straight is the line from the heart to the star
Be it poetry, cinema, sound, stage, everything the two of them do is done with a kind of rage that leaves you stunned. Their sound, for example, extensive, grave and apocalyptic, mixed from amplified natural elements, make those who listen dumbfounded. Their art is staggering in every respect, in the 16th century sense of the French word 'sidérant', when it meant: 'influenced by the stars'. Their music is a radioscopy of the chaos of the universe and of matter.The images in their films are eternally in a dense involutionary relationship with each other, forming violently colourful complexes that exist in various states of exaltation. Much like the monochrome superimpositions of Jean Epstein:
A contemporary figure with whom they share their obsession with the use of scattered, intense light energies in their depiction of desire and rapture is Philippe Grandrieux (with whom the brothers worked to create the soundtrack to La Vie nouvelle), who takes these devices of plasticity to vaguely narrative territories:
Superimposition does not affect image only: within the image-sound connection, it finds a new element. Sound is not used as a dimension independent from or simply parallel to image: it offers a new surface that is superimposed on the pictures, another state, a sonorous state, of transparency. Several dimensions focus in the creation of sound: music, since first and foremost the Hurtado brothers are musicians, the processing of nature's tones (rustling, birds' singing, wasps' buzzing...) and poetry. Thus sound allows the tactility and plasticity of image to be extended: for instance, at the beginning of Bleu, the emergence of the word "soleil", that takes shape through the alternate reading of the repetition of "sol" and of the redtation of its letters (s ;o ;l ; etc), indicates that sound is worth its while at least as much through its rhythms and its plastic values as through the meaning it bears (which is conveyed by the very high sound volume of the films and the work on the strength of murmur, extending the work on sound as a material and sensation). As a result, even when there is only one picture (which is rarely the case in ETANT DONNÉS' films), the connection between image and sound helps indicate that there is already, here, a superimposition, both acoustic and visual.So, the act of viewing Etant Donnés' films possibly equates with drifting through states of rapture, usually while trapped inside an (onscreen) body that is engulfed by the elements, consumed by light, while being ascended to the heavens (all through the magic of the superimposition). With these immersions into their imagery, the desire to feel constantly (re)emerges in the spectator, and, in their shifting, all-inclusive soundscapes, where their poetry rests first within screams and then whispers, one discovers a transformation of terror into pure sensation, pure love even.
(With thanks to Fergus Daly.)