One of the most striking things I experienced recently in the category “Watch” wasn’t a movie, but a magic situation I witnessed in real-life. My girlfriend and I lived in an abandoned art-deco villa for some weeks. On an exploration tour through the many different rooms of the house, we opened the door of the basement. We found the remains of an old, bizarre café there, with an old gas lamp standing on a small table. To our surprise the lamp was lit, we saw a flame dancing right in the middle of it. We stood still in silence and realised after some time what caused this phenomenon: the setting sun penetrated through a small window. The ray of light shone right into the lamp. Some leaves at the outside of the window swayed gently in the wind and made the light flicker and the ‘flame’ dance. This magic lightplay only lasted for about ten minutes, then the angle of the sun changed and the ‘flame’ faded. We later realised this phenomenon can only happen during a very short period in summer and only if all weather conditions are perfect (the right amount and angle of sunlight, wind, lack of clouds…). So it’s a crazy coincidence, we entered the surreal room right at that moment and were able to registrate it. Here’s a video excerpt of this phenomenon:
I got the book ‘The Circus. 1870’s-1950s’ (Taschen) as a birthday present and it became one of my favourites. It’s a fascinating time-capsule of a bygone era, long before the advent of film, radio, television, internet. It recreates the tragicomic poetry of the performers (headless breathing bodies, bearded ladies, flying human birds, animal hypnotists, daredevils, monkeys like men and men like monkeys… ), the music, the need for exotica and escapism of the audience. The book describes the rise, but also the tragic fall of the travelling circus, so it’s not only a nostalgic, romantic trip down memory lane, but it also handles the downside: the overcommercialisation, the complete immorality of the freak shows. Apart from the written history, the book contains tons of mesmerizing, exclusive images, drawings and posters. Just looking at these images fills your head immediately with sounds and music.
I don’t travel that often but one of my best travel memories is from a residency stay in Isola Comacina some years ago. Isola Comacina is a very small isle in Italy and for some reason I can’t remember, it’s Belgian property. There are no inhabitants, but there are 3 beautiful houses, where Belgian and Italian artists can work, only during summer. To be honest it wasn’t the isle as such, because it’s not that special, but it was magical to live and work there in complete isolation for weeks. When me and my girlfriend were there, we were the only people on the isle and there was no distraction whatsoever (no pubs, no internet, no mobile phone connection…). Our only distraction came from a lake, a mountain, trees, insects and birds. We spent our days watching and listening to our surroundings, especially the transit period between night and morning was magical.