize itself. On the other hand I am thinking about software or electronics that would be able to evolve images and find answers to certain criteria. Perhaps that could result in a film, eventually.