Rainer Kohlberger’s latest film, It has to be lived once and dreamed twice, is a kind of science fiction. Though it continues to develop a number of his longtime preoccupations—particularly with algorithmically generated art, and with visuals that strain the limits of our perception—the film has an unprecedented dramatic cohesion that makes it his most satisfying work to date. Visually, it is almost wholly comprised of waves of visual noise. Over this, a female narrator offers a winding, philosophical monologue for the film’s half-hour duration. I’m guessing these images were generated by machine learning reconstruction of clips from classic films, mixed perhaps with footage that’s been worked over with some good old-fashioned After Effects. Sometimes, relatively stable patches of color emerge out of the visual cacophony, suggesting a natural or artificial landscape. Other times, the shapes seem to writhe across the screen like elongated amoeba. Occasionally, they even coalesce into identifiable human forms—barely discernible, and only for a moment—before they are obliterated once more by tides of pulsating, striated noise.
Johann Lurf’s ★ has a straightforward but ambitious premise: take excerpts from films that feature a starlit sky and stitch them together chronologically. Unlike Christian Marclay’s The Clock, Lurf doesn't allow for any sort of figure-ground relationship to develop between sky and non-sky; our eyes stay glued to the cosmos. As such, no quasi-narrative develops as we jump from one clip to the next. Instead, the images provide an observation on the technological advancements that have occurred throughout the past century of film. What becomes increasingly clear as the film goes on is that despite these changes, the stars have remained a constant source of inspiration for both filmmakers and their characters.