clairosphere | aurascience | on Salome and Svitlo’s experimental film, MWI, and the Soul

They say that filmmakers are harbingers of death. It was the same for photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Especially those early, innocuous portrait photographers; the unwitting shot of the Camera that slices the subject out of life and immortalizes them forever frozen in paper. Susan Sontag calls photographs a “memorialization”1 and she’s right. But images are not like movies because movies are not objects; film is alive.

clairosphere, aurascience

Film on the Internet is like a mirror under water. Refracting and bending captured life, moving it twofold and reflecting it throughout the entire liquid body. It’s a strange and beautiful place to be in, to observe.

Salome and Svitlo are filmmakers in Ukraine who share their work Online in an era of chaos, war, and glimmering hope. Cross-space-war-infinite-time through the yellowed fields where the blades of grass stick to your ankles, on static-lined screens documenting the motion of life– Salome and Svitlo are two filmmakers making art during the war. A year ago, before they had to move from their village, they were volunteering, delivering water to civilian villages that have been destroyed by the Russian army. While another group still does this without them, they find new ways to help. Psychologically, the war’s toll runs as deep as the fresh cracks in the concrete floors and walls, so their new project focuses on finding methods of healing, funding drones, melting heartache, being good, codifying love, on a screen (on every screen). A renaissance of film waits ardently ahead of them as they extend their hand out to those in suffering.

“Our goal is to help people during the war and create art. We want to show our courage and give people hope. Do good things and be ourselves, even if it seems that everything is already lost. Through our activities, we show that art can be free in any circumstances.”

Their work retains a sacred aura, at peace in conflict. Ataraxia visualized. It’s nostalgia and timelessness conjoined. Without time, though moving through it, and in Salome’s words, “returning to the original avant-garde nature and proceeding from the documentary-chronicle-need to capture life” as a flickering, eternal, paradoxical Möbius strip. Equally sentimental and fractal, they articulate their work as an anagogy of quantum physics. The principles of the quantum-world are distinctly unfamiliar, however, the quantiverse is so informative to their work that it is important to explore its complexity. Salome continues,

“[The] Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that presupposes the existence, in a sense, of ‘parallel universes,’ each of which has the same laws of nature and which are characterized by the same world constants, but which are in different states. With each act of measuring a quantum object, the observer, as it were, splits into several (presumably, infinitely many) versions. Each of these versions sees its own measurement result and, acting in accordance with it, forms its own history and version of the universe that precedes the measurement.”

Making film within the nature of quantum mechanics provides space for long-exposured optics to demystify the multiverse that Salome and Svitlo understand. The primary feature of quantum physics and MWI is the reliance on the Wave function. Mathematically, this function is difficult to explain, however, it is essential to Salome and Svitlo’s filmography. The Wave function demands that we note that it is comprised not of absolutism but of probability. The quantiverse places upon everything the notion of potential~ that dichotomies are not mutually exclusive, but coexist as equal possibilities (that is, both are true; but when, where and how are the defining questions that denote any given postulate as “true” or “false”). Everything exists in an infinite web that composes the universe(s).

Classical physics relies on two features; firstly particles, representative of electrons, protons, and neutrons ~~ which we can compare to static photographs. They're elemental, ambient compressions, vibrational but immobile, limited to singularity. Particles and photographs function as fractions of Waves and film, respectively ~~ multiplying into themselves to create something larger, something undulating. Imagine a ripple in water. A particle is when you freeze a moment in time while watching the ripple expand (take a photograph). The particle is a part of the Wave itself, but it’s specified to a singular instant, much the same way a photograph is.

Waves are the second feature. Infra-red, sonic, radio, and so on. We can compare these to captured movement (film). The same ripple when captured in moving time (like on film) is the quantum-Wave. The Wave function is the movement as a whole, not dissected into shards but living through the glimmery vibrations. MWI is based on the isolated tenet that Everything is a Wave. Salome and Svitlo’s film is based on the existence of the Wave as it ripples through the eyes of the Internet ~ eyes infinite and wide, like tinderbox dogs.

Salome and Svitlo have found the sacrosanct pattern this Wave makes. Their cinematic praxis synchronizes the quantum notion of probability and their own articulation of ambiguity. They have found the correlation between the probable and the elusive; by keeping their intent locked secret from their audience, they enable their observers to invent their own narratives; these are exponentially infinite and coexist, forever. Parallel probabilities stream endlessly on an infinite cassette ribbon.

“The hyperbole of form reduces static content to the space of spectator subjectivity, inevitably ‘cleanses,’ and exposes the essence of cinema as a specific— with a complex of forms inherent only in it— art. This is no longer the author's reflection, but the nature of cinema.”

There are many, presumably infinite versions of the film that live in parallel universes simultaneously. This is not only a truth essential to the experience of experimental film, but a method of re-truing film entirely. The universes reside within each observer. There is not one lens truer than the rest, and none can make the others obsolete. There isn’t one True Faith that determines the intention of the film (which is separate from the intention of the cameragirl), however, like the binary of options available to Schrodinger’s cat (dead or alive), they are all equally true in the paradigm of possibility.

Something in the academic-quantum-sphere known as the “diabolical device” refers to the catalyst to the instant of the universe’s split. There exists a singular universe up to the ignition of the diabolical device. At that point, the universe splits. Our diabolical device is Salome and Svitlo’s filmography. The universe separates into multiverses correlating to us, each to our lens.

Unraveling conceptual motifs is beside the point. Whether or not the viewer can ascertain the hidden personal data contained in each segment of film is irrelevant to the sacred experience of the individualized audience. It is important that the ambiguity remains in tact, providing a veil with which beholders connect with the subjectivity of the film and formulate equally subjective interpretations.

