Aerial Stills

(1988, 4:30', SD, stereo)


This video begins in total darkness. Suddenly, a blinding flash simulates real light, bathing the spectators in a pale blue, ephemeral light. On the screen, we barely had time to make out the silhouette of the skyscrapers of an American town, but this image is more a reconstruction from memory than a real vision because the flash was so short-lived. The system is gradually constructed and we realize that the film functions on the idea of a fleeting vision; repeated pictures of the silhouettes of men flying, overlaid onto all sorts of landscapes, emphasize the dreamlike logic omnipresent in this film, who hasn't dreamed of flying? Thus the entire film works on the boundary between perception, memory and invention; like in memories of dreams, we build up an image from memories and perception, without being able to differentiate between them. Planes crossing urban skies, industrial architecture, the bust of a man seated in front of his window, a succession of visions like a series of micro-fiction films. Montage is tight but fluid, the manipulation of video images, their extremely specific texture accentuated once again by Alexander Hahn - to whom this material quality of pixel images is a constant - are the deliberately weakened vehicles of a visual and intellectual experience offered to the spectator. This is also one of the rare films where Hahn does not make use of narrative; no off-screen voice, no story. The period of blackness between flashes are the times of latency, of fertile expectancy, which transform the brief illuminations into moments of "temporal ecstasy (´).Aerial Stills, the content of which exists primarily only in the neurophysiology of the human brain, is a monument in memory of memory." (Robert Fischer, in Alexander Hahn, Electronic Media, Cahier d'artiste Pro-Helvetia, Zurich, Switzerland, 1989).

(Lysianne Léchaut-Hirt, in New Media Encyclopedia)