With Torque Björn Kämmerer continues his recent cinematic investigations into the intersection of abstraction and representation, geometry and motion. In his previous two films Gyre and Turret, he removed normally static domestic objects from their everyday context and set them in motion. The revolving items – a large model of a log cabin in Gyre and an arrangement of window casements in Turret – were filmed in a studio, their revolutions serving to reveal unique graphic qualities. For Torque, Kämmerer has left domestic architecture behind, taking the camera out of doors to shoot on location. The film consists of a single continuous tracking shot across a series of converging railway tracks. The cinemascope image is subtly modulated by the gradual upward tilt of the camera slowly revealing a further extension of track. This double motion along two different trajectories originating from two separate axis creates a visual and perceptual tension between our experience of renaissance perspective, the expanding depth of field, and the two dimensional plane of the surface on which the image is projected, where the tracks can also be read as abstract shifting diagonal lines.
Torque pushes and pulls the viewer in different directions as it illustrates the uncanny coexistence between the perpetual sideways motion on the screen and the arrangement of converging tracks. A dynamic tension exists between the geometric elements, the smooth diagonal lines of the tracks, and those elements, gravel and wooden ties that possess a rough irregularity indicating the actual location of the film. The unmodulated parallel lines of the blank monorial optical soundtrack provide an almost inaudible echo of the railway tracks on screen which, on a metaphysical level suggest a seemingly endless proliferation of past, present and future journey beginning at the unnamed location from which they radiate. In this way the film serves as a central axis for travel in time as well as space.
The camera pans over parallel train tracks that extend out ward. Lost in the eponymous torque, the spectator looks in vain for points of reference. While the sideways movement collides with the imaginary pulling effect of the diagonally moving train tracks, the camera’s perspective shifts impercep tibly: Space dilates into the depths, time appears obsolete.
(Catalog Diagonale Festival of Austrian Films, 2013)
Torque generates an abstract moment solely by framing the image and moving the camera. Similar to the precedent works of Kämmerer Torque follows the principles of an uncut tracking shot. However, it does not depict a constructed artificial space but works with consistent imagery of a detail in a real setting. Only the running modifications of the view that shift the perspective via the movement of the dolly drive slowly and almost impalpably reveal slight differences in the structure of the semmingly identical pictures. With a sudden stand and a subsequent "correction" of framing the camera draws near its starting position but it is cut short with an abrupt shift to black.