I read parts of the script while the video was still in the making, but I didn´t fully comprehend what was going on in the lengthy conversations between the two main characters, Zipper and Zederick, It was so contrived. I knew the video’s directors were huge fans of Michael Snow and especially Andy Warhol. Don´t be fooled into expecting some kind of B-movieSciFi-adventure: the finished piece is an experimental video without comprehensive narrative or, if there was one intended, it got lost in the flow. Zipper and Zederick are played by Chloé Griffin (also one of the directors) and Brandon Rivard, reminding one strongly of long-deceased Factory Stars Eddy Sedgewick and Gerard Malanga. The whole video is presented as a group effort reminiscent of Warhol´s technique, of everybody doing everything and a lot of discussion follows film-in-film, which is perhaps the reason that there is a lot of redundant talky-talky. Everything is in the process of occurring, and people are constantly rambling self-referentially.
So basically, a little UFO arrives,and things start to happen, with much in the way of the 1982 movie Liquid Sky (by Slava Tsukerman). The UFO is always in the lower right corner of the screen, hiding the fact that it’s made flying by a stick, with electric cables dropping underneath it. A lot of different set pieces follow, and they are mostly about…putting up the aforementioned set pieces, and working on some kind of film career. There are funny remarks by the actors (such as “I can do for the film-industry what Def Jam did for music”, or when Wolfgang Sinhart from White Trash Fast Food grabbing a camera and exclaiming ” Can I see that? I´ve made some avantgarde-films myself”.
Soapy parts include some kind of street drama under the Kottbusser Tor station, which is acted quite well. Other scenes (having protagonists sitting on sofas) are almost amateurish, and could be left out. One scene involving two hookers is set at the ultra-clean (and therefore boring) tourist venue Potsdamer Platz, which upgrades the fucking place. The potential of some Berlin acting eccentrics is a little spoiled, as they could have given much better performances if put in the right place, or provided with good lines. At the end of the video, everybody is dancing along to different sounds on an improvised stage, while handpainted credits pop up endlessly.
The spoken dialog is supported by sound collages, or the ultracool band The Vanishing (now defunct), but even German Volksmusik has its place. Oliver Wallace´s 1942 Anti-Nazi Song “The Fuhrer´s Face”, originally used in the eponymous Oscar-winning Donald Duck short animation, is played while Zipper & Zederick are dancing in front of the new Bundeskanzleramt. There is an abundant use of video filters all over the whole project, so as to differentiate between various segments, e.g.: the soap-opera parts demand a crystal-clear video aesthetic; video drama is b/w, like some washed out 16mm print from the 60s run half-assedly through an out-of-focus-projector, concurrent with blurry soft-images, reminiscent of drug-induced dreamscapes.
The piece is not so much about entertaining a target audience, but is instead a postmodern pastiche,including seriality, playfulness, and lack of depth. It contains references to other art-movies, while being a self-promotional piece in a way (like the Warhol films). In the video, Jewish intellectual Walter Benjamin is quoted as an influence, and Speed Madness clearly is a “Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit”.
I would describe it as a constant mise-en-scène, with existential undertones, promoting a tremendous variety of different story ideas and visual styles, from music videos to fragmented narration. A large part of the viewing experience is discovering further layers and humorous asides the more often you see it. In the future I would love to see some full-length feature in the vein of Gregg Araki or an updated Paul Morrissey from the same talents, with stylized video-art sequences popping up, trying to distract you from a carefully outlined story.