Robert Seidel

experimental film, 10:01min, Germany 2004


_grau is a personal reflection on memories coming up during a car accident, where past events emerge, fuse, erode and finally vanish ethereally. Various real sources were distorted, filtered and fitted into a sculptural structure to create not a plain abstract, but a very private snapshot of a whole life within its last seconds.


The cinematic structure of _grau is based on a personal discussion, in which I formulated my standpoint that no events falls into pure black/white or bad/good. The shade changes by factors like time, space and personal relations to it. As a result I came up with the name _grau for the movie, which is the german word for gray, containing everything inbetween the extremes. Also the length of 10:01 minutes is related to this and refers to the binary system by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, where he ascribes 1 to god and 0 to the devil. And finally the colors of the movie itself never reach pure black or white respectively. These structural ideas build the foundation of _grau and haven’t changed from the beginning. Just the underscore was added to the name, as it allowed me to find my working directories on my hard drive more easily, as this name always gets shown in first place.


My original plan was it to create a purely abstract movie, exploring these concepts and freeing my mind from some very depressing commercial work I had to do over years. I wanted to create a textural deep, inspired by the complexity of nature without willing to copy it. So I did a lot of research of different ways to generate three-dimensional geometry without the cumbersome tools available. More spontaneous explorations of the space came for example from 3d scans, MRT data of my brain or captured motions of myself. While travelling to one of the technical institutes helping me out with technology I almost had an accident, which shifted the planned abstract structure into a more “personal history” narration. This made me think less of primal notion itself, but how I would perceive my whole life compressed into some seconds rushing through my brain. A kind of unweighted chaos, where small events become more important than a couple of years and everything transforms in a very fluid way.  It also incorporates my visual development from the beginning, not only using the computer or doing paintings, but ranging from toy shapes, ice crystal fractals or plant growth. Layering all these different spatial concepts organically, created a slowly evolving and almost breathing complexity out of very basic ideas, a kind of a emotional distillate.


Every sculptural moment has a meaning that originates from real experiences and is adapted from my sketches, my own body fragments or filtered through scientific visualization methods. For example the first, still colored seconds are the prismatic halos of the collision fading into gray. From there on the temporal structure develops backwards, bringing up current and past memories and finally resulting into the “decision fur”. Here every hair strand is representing one decision I made in my life, altogether resulting in the accident. The musical framework supports these ideas and connects my memories born out of the dramatic moments to clusters. These are unleashed from the image flux partially - to ease the desired, free associations of the beholder.


Even though _grau is a movie technically, I think it is more a hybrid form: a living painting (Tableaux Vivants) of branching memory structures. It was my diploma work at the Bauhaus University Weimar and is the third work (Lightmare, 2001 and E3, 2002), that tries to explore the relationship between digital imagery and the real world. Technology allows to layer, re-structure and compress memories and importantly put them into motion in very unique ways, thereby allowing the procedural exploration of coherences in a way never possible before in history. All my works can be downloaded at www.2minds.de and please feel free to contact me under info@grau1001.de.