Video Sundays: Short Films by Raya Martin

Recommended viewing: A trio of by impressionist short films by Raya Martin.
Kelley Dong
The prodigious and prolific Raya Martin (Now Showing, Next Attraction, Independencia) is an artist whose works seem to infinitely expand into new levels of breadth and depth. Writer Adrian Mendizabal has provided an immense overview of Martin's "baffling oeuvre and innovative style" as displayed in his feature-length films, particularly his deconstructivist approach to postcolonial realities in the Philippines. But his short films, a number of which I've compiled here, are not to be overlooked. The trio included here can be seen as loosely strung together as a trilogy of impressionist journeys pushed by tides of change.
The 2007 short film Track Projections is constructed upon a central movement in which the camera-holder opens and closes the aperture, letting sunlight flow in and out of the lens like an eye that blinks. When the eye is opened once more, we are on a moving train that runs through daytime until it becomes sunset, freeway to forest, then back to the city.
Commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2011, where it screened before all films supported by the festival's Hubert Bals Fund, Ars Colonia is a brief but astounding spurt of colors superimposed upon footage of a boat approaching—or circling, or passing—a set of islands that melt into fireworks.
Martin's 2013 Scotch Pilgrim is the filmmaker's response to an image from Carlos Reygada's Battle of Heaven, depicting a shadowed streetscapes saturated and pixellated. The blurred excursion at times recalls the animated cutout silhouettes of Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), offering only the imprints of the presence of people.


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