Downside Up


Downside Up (1984)

For a long time I didn’t know which came first, Downside Up, a 16-minute short by experimental filmmaker Tony Hill, or Sensoria, the Cabaret Voltaire music video directed by Peter Care. Both were made in 1984 and both employ the same technique of a camera fixed to a special rig that allows shots to begin at ground level, rise parabolically into the air then descend to the ground again showing a reverse angle. Thanks to this Quietus interview with Peter Care last year we now know that Tony Hill’s film came first and that Care borrowed the rig for his video. Both are memorable pieces of work. Hill starts out with a series of slow shots accompanied by sounds that imply the camera is passing through the earth. This is contradicted later (and with gathering speed) when some of the shots are rotated through ninety degrees so they materialise out of building walls. Care stripped the technique down using faster shots that he cut with stop-motion footage of Richard Kirk and Stephen Mallinder. It’s the best of the promo videos made for the group.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire

4 thoughts on “Downside Up”

  1. Aww, this is so well made. The planar and axial rotations from one shot to the next make it so disorienting and interesting in an Escher sort of way. Did you see Jurgis Baltrušaitis’s “Anamorphoses” on the table at 13:57? Also, is that Robert Fripp’s guitar we hear near the end?

    The ‘superhuman’ viewpoint on a picnic reminded me of Powers of Ten. I also got a hit of Enter the Void, except this one is much cooler in my book ;-)

  2. Yes, I noticed the anamorphosis book but wouldn’t have known enough to ID the artist. The music at the end is a section of The Heavenly Music Corporation from Fripp & Eno’s (No Pussyfooting).

    This makes me think of Powers of Ten as well (the subject of an earlier post, as it happens). Both films show how a more formal use of cinema can upset our familiar view of the world to a greater extent than any number of dramas. It’s one of the real values of experimental film.

  3. Did you see Jurgis Baltrušaitis’s “Anamorphoses” on the table

    Is that the same as his “Depraved Perspectives”? That book was practically written for Feuilleton.

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