brief episodes of motion painting seem to arise spontaneously out of lyrically filmed scenes of the city. Interspersed all the way through the film these “dubbed photographs” (whether of a rampant Minotaur, a belly-dancer, a riot cop, a market trader, an imam….,) are yet another strand in our impression of Istanbul.
These altered images are not always easy to make out as they segue from the original video footage, but keep looking and the brush strokes will fall into recognizable figuration. Although we see me, as the artist, drawing throughout the film, the camera only rarely looks over my shoulder into the sketchbook, but to mark the end of each five, or six, minute section, to give us pause before beginning the next one, the screen is taken up with black and white illustrations referring both to past and future scenes.
There is no dialogue, only an electronic score steeped in Turkish sounds, which accompanies us around the city.
This is a documentary unlike conventional documentaries. No talking heads, explaining the artist and his art, no voiceover commentary. All we see is what the artist sees as he begins a new project, alternating with he has produced in the studio. All that is required of the viewer is to look with the same attentiveness and concentration as does the artist. The viewer should not be distracted by expectations of narrative, plot, suspense, but should instead just look, surrendering to the heightened visual experience, rewarded by seeing things anew.
Warping on Water is an artwork; a play of ideas and forms, fundamentally different from entertainment. Unusually for an artists’ film, this distinction between the genres is not made immediately obvious; what appears as one thing turns into another. A scripted intro; a montage of the city; a document of an artist working; a home-movie of the crew behind the camera; a set of animations; categories as ingredients in a continuum divided into seven separate, self-contained variations on a theme.
More a documentary about an artist than a travel film, and all of it incidental to the painting; revealing, in effect, the process leading to the juxtaposition between the altered image and the original photograph – this is a film about looking. From an initial impression, displaced as the viewer gets what is happening, to the realisation that, in terms of engagement, to see what is happening one’s modes of perception require constant adjustment. Finally, it is as a simulation of the artists’ particular experience within which we derive, as it were, our own vivid sense of place that gives this work its power.