Fire & Rain
How do you make something last just a minute that actually takes ten times as long? You boil it down. "I took the steel rolling process that takes about 10 minutes", James Benning writes about Fire & Rain, "and condensed it down to one minute by cutting out portions and hiding the elipses in time with dissolves."
James Benning takes this process of extraction literally when he watches red hot metal processed in a Ruhr steel mill. Benning, who himself is from the industrial town of Milwaukee, does without a focus on human labour, though, but - as in most of his feature length documentaries - looks at movement itself as part of a mechanised work process. Like a strip of light, the glowing steel flits across the screen a couple of times before it is cooled down by artificial rain - and both picture and movement dissolve in a cloud of steam.
A miniature, Fire & Rain is also a reference to Benning´s forthcoming film Ruhr, the portrait of an area undergoing profound structural change. For Benning, a region, or even an entire country, can change within a single frame. Even if that lasts no more than a minute.
(Viennale V´09 catalogue)
Fire & Rain
Austria, Germany, USA