“Filmmaker Oliver Hockenhull’s shockingly beautiful digital video essay on the philosophy of architecture.”

Mari Sasano

INESCAPABLE  —    Corrosively Cinematic

lookingThe film is to be composed solely of a person, sometimes two or more people surreptitiously and not so surreptitiously, tailing, following and chasing another person, plus the rare and only occasional murder {however the ‘murders” are solely & purely theatrical and insanely vigours as in the preposterous murder scene in “Torn Curtain” (1966, Hitchcock)}.

Boundlessly minimalist, pervasively, intricately, illuminated by a voyeuristic camera, with multiple characters yet without dialogue, the piece is to be monosyllabic & corrosively cinematic. The overlaying of a symbolic map and concentric labyrinth of the mind, regions of neurosis and enlightenment — following, being followed, evading, trailing, almost confronting, eluding, escaping, contemplating a moment, existential moments — the observation of objects and nature — but the human chase— inescapable & persistently Beckettian is the repeated juncture of engagement.

Some shots for compositing in green screen, mostly in the city, all shots an emulation of the threatening Hitchcockian framing intent — 70% of the shots will be of the same people surreptiously following each other, looking over the shoulder to see if someone is following them, spying on the other person, chasing them, trying to catch them, trying to allude them. Mainly “serious”, on the odd occasion, absurdist, but generally— serious, the style of the mise-en-scene will be duplicates and interpretations of the Hitchcockian imaginary. Essentially symbolic, metaphorical, iconic, mythopoetic, 20% of the shots are to be contemplative POV shots of the chaser or the chase —when not active in the drama of the chase — observing inanimate objects or nature. 10% of the shots: engagement between the prey and the predator.

The intent is to contend with the psychology and cinematic heritage of the chase motif — which can be considered the essential element of the cinematic imagination: the audience itself is chasing the film through the projection, necessarily voyeuristically engaged and out to trap — the self satisfaction of a story received and moments murdered in each blink of the eyes.

The premise of the film is straightforward and the production itself will be imminently manageable. Emphasis will be given to the montage of the work and I’ll be devoting development time on storyboarding the entire piece. The storyboard will be created using stills and animation techniques and the centrality of the storyboard will be an approach new to my production repertoire and reflecting the importance that Hitchcock himself gave to the pre-production step.

The term montage should not be translated as editing, or cutting but as assemblage: as in the fitting together of parts in a machine — that is a truer translation. Here the machine is the film complete as its own meaning. An intriguing additional reference is that montage signifies — the setting of a jewel. Montage is certainly much more than spatiotemporal continuity editing, much more than simply, say, cut on action…or the getting rid of the bits that don’t work. What interest me here are the expressive possibilities of montage, it’s ability to reclaim the consciousness of dream rather than its function as spatiotemporal connectivity. The expressive possibility also entails the sense of the film as a shape in time. Each phase of pre production, production and post-production will be guided by this concept of montage.

Hand Made Electricity


Time: 7 minutes 24 Seconds Year: 2014
Image: Oliver Hockenhull
Sampled: Norman McLaren
Music: Lisa Walker

Graphical sound & visual music painting in action, hand painting on film sampled, metamorphic pastels and the projection of the netted dynamic blue dot of the causaul field. Finding no time in time. A singularity expressed, drummed out like a message for you and you and.

A Meditation on the Visual and Political Culture of Iran

trance essay » speculative docu-travelogue

Cornell Environmental Film Festival

University of Toronto

DC Environmental Film Society

Pleasure Dome, Toronto

University of Florida | Harn Museum of Art

Embassy of Canada, Washington, D.C.

Ithaca University | Environmental Studies

Through the Looking Glass | Online

Melbourne International Film Festival

Vancouver International Film Festival (Competition)

International Biennale Film & Architecture,
Graz, Austria (Competition)

International Festival of Films on Art, Montréal (Competition)

European Media Arts Festival, Germany

Architectuur FilmFestival Rotterdam as part of the Netherlands Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

Kerala International Film Festival, India

African Architecture Film Festival; Screenings in Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. 2008/2009

Oliver Hockenhull's voluptuous, textural, and thematically (and experientially) dense essay film is an intricately constructed, stream-of-consciousness meditation on architecture, memory, immortality, and transcendence.

Evoking the sprawling, trans-continental journals of the faceless, globe-trotting (metaphoric) time traveler and ethnographic filmmaker Sandor Krasna in Chris Marker's Sans soleil, Building Heaven, Remembering Earth: Confessions of a Fallen Architect is similarly infused with a certain wide-eyed curiosity and sense of adventure, thoughtfulness, and self-effacing humor.

From the film's introductory anecdote on the first book of architecture, a ten-volume documentation of buildings, machines, and timepieces, Hockenhull presents an implicit interconnection between architecture and time, both serving as materialized representations of projection, shadows, and geometric space. The analogy is subsequently developed in the filmmaker's exposition on the Pantheon in Rome as he reflects on the ancient structure's innate symmetry through negative projection for which the apparent structural complement - and therefore, its spatial negation - occurs at an intersection on an imaginary axis that is defined by infinity. The realization of imaginary intersections and approaching theoretical limits similarly provides the underlying concept for the Aquatic Pavilion in Neeltje Jans, Holland, an example of media architecture in which undulating, nodal mesh forms characterize the functional construct of the numerical data: the ideal form generated by a human-less, synthetic vision of empirical limits and discrete interpolations.

