As the International Festival train rolls slowly out of Glasgow, you'd be forgiven for thinking that as long as you got along to The Modern Institute, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeremy Deller's bouncy Stonehenge and CCA for two nights in a row you'd 'done Glasgow'. You'd be wrong. Residing in a 'sleazier, darker, grimier' part of town are 85a Collective presenting their visceral, pumping, sensorial cinematic experience 'Chernozem: KINO!' (Russian for 'Black Earth').
The ride launches (literally) through a network of 14 immersive cinema spaces housed in Glasgow's labyrinthine former Glue Factory complete with kinetic sculptures, 'pummelling' soundtracks and loud live action. In the murky depths of the Glasgow fringe we follow the progress of 'Machine' (a man with a factory for a head), the all-seeing Paraphilia and the mighty 'Industrial God'. Offering the perfect antidote to saccharine over-produced performance, cinema and visual art, 85a reconnect body, soul and (depraved) mind.
Dazed Digital: It's certainly experience-heavy, why do you think people are so up for being immersed sensorially and physically rather than just in a story?
85a: For all the great ideas and incredible staging it requires, cinema has become synonymous with ‘switching off’ culture and proper static/armchair experience, but people also love the adventurous element of festivals, extreme sports and fun fairs…
People love to be physically exhilarated, surprised and scared. The funfair is an entire industry built upon these methods. Whereas art, theatre and film are often the opposite: passive cerebral experiences. The combination of these two modes is exciting, full-on and unpredictable. We're giving it all to them at once!
DD: Explain the Industrial God...
85a: The exposition is that for as long as there has been a terrestrial sphere, Gods – not the minute gods of Olympus or Asgard but colossal, monstrous beings - walked the land and were initially born of the very molten lava of our earth. As deities comprised of raw metal, they are prone to rust and over the millenniums required the blood of man to act as grease for their enormous, machinating bodies. Men do not sacrifice themselves so readily anymore, especially since the end of heavy industry and the two World Wars - so our Industrial Gods are at a pivotal crux in their existence! In steps Paraphilia…
DD: There's a lot of sex/bodies on screen and a peepshow - but not so much touching - did you ever consider pushing the live action further?
85a: We’re saving that for the hardcore porno version of Chernozem!
DD: Did you film it all yourself?
85a: Yes, using exclusively obsolete Panasonic VHS cameras. We tried them all: the M7, M10, M25... they all broke down in the process and are now used as the props for our ‘Gubbins’ stall...The film has a very analogue, archaic aesthetic which taps into that atramental vein of German Expressionism and industrial documentaries. That said, WWI and WWII footage was applied here and there when we realized we couldn’t get our hands on real tanks...
DD: What was the soundtrack?
85a: A lot of the music tracks are by the unbelievably amazing industrial band ‘DBMG/RAF’. The unmatched talents of Phil Lee breathed life into all of the characters who otherwise, existing in a ‘silent’ film, would not have had any voice at all.
DD: It seems consciously rough around the edges almost in the DIY/punk spirit. Is this part of your ethos?
85a: Absolutely! 85A’s core crew are people who play in industrial and punk bands, scrap-metal artists, textile designers, video wizards, brewers, illustrators, performers, noise artists, builders, etc. all of whom make stuff just for the love of it! We recycle, salvage, and bosh things together because we don’t have huge budgets. The rough edges and the sense of danger in the work all add to the experience.
DD: Is it important to you that it's in the fringe spirit and not a GI affiliate programme?
85a: Yes it is. Our work doesn’t fit the curatorial remit for the festival. GI sees itself as a fine art festival, whereas we tread different lines. The show just isn’t dry enough to sit alongside the official program.
DD: What's your personal highlight?
85a: The scene in ‘KINO! where the audience views Paraphilia’s birth sequence inversely within the murky black, infinite depths of a pool of car-radiator oil we’re particularly proud of.
DD: What draws you to the dark?
85a: It’s more exciting in here...
CHERNOZEM: KINO!, until 5 May 2012, The Glue Factory, Glasgow, 22 Farnell St, G4 9SE