A meditation on (im)mortality, mediated by a lifetime of images.
"A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face." - J.L. Borges
“In the documentary film What these ashes wanted Hoffman arranges the jagged bits of life he shared with writer Marian McMahon. Her early death in 1996 provoked this essay on mortality. Hoffman’s goal: “to illuminate the conditions of her death… the mystery of her life and the reason why, at the instant of her passage, I felt peace with her leaving… a feeling I no longer hold.” Using painterly swatches of sunflowers, hand-processed film, found sound recordings, the “antiseptic fictions” of doctors and other mortal icons, Hoffman takes us on journeys to London, Helsinki and Egypt. Pondering morbidity in its many forms, Hoffman discloses an early photographic assignment involving his deceased grand-father, a failed suicide, and his own personal numerology of death centering on the number seventeen. Through these and other memories, he develops a soul-searching vocabulary of love for one whose journey continues into the beyond. ‘If you had to make up your own ritual for death, what would it be? Would it be private or shared?’ asked his partner, Marian. Hoffman’s answer is this beautiful document. (San Francisco International Festival Catalogue, 2002)
This film was made with series of images, over 4000, all them integrate a photographic recording that I have been carrying out for the past three years. Without any initial purpose that would circumscribe all these images, this photo diary drifts and accompanies many different circumstances, trips, places and people.
The editing of the film shown here does not resort to any major tricks: no image cutting was carried out - the photos are all here, in chronological sequence - frame speed was manipulated in a 35mm editing table where the mechanic and physical gesture can create a suspension of frame in time, interspersed with other moments in which the progression of the film takes on a syncopate rhythm.
|Excerpt from the DVD "Expanded Celluloid, Extended Phonograph" (Balloon and Needle, 2008)
by Lee Hangjun (Experimental Filmmaker) and Hong Chulki (Noise Improviser) from South Korea