“Quicksilver’s Wings”– Project IV Artist Statement
“Quicksilver’s Wings” is a found footage montage which explores the relationship between the real and the experimental image. A crucial aspect of the film is the constructed soundscape: the sounds of reality are lost in the layers of industrial noise, the metaphorization of labor and hard work, various bodies of water, and the provocation of sonic and ambient elements, which come to life and re-purpose the moving image. The hinting of spiritual chimes and centralization on the motif of the circle (and the kaleidoscopic effects) spiritually reference the core of fishing as a collaborative human activity of both gathering and strength. Additionally, the kaleidoscope also represents a filtered, collectivist vision, in the way that the fishing experience becomes pluralized because it is so culturally innate for Bangladeshis. The electronic imagery superimposes the real, as faces, bodies, and torsos become biomorphic, and blend into the resonance of the signals: in this way, the imagery becomes the ripples of the water. Eventually, the fishes caught are opaquely blended into the contained bati, or pot, the ultimate vessel which will contain the once “flying” fish. Additionally, the climax of the soundscape becomes consumed by the bass of the heartbeat, which sensitizes not only the tension, excitement, and emotional experience of fishing, but also represents the heartbeats of the lives lost.
The film is an experimental short, particularly in the genre of sensory ethnography. Sensory ethnography is an avant-garde visual approach in media anthropology in which the filmmaker may stray away from realism and constantly take aesthetic risks– perhaps using the received image as a post-canvas in documenting some sort of human activity, as is the case in this situation.
Seventy-five percent of the land in Bangladesh is comprised by water, thanks to the Bay of Bengal. By conveying a casual fishing session in a village, I aspire to allude to the larger fishing industry in Bangladesh on behalf of the privatized level: fishing as a source of economy within extended families.
As captured in the film, fishing is indeed patriarchal. More importantly, fishing in Bangladesh is also an ubiquitous tradition— it is culturally ancient, constantly referenced in Bengali poetry, music, and literature, almost fethishistic, and simply, a ritualized value of life there. In fact, fishing itself is so highly esteemed, that often times communities will bring the “church to the water” before a session– imams, equivalent to priests, will often say a religious chant at the climax of noodling– catching raw fish by the hand (for the most intimate experience, and for helping the potential fishermen capitalize on a “healthy” supply of both blessings and luck). As the saying goes in Orissa: Machha khaaiba Ilishii, chakiri kariba polisi, meaning, eating Ilishi, the national fish of Bangladesh, and getting a job in the Police department (an esteemed career) are essentially, of equal status.