El auge del humano 3
Lendl Barcelos
May 31, 2024


Last night I dreamed the world condensed into a single plane; we had already spoken of the exploded sun; I prepared my memories when I was alone; a shameless multi-billionaire was never something to aspire to be; conflicts had eased between a river and the sea; and there was no secret meaning that needed to be uncovered. The dream continued to shift focus, to move onto other tropes, without any necessity of causal connexion. It was unlike anything on offer by those rigid reality checks circumscribing the possible modalities of everyday life. This was an ancient science masquerading as myth where audiovisions flitted between scenes already seen, but were variously returned to through alternative reincarnations.

The intuitive and paradoxical ambience that saturates Eduardo Williams' The Human Surge 3 asks for a polyphonic language. Its psychedelic adjacencies of people, languages, and locales (Argentina, Portugal, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Brazil, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Peru) shape a unique sensation that accumulates some kind of sense throughout its 121-minute duration. A multinaturalism inhabits each image: a weird realism that begins to blur with the fantastic; but also, a surrealism that results from zooming in on (or out of) the varied details lying in the expansiveness of everyday life.

Williams never suggests that we leap out of the oneiric universe he manages to create: there is no need to search for clues or piece things together. The film is in a dream (il)logic through and through—and not one that is lucidly controlled. A lucid dream smuggles certain dynamics of waking life into the unrestrained possibility of dream spacetime: an individuated control regulating attention that delimits and enacts what is to come. To dream without lucidity—what we could name 'ludic dreaming,' following the suggestion of the technosonic theory collective The Occulture—is to let reign the strategy of impossibilities and banalities that the unconscious conjures. Everything from the most far-out physics-defying egoless experiences to the most banal identical-to-life episodes is fair game for the nonlucid dreamer. The mind is left to wander, bearing witness to wherever and whenever it might lead.

It is this feel that Williams conjures in his film. The camera follows an almost continuous drift, never really deciding to centre on the people of the film. The effect actually stems from a technique he began to explore for the short film he made in collaboration with Mariano Blatt, Parsi (2019), which uses a 360-degree camera to create footage that is then edited to the 2D screen using a VR headset. As Williams describes in an interview for Metrograph about the film, "what you see as a frame is me moving while I rewatch the footage." The bizarre yet compelling sense of embodied audiovision that we witness throughout The Human Surge 3 is quite literally what it is to see from Williams' perspective, to be transported from our here and now into his elsewhere and otherwise, to be whisked away by his specific flavour of paying attention. At some point, it even seems that part of the lens becomes distorted, but the resulting glitches (which return with some frequency) are left as visual artifacts that kink the visual register.

The polyglot dialogue of the film is similarly disjointed. It appears as a partly scripted stream-of-unconscious, at times serving as a pivot point around which the visuals of the scene can meander. While floating through a forest, we overhear one of the characters mentioning their decision to study gases, in order to reach their goal of transparency, of disappearing completely. We catch an exchange about the fabled volcanic explosion, Krakatoa, one of the loudest and most violent eruptions in recorded history. A few minutes later, we follow two other characters swimming together, conversing about their desires. While one dreams of becoming a musician, the other simply (yet surprisingly) wants to specialize in seeing and hearing.

The persistent narrative twists of the film give it an aura of documentary magical realism. We are constantly in doubt whether what we are witnessing is a chance occurrence happened upon during the filming or something that has been plotted out by Williams. But the experience of witnessing the film is so vivid that it doesn't matter which is true. Watching Eduardo Williams' The Human Surge 3 is like turning an eyear to something not easily predictable nor interpretable but that remains enticing, versatile, and on the move—something constantly challenging the eyear's own variable thresholds of observation.

Lendl Barcelos
Lendl Barcelos is a sound artist, “kataphysician” and DJ, interested in exploring the vibrating matters, often of the aural dimension, even when these occur beyond normative human limits. Alongside Tarek Atoui, Allison O'Daniel, Myriam Lefkowitz & Valentina Desideri, he was part of the Council's Infinite Ear project, based on the premise that deafness constitutes a specialisation in sound. His work has been presented at Biennale Architettura XVIII (Venice), Centrocentro (Madrid), Garage (Moscow), Inkonskt (Malmo), Q-O₂ (Brussels), Pedreira (Porto), and has been published by Urbanomic, re:press, MIT and Norient.

Batalha Centro de Cinema

Praça da Batalha, 47
4000-101 Porto


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