An imaginative and powerful multisensory performance, Proximos (Close Quarters), presents a group of dancers who gradually emerge within a limited space in this 13-minute video. Body movements, evocative light installations and original music score are the fundamental elements that explore the idea of dance. The whole action takes place in an empty closed area that is reminiscent of an isolation room. While the industrial environment creates a mystery for the viewer, the action only transpires within this controlling area. The direction characteristically concentrates on the dancers’ movements whose technique seems to be perfectly linked with the music, scored by Giacomo Picasso. A connection between body expressions and music is already perceptible in the first moments of this performance.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
The video kicks off with a close up of one dancer’s face—exploring feelings of agony through intense facial features on screen; alongside the music that evocatively accompanies the action, the shot becomes blurry, and then one more dancer turns up. The opening scene renders an emotional upbeat tempo and welcomes the third dancer, while the light arrangement rejects its dark, hazy effects, making the view become brighter and clearer. As the performance progresses, a harmonic relationship becomes apparent between the 11 dancers and the gradual evolution of the music score. Although the rhythm has a major role in shaping the movements, the dancing composition defines the music tempo in this claustrophobic space.
The multidisciplinary artist Patricio Soto–Aguilar and the choreographer Marco Orellana manage to create a vivid stage dialogue using the dancers’ bodies and the music’s vibration. By having the esoteric music in sync with the dancers, Orellana achieves an energetic dialogue within a small space. A new visual image is constructed through the rhythm imprinted on the dancers’ bodies. Initially, the dancing composition is considered the trigger for the viewer’s engagement with the storytelling; nevertheless, another interpretation arises through the combination of music and movement. The music vibes introduce a deeper approach in the video’s scope while the movements bring up individual qualities inspired by the externalization of the music. Although the camera shots easily drift away to create a strong visual feel, the result reveals a captivating range of image and sound transformations on screen, from body language to music to dance and light. A very precise and digestible meaning might be missing for the viewer. However, there is much more that counts in this visual interplay: an abundance of movement and sound as well as the compound human interactions from an entertainingly choreographed body language.
Taking into account previous videos from this filmography such as Dominio (2016) or Uphills (2019), Aguilar keeps on concentrating on the human body; this is main expressive tool in order to tell a story. Another common element on his filmography which remarkably managed to elaborate on Proximos (Close Quarters) (2019) is the camera manipulation towards the young actors’ bodies. The whole video direction operates as an observational means captivating the bodily movements as well as allowing the viewer to feel more engaged with the story. Unfolding short and simple stories does not mean an undemanding preparation behind the scenes. Proximos video seems to be a more complex and challenging video result which highlights the multidisciplinary artist’s evolution.
How did you come up with the idea for the Proximos video? Can you tell us about the process of making this video work?
Usually it comes as a succession of events, adding up to an image or a feel that I would like to portray on screen. In this case, the choreographer Marco Orellana let me know he wanted to be part of a dance film, having that in mind, one day whilst on the bus during the morning rush hour in Santiago, I was inspired to make a video with a lot of people in a limited space, considering my previous work was about big spaces and few performers. The location was in my mind already as I wanted to do something there for a couple of years, and suddenly all came together. Luckily Marco had a great network of talented friends that jumped in the project at once and we manage to get all of these performers in the project.
How would you define Proximos in three words?
Emotion, Connection, Stimulation.
Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Against what is typical in my field, personally I am not a cinephile, nor a fan of specific directors’ work. Nevertheless, I do find my inspiration in other disciplines, theatre, dance, art and being out there in the street, it can be a graffiti or someone else’s conversation, as it happened in this case, it was a moment out there and all the elements in the surrounding.
If I have to name other artists work I have find inspiring so far I could mention Pina Bausch’s “Rite of Spring” Coreography, with the TanzTeather Wuppertal, Mark Rothko’s Work and Chilean Theatre director Manuela Infante.
Creating a new film or a short clip can’t be a solitary process. What memories or experiences do you keep from a cooperative art project like Proximos?
It is not at all, maybe at the beginning when the projects come to mind, but then it depends of everyone around it not only for it to happen, but also for it to be shaped. From Próximos without a doubt it was the talent of the performers and the choreographer, learning a choreography in two days, and then rehearsing it with additional changes in order for it to work well in camera, showcasing their talent, and the result is greatly because of this. I also keep from this project with was the first one with a lot of people involved, how everyone had the disposition to make this project possible only for the interest of creating, as the budget was very limited, nevertheless everyone gave their 100%.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
I do not have a specific place to work, but usually for conceptualizing, drafting the shots and editing I need to be alone, usually in my place on the dinner table for hours. But at the same in the rehearsing of the projects I am with the camera shooting everything and then revising the rushes to provide feedback over what is working and what is not. Is a constant back and forth and exchange, that is how I think I balance the process, from discussions, rehearsing and trials with people, to silence and focus in front of the editor.
Which film did you watch last?
What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
I never expect something concrete out of the audience, but I do enjoy when they react, feel something or reflect on something, usually they stay with sequences or shots of the films and its great to hear them develop their own take of what happened to them whilst experiencing the films.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning person with a coffee on the hand.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
Half full always, pushing things forward than wondering what ifs.
Which are your plans for the near future?
Próximos is beginning its festival run, being recently selected for the Manchester Internationa Film Festival on its dedicated section for Experimental Film in Manchester UK, hopefully it will be a year full of exhibitions for the short film as the previous films have had.
Currently, I am working on the script of a short film set in an amusement park, and developing a feature documentary inspired by the Chilean theatre play “Vegeative States” on the relationship we currently have with nature, which is in the process of raising funds and interest around the project that usually takes some time.
Besides that I always keep working with artists, theatre makers and performers creating content for them either for specific projects or artistic research.
© All images courtesy of the artist