CASCADES DE SORRA
By Virgili Jubero
Something inexplicable happens when the grainy flicker of Super 8 film is joined by electronic music. It’s not exactly nostalgia, though the past’s wistful pull is certainly part of it. Neither is it simply the iconic past made new again, as when former fashions and other material things are resurrected. No. It’s as if Super 8 and synthesizers were made for each other, the way ink was made to unleash paper’s latent power, with one enhancing the other until they surpass their own medium to transform into something else.
With the new short film, Cascades de Sorra, Barcelona-based filmmaker and photographer Virgili Jubero seems to understand this intuitively. In his post-apocalyptic tone poem, Super 8 grain and electronic sound textures bleed into one another in a hazy, beautiful feedback loop. In the film, Jubero’s interest is not in humanity’s material objects, but ones created by nature: volcanic rocks, amorphous stones, shoreline sand, a cave, and bodies of water. Nature’s sublime artifacts. What Jubero does is reconfigure these topographical features and objects into abstractions of color, texture and movement.
Shot on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, Jubero’s lens captures raw nature, zooming in from wide shots of mountains to closeups of the island’s desert topography and objects. But this post-apocalyptic landscape has one glaring absence: the typical science fiction trope of humanity devolving into violent primitive culture. Instead of Mad Max action, Jubero offers up moments of near-microscopic focus, poetically examining Lanzarote’s rocks or even things like oscillating light in puddles.
In some sense, Jubero’s cinematic eye and the electronic score (a song from his first album) conjure a primordial Earth instead of a post-apocalyptic one. Jubero tells DREAM that he set off for Lanzarote with his Super 8 camera because he wanted to make a film with the raw elements of nature and zero traces of civilization.
“Some years ago I shot a music video on Lanzarote and I thought that the place was like nothing I had ever seen before,” he recalls. “It’s beautiful, strange and sad all at the same time: the volcanic eruptions buried the landscape, so the island seems like some strange planet. My favorite place is Jameos del Agua, a natural lake in a cave that looks like an astral door and is home to a species of blind crab that are only found on Lanzarote.”
Interestingly, Jubero also found inspiration in artist and experimental filmmaker Jordan Belson’s 1961 film Allures, a short full of abstract shapes, colours, patterns and proto-electronic music. While Belson’s indulgence of what were at the time new audio and video technologies might seem a far cry from Jubero’s experimental nature film, Allure’s textures made a big impact on Jubero’s approach to Cascades de Sorra.
“I was more interested in creating textures than going for a really narrative-driven piece, so the way that Benson used colour, forms and music was a good inspiration for me,” says Jubero. “Then I thought about the zoom of the camera as a hypnotic trip that can bring you from a general picture to a very detailed shot, unexpectedly finding the stars and the universe in the reflection of sand, water and stones.”
The frames of Cascades de Sorra also have their origins in a holiday Jubero spent in the south of Spain. While visiting a large black sand beach, he noticed that the tiny wet stones were reflecting the sun. Transfixed, Jubero took a bunch of photographs. When he finally developed the photos, Jubero realized the film stock had expired, giving the images of stones a lot of grain and inaccurate colours, making the rocks resemble the billions of galaxies inside our universe.
This unintended effect, along with a desire to create something timeless, motivated Jubero to shoot Cascades de Sorra with Super 8. He felt that using this classic film stock would allow him to better tap into the sentimental or nostalgic vibe he wanted to create with the post-apocalyptic imagery.
But while the film feels nostalgic, Jubero believes it is also somehow optimistic, as no tragic events unfold in the frames. Ultimately, he was more interested in creating a dreamy cinematic atmosphere on the strange topography of Lanzarote.
“Cascades de Sorra is a visual poem about the solitude in the journey of life through nature and the primary elements,” Jubero notes. “A zoom in that brings you from the rising sun to the unknown.”
Interview by DJ Pangburn