And the birds chirped. “Et les oiseaux chantaient,” a saccharine-sweet instrumental piece released long ago by the Swiss electronic-listening combo Sweet People, accompanies Dietmar Brehm’s remix film COKE. And they really sing, the lovely birds, while the film’s mysterious sequences unfold — in slow motion and garish red. The material was taken from Brehm’s video series PRAXIS he has been working on since 2007, comprising 16 parts so far. Scene 60 from PRAXIS-8, recycled here, contains private footage by (and of) the filmmaker, at times in disguise, the debris from porn films he’s known for — and the mystery of a crumpled Coca-Cola bottle. It really seems as if it were bent or in the process of melting, an effect produced by superimpositions and the extreme deceleration that Brehm bestowed in addition to stretching the material from its original 4:3 format to 16:9. Arranged in a circle, the uncanny arc described by COKE with an image of a flame, followed by the artist’s “home movies,” the examination of the coke bottle mentioned above, hand movements and gazes extracted from pornographic material, and a loop of someone stubbing out a cigarette in a full ashtray. Then in the film’s middle the filmmaker, wearing a cold eye mask for headaches, in a countercut with a gorilla’s head — as if the masked viewer had caught himself watching and glanced at his (thoroughly ironic) counterimage. From that point on everything goes in reverse back to the beginning, to the flame’s red glow where everything began. While this is happening the sickly sweetness of the synthetic bird sounds increases once again (culminating in the ecstatic calls of a cuckoo), and Brehm’s “flickering,” at a reduced speed, suddenly shows something resembling meekness and repose. Coke, don’t make me laugh! Or hasn’t it always been a kind of sedative anyway?
3 min 32 sec