Leon Lister Explores The Idea of ‘Parallels’ in Formation: Installation Documentation (2021)By John Olorun
Leon Lister’s Formation: Installation Documentation is an insightful piece, discussing themes of spirituality, suicide, and freedom.
Lister’s way of filmmaking is peculiar. Upon watching his other projects, there seems to be a magnetic element to the way he draws the viewer toward the themes presented.
“Lister speaks to us that there is indeed a parallel of sorts; the
proof of an untapped realm...”
The film opens with a text describing the visual to be, “a human observing a city; to then jump off the city an transform into a bird interdimensionally”, followed by documentation of equipment used to accompany the narrative of the film. The first scene shows a bird flying on the screen of a choppy Trinitron television, with a sheet of paper held down by two stones (one at the top and one at the bottom) of a declassified 1983 CIA document titled, The Gateway Project.
The spiritual realm is a place which is often (ignorantly) unnoticed by most. Lister’s acknowledgement of spirituality is a subject that most filmmakers only confine to the horror genre. But, in this film, Lister proposes that there may be some sort of freedom in the spiritual realm rather than that of the physical realm. The “film cut” then opens with a series of rapidly sequenced, shorter scenes: a close up of a man in a black hoodie, the top of a Gothic building (or church) with social housing behind it, the ‘man’ walking on a high railing, and then finally, him jumping off. Once the sequence finishes, we then see a bird flying over a beach, landing on the sandy dune. The visual is now black and white, and the camera pans out to show the beach in its entirety. The bird is now surrounded by tall, rough, beach rock, spread out along the beachside. There’s a sharp cut to an image of distant children playing on the seaside, to the rocky landscape with a partially destroyed danger sign, stating “DANGE[R] BEWARE OF THE FALLING ROC[KS]”.
“Lister is drawn to the social commentary of the relationship between man and nature, and the detriments of the development of our urban,
industrial landscape on the earth.”
The film concludes with an oval-shape - hole-filled landscape -- the horizon of the sky glaring
through it. This ‘parallel’ of the beach sequence against the city sequence implies that the man from the beginning of the film cut was confined. As seen in Lister’s previous projects such as Environment Body Perspective and Concrete Ecosystem, Lister is drawn to the social commentary of the relationship between man and nature, and the detriments of the development of our urban, industrial landscape on the earth.
It seems that with this project, Lister has made up his mind, and is now needing to break free. There are suggested themes of suicide in the film, but Lister did not make them explicitly known. The film wraps its overall narrative with nostalgia – the curiosity of our world which fuels the essence of childhood is, essentially, distant from us now. From this, Lister whispers the question to the viewer: are you also willing to break free?
Directed by Leon Lister
Here’s the link to watch the full short film: Formation: Installation Documentation.
A Home for the Cinema Underground
A Home for the Cinema Underground