Their work is based in this catalyst-ic ethos, like a spark that ignites. To put too lucid a definition on their film would be to rip the petals off the bud; their work is very delicate. The essential object in their film is the viewer, not only to import a deeply personal meaning to the imagery, but to feel the way the film feels, and if the impulse arises, to encapsulate it. Despite having entwined their work with an experimental, alchemic, metaphysical science, the film is far from academic. There is no wrong answer, only the individual witness to their motion picture.

“Because I know my approach is scientifically based and it will possess natural magic, living matter; sooner or later those who have to see me [will], and everything will change”

Many things remain true:

The will to survive is the will to create something.

To create a life that plays out visually, sonically, through projected, digitized, pixels, rendered stereoscopic and real. Salome and Svitlo’s film has real-ized the unbecoming of death thought inherent to the Camera. Not only moving with the fourth dimension but moving past systematics into sympathy, compassion, love, emotion— moving to move viewers individually, as individual as their lens is.

“It is impossible not to create
If this does not happen, everything collapses around me and inside me”

Beauty is inevitable and it holds the hand of innocence.

Being a Lamb comes with unforeseeable responsibility~~ a devotion to conviction, a naïvety to a world based on anguish. Being a Lamb warrants the ability to make a plea, to remove the pretend glass that sits between conflict and look terror in the eye with mercy.

To exist is to breathe, and to move towards the promised land.

“For movement, as for the ontological basis of being, the same indestructibility and eternity are postulated as for being itself. Having appeared with being, it does not stop, and therefore it is impossible to create it again.”, that is -

being is equally ephemeral as it is eternal. The movement does not stop, especially when the force is multiplied throughout and shared between the viewers who peer through the optical lens and become a part of the narrative as a result. There is no repeat, no do-over, no ctrl+z, because there is no pause in the rift. It is eternal as it rolls off the back of the conveyor into oblivion. It is forever when it ends.

War wages in spite of everything else, and in spite of love.

The unstoppable force meets the immovable object. But if anything is to be the Magic Bullet~~ faith, hope, or love, the greatest weapon of these is love. A light-being carrying the torch says a prayer to begin the film: you are not a machine, you are not a machine. God-given human-agency begs us to create, begs us to sow and yield happiness, to wipe away the despair of the world and the hurt of man. You are not a machine. Liberty will never die as man has, and happiness will remain in grasp while the light is marched on.

The Son died and so shall we, but the thought that lingers is this: it is impossible not to be. Divinity points not to the human impulse to shy from the ineffable vulnerability of living, but to run freely into the throes of know-ness~ being known, knowing others, knowing joy and fear as a choose-your-fate adventure.

Experimental film is reminiscent of the alchemic and mystical sciences that predate the 1800’s. Something like Frakensteinian experiments, sans horror (unless it isn’t) that flood the mind with possibilities. Or rather consume it with possibilities. Experimental film is vast and open. And strangely, maybe, it plays out in much the same way. It’s like building a new life outside of yourself, like having the ordained freedom to stitch together parts of the world to inspire a new way of seeing or understanding. Experimental film is a hermetic science in which the micro and macrocosms (humanity and universe, respectively) carousel around each other, and is materialized as a projectable kaleidoscope.

Alchemia and experimental film both play in the True Elements of our world: earth which is rooted in permanence (as permanent as we are), water which is tangible change, air which is essence and purity, and fire which is cleansing, consequential, and illuminating. And they appear as magic to those who cannot understand the mechanics, those who don’t understand the formulas necessary to cause magic.

Alchemy’s original aims were to navigate changing base metals (transmutation) and to find the “Philosopher’s Stone.” The practice of alchemy had ingrained the notion that the mage had to perfect his soul through his alchemy to reveal the stone. It was not strictly scientific, but also philosophical, and spiritual. The same can be said about experimental film practice. The stone may remain a mystery yet.

In some ways, the experimental film that Salome and Svitlo create is like being itself. The body, being the most elemental object of alchemy, is made of constant shifting, movement in different directions that transform from one state of being into the next. Their work is very close to God, and as such, unlike Frankenstein, it becomes an arm of faith, and engraves in itself prayers and odes and hymns (even if silent).

Many magicians take a scientific approach to their practice, and so do Salome and Svitlo. Their work does not solve failures in hypotheses, and it does not transform natural chemistry. But that is not to say that their work doesn’t have a specific cognition, signature to the creator, that makes it formally conducted. In fact, their work proceeds beyond empirics into soul, and into unveiling the Real Philosopher’s Stone— and maybe that’s why their work feels auratically transcendental.

“But I had visions, I felt everything, as if we were twins of love who had been separated we are in Ukraine, the whole family is defending the country, fighting

And we are the keepers of the hearth, we grow vegetables and berries and dreams of helping people get out of the darkness into the light

we live in a small village, I think we are the strangest in this village
But we like it
it's humility and acceptance
Awareness and love for the land

I was in solidarity with all the people In Ukraine, I could not remain indifferent, just live while people die in a horrible, unjust massacre that must stop, children must live in peace

I found great love during the war
And I’m grateful for it
Now we are together

Here we want to change everything
We want to change the world
We are very naïve, but we are like delicate flowers with very strong roots deep in the ground

We have a strong faith
I think it’s a miracle
To love each other so much

Therefore, everything you are observing now, I do with him
Although for me, for my essence, this is something completely new
Because I always demanded complete solitude
And then everything changed”

~ Salome


@salt.salome @clairosphere @m.svitlo


1. Susan Sontag, On Photography
All photographs uncredited are courtesy of Salome and Svitlo.
All illustrations uncredited are courtesy of clairosphere.