Hockenhull further correlates the process of architectural construction as an innately human quest for immortality - a mortal bridge to the divine (note the thematic correlation to György's underlying futile search for the harmonies of the gods in Béla Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies) - a rapture. It is this ephemeral state of artificially induced transcendence that is thematically threaded to the juxtaposition of images between a heroin addict and the somber, forbidden architecture of New Metropolis, an asymmetric and aesthetically nondescript behemoth commercial space projecting ominously from the industrial landscape of an Amsterdam harbor town, both representing a depersonalization of the individual: the erasure of the human element (which, in turn, expounds on the idea of architecture as a means of achieving closeness to gods).

In correlating the confluence of structure and time, Hockenhull characterizes architecture as commemorations of history. From a statue immortalizing the commander of the Dresden raid (a personally traumatic episode for Hockenhull's father that the filmmaker revisits in the short film Mother, Father, Son) to an examination of the works of artist and architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Hockenhull illustrates the inevitable bifurcation between the conceptually ideal - the "glowing painting of a reconciled world" - and the ravaged artifacts of human history (most notably, in the bullet-ridden pillars of the New Watch Building and the variegated rubble used to line the perimeter of a summer house in postwar, suburban Berlin). It is this corruption and decay of the ideal that is encapsulated in the utilitarian history of the Prince Albrecht Palais, a stately residence later transformed as a headquarters for intelligence gathering and dissemination of propaganda by the Nazis.

Traveling eastward to Asia, Hockenhull then forgoes the inherent politicization of 20th century European history and returns to the more abstract theme of transcendence through architecture, remarking after a Sergei Eisenstein retrospective in Istanbul of the role of cinema as "time and aspiration of memory", and further concluding that architecture and memory are integrally correlated by the nature of their "pure constructions".

This idea of continuity through memory and architecture - the intertwining of the mortal and the immortal, life and death - is perhaps best represented in the Indian city of Kashi, known as the city of light - a cremation grounds where nature and structures represent, not only ancient relics of the past, but also a continuity and an afterlife.

In essence, the architecture serves as a place of ceremony and ritual: the human imperative to define the amorphous nature of God and consequently, find a path to transcendence. It is this complex interconnection of functionality and meaning that is inevitably embodied by the egg-shaped stone that punctuates the film, an eternal, indefinable object that curiously encapsulates the genesis, mortality, human imprint, and metaphysical enigma of a greater, and unfathomably more complex, immortal design.

Film Ref | Acquarello

"Electronic man has to train his perceptions in a relation to a total environment that includes all previous cultures — simultaneously" 
Marshal McLuhan

The work is very much about the reinvention of ourselves.  And certainly about the digital identity.   The content and formal aspects of the work could not have been achieved with out both technological achievements in digital technology in the past couple of years and the conceptualizations of the virtual body, the virtual world - the bounding together of  distances and spaces, of culture and nature — a vehicle of  transformative possibilities — a complex of references that speaks to the necessity of remembrance of the traditions of the past — and how we may honour the past only by a profound investigation of our present world. 

This 'new' questioning of identity, based on developments in technology that is being raised by the so many contemporary writers is not, of course something new. Pascal and Leibnitz speculated on much the same issues, and even earlier writers and philosophers blew apart the belief in the determining ego as the basis of 'identity'.  

The current belief in a continuing self or ego that is being challenged by the morphic  quality of the binary code is only a blip on the screen anyway in reference to the  history of this question...the question once again as to Who is the Self.

 Reflecting on identity as being ephemeral, linked to desire, and situated finally in nature (the nature of the human as a being driven by a future perfect - the technological utopia- and by the fullness of nature outside of individual identity)- there are tropes (such as the 'blatant' digital dissolving in the catacombs of Rome section and the manipulation of the Tower of Babel picture) which are visual clues as to this referencing of  the 'digital identity' - the identity of uncertainty, non-human, maybe immortal, anonymous.

The subject of architecture is the subject of the human built environment as it relates to human based problems, needs and desires.  These problems are ever new and greater, and these desires are continual reminders of human ingenuity and achievements. 

Through an understanding and appreciation of the cultural codes inherent within the built environment - and importantly- through a cross cultural and comprehensive historical approach we may come to understand ourselves and the completeness of our needs as they relate to our humanity, our human frailty, our spirituality, and the collectivity of our future.

My work tends to combine the political, the poetic and a critical analysis originating from a thorough immersion into the subject at hand.  I also like to play off of a narrative stream.   The tone of this work, its voice speaks from the position of individual mortality and social generation. 

The piece is pervaded by a sense of immediacy and question that engages the audience through the links of historical understanding, human initiative, and  human urgencies.

The intent of this art/essay is to provide emotional, conceptual, and resource tools for imaging a livable tomorrow based on a cross cultural historical and contemporary reading of architectural language.  The work reflects on the sense of unity as it is found in the built environment.  It is concerned about our intellectual and spiritual aspirations as they are bound to the confines of our naked needs in this particular time.

The work is also future focused, concerned with the quest for sustainability, and in referencing the ecological to allow for a deep study of the cultural impact of architecture in how it is we live.
A launch pad about the space of tomorrow and the prisons of yesterday.  An immersion on the history/future of architectural meaning inclusive of movies, stories, photos and worlds.
post-modern society: a secular form of eternal life -
Industrial society has been 'Building Heaven' since the Crystal Palace of London's Great Exposition of 1851. This modern trend reflects a long held human ambition - the construction of an earthly Heaven, - an architecture of Utopian proportions. From Olympia's Temple of Zeus, to the pronouncements of the Russian Constructivists,, to the skyscrapers of Chicago, much of architectural history is driven by a demiurge to bring the perfection of the sky and the geometry of the eternal, to the mortal earth.
— an architectural journey, weaving history, theory, and story to arrive at the reveries of evolution —

“Building Heaven,Remembering Earth: Confessions of a Fallen Architect” is unequivocally the best documentary work to be produced in Canada in 1999.”

Peter Wintonick