Filmmaker Hector has produced a deliciously arcane video for secretive new artist, The Hour. Shot as documentary, the video uses footage purporting to have been captured behind the walls of an insular, dystopian community.
Ominous to the point of malevolence, the narrative unfolds detailing the esoteric rule of law under which the town’s citizens live, and interact. Crime and punishment take centre stage complete with the befitting motif of a rope, or “Maus tail”, foreshadowing all sorts of existential questions.
A Chris Marker-esque aesthetic is evoked throughout, enveloped in darkness, doom and shrouded by blindfolds. The footage captured is overlaid with narrative subtitles, contextualising the unfolding narrative, detailing the aberrant “Katze Maus” law and its philosophical place in the seemingly nebulous and secretive realm of the town, “somewhere close to 62˚25’47.0”S 339˚12’14."E.”
Unlike Marker’s La Jetée, Hector’s Answer is shot in motion, deftly drifting through a series of long takes as the beat and bluesy guitars of the song march to a falsetto crescendo.
Though shot in HD digital standard 1.77:1 aspect, the filmmaker has made the conscious decision to present in an aspect more akin to analogue film or video, 4:3. This framing crops to picture, evoking a sense of claustrophobia. The colour scheme, muted in its drab hues of grey, brown and green powerfully drives the oppressively totalitarian aesthetic home.
We were lucky enough to get in contact with the decisively cryptic documentarian, and here he illuminates more details about his experience in the town and creating The Hour’s Answer.
What influenced your choice of documentation in terms of aesthetically representing the culture?
I felt it was important to keep a fly on the wall approach to the piece, to keep a distance – they’re a very insular tribe, so even getting as close as we did was a challenge.
How much of the town did you see beyond the designated roaming area, what can you describe?
You’re blindfolded the whole time until you reach the roaming area. Even time is difficult to comprehend when you’re inside — it’s got that same feeling a casino has — one person carried a stopwatch that I presumed was a countdown for the offender to escape punishment.
Described your use of colour, and the way that has been captured and presented in the video.
I used a muted tone to hold the raw aesthetic. I wanted to keep it as natural as possible so not to distract from the setting and also to represent the tone of the music.
Describe your editing decisions in terms of presenting the piece as a narrative snapshot.
Using long takes and an almost uncomfortable length felt the braver decision for me – it’s a fine line between engagement and boredom sometimes, but I hope this video pulls off the former. Being such an obscure narrative I felt longer takes gave the viewer the chance to digest the story. I don’t usually shoot in 50fps but for this I felt it was important to give the video space to move and flow so it felt natural to do so.
What is the symbolism of the blindfolds?
To me the blindfolds signify equality. I think we’ve entered an age where people are judged on looks and numbers on the board rather than what’s at the core. The blindfolds take away the competition and insecurities posed in today’s society — it feels as though they’ve managed to create a continuous poker face.
What does Law 17 mean to the people, and what is your understanding as to why “Katze Maus” was sanctioned?
You don’t get to speak to anyone once you’re inside so its difficult to tell — its obviously something they abide by. It feels to me like all the decisions they make are unanimous.
Were you privy to the nature of offender 40018-K’s crimes, were the exact details a deliberate omission?
As I said, they only tell you what they want you to know, I think the unknown is supposed to keep us all guessing.
What conscious decisions were made when editing the footage to marry it to the soundtrack?
I was given the soundtrack by a member of The Hour – for them, this piece is about being heard as well as being seen – it’s about opening the crack in the door wider and letting the outside look in.
Will you be invited back as filmmaker and documentarian in the future?
I hope so! I’d like to go deeper into their world, having said that the only thing I heard anyone say was that they were having trouble finding their phone charger…
The Hour itself remains an enigma with their identity shrouded in resolute mystery. ‘Answer’ was preceded only by one other ominously nihilistic song and video, ‘No One’s Going To Heaven’ earlier this year.
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