Arbor Labor

Arbor Labor
AT 2024
7:25, 24fps
black-and-white and color, with sound

Sound: Marko Sulz
Assistant Camera: Andreas Nagl
Filmlab: Andec Cinegrell GmbH and filmkoop wien
Distributor: sixpackfilm
Supported by: BMKÖS, Cine Art Steiermark, Stadt Wien MA7

Arbor Labor is an encounter of the cinema audience with the forest. The vibrant and tactile realm made sensually perceptible with puristic filmic means.
This cinematic journey combines in-camera footage with rayograms, where the forest is directly transferred onto the film material. The result is a complex collage that skillfully forms a connection between traditional structural filmmaking and the urgent issue of the current climate crisis.

Synopsis (German)
Arbor Labor ist eine Begegnung des Kinopublikums mit dem Wald.
Ein lebendiger, haptischer und geheimnisvoller Ort, der durch puristische filmische Mittel sinnlich erfahrbar gemacht wird. Diese filmische Reise kombiniert in der Kamera entstandenen Aufnahmen mit Photogrammen, bei denen der Wald direkt auf das Filmmaterial übertragen wird. Das Ergebnis ist eine komplexe Collage, die eine Verbindung zwischen traditionellen strukturellem Film und dem dringenden Thema der aktuellen Klimakrise herstellt.

Director’s Statement
The climate catastrophe moves me deeply and I find it difficult to understand why not every effort is being made to ensure a sustainable future. I am firmly convinced that a change in values in society and pressure on politicians are the decisive steps in order to deal with the
current climate crisis. As an avant-garde filmmaker, it is my mission to create new perspectives and encourage audiences to rethink.

With Arbor Labor, I want to show the dense, material-rich, overgrown, rooted and interwoven form of the forest through also diverse and multifaceted cinematic possibilities.
In a strictly purist, analog DIY approach, the forest was portrayed as a place of diversity and life. Inspired by the roots of Austrian and American avant-garde film, I used my preferred medium: analog film. For me, the potential of film is far from obsolete and unfolds particularly through self-empowerment in DIY practice. Here I also see a connection to the topic itself: Non-commercial approach, finding alternative solutions, dealing with limited resources, rethinking and being innovative – all of this is also necessary to answer questions in the current environmental situation.

The scenes filmed in Arbor Labor were shot in a Bolex camera on fine-grained Kodak color film. The images were created in a complex way, partly with multiple exposures, up to five times. The Paillard-Bolex camera functions not only as a means of capturing images, but also as a formal guideline and, to a certain extent, as the protagonist of the film. This part of the project is a „camera film“ in the truest sense of the word.

The black-and-white film images were created using cameraless exposure techniques in the darkroom, including contact prints and photograms. These show the organic structure of the leaves, the „found footage“ of the forest, directly on the film strip. This process captures the forest on the film strip and creates flicker-like sequences in the projection, which, when enlarged on the screen, offer the audience an extraordinary experience of the natural environment.

For me, Arbor Labor is part of the avant-garde tradition of nature films that focus on analytical, sensual aspects, concentrating on perception and expanding it.

The title Arbor Labor comes from Latin – as is usual in botany.
„Arbor“ means „Tree“ and „laboratory“ stands for both „effort“ and „work“, as well as a space for research, experimentation and the darkroom.

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