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Pascale Cassagnau

Apichatpong Weerasethakul,
Théorie des objets personnels
(une esthétique de l’effet spécial)

Kraft Éditions, 2016.

After studying video and contemporary art, in particular in Chicago, the Thai film-maker Apichatpong Weerasethakul made a handful of short films in Thailand, questioning the porous borderlines between fiction and documentary, in a lyrical manner. Devised as a series of intimist portraits and geographical surveys, the video films consist of long static shots focusing on a group of rootless people living on the country’s borders, and dealing with the problem of not belonging anywhere.

Acclaimed at the 2001 International Film Festival in Paris at the Forum des Images, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first full-length 35 mm film titled «Mysterious Object at Noon» already offered a precise idea of the video-maker’s aesthetic orientations, encouraging a naturalist theme, and his desire to keep the camera at some remove from his anonymous characters, to usher in what he calls ‘enigmatic time-related material’.
«Blissfully Yours» was selected in 2002 in Cannes at the Quinzaine des réalisateurs, while «Tropical Malady» was awarded a prize in the 2004 official competition, pursuing a cinematographic approach on the boundary between documentary and fiction. Three other films then followed, «Syndrome and a Century» (2006), «Uncle Boonmee» ( 2010) which won the Palme d’or at the Cannes festival, before his two latest works «Hotel Mekong» (2013), and «Cemetery Of Splendour» ( 2015).
The book Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Théorie des objets personnels (une esthétique de l’effet spécial) maps the film-maker’s whole oeuvre, from a retrospective angle, illustrating the unusual spirituality of this cinema.

The bilingual digital book deals abundantly with the interplay of image editing and the photographic dimension of images, as well as their relation to sound and music. Seventeen short films, most of them unpublished, punctuate the reading of the album which contains more than 200 illustrations, plus an original sound track, like the sound track for the film «Hotel Mekong».
The digital book, whose architecture has been devised by the graphic designers Trafik, has no menu or precise interface. The computer graphics used offer an excellent readability and a great fluidity between the various elements, like an album.

Two navigation modes will help readers to deal with the text/image relation. A vertical mode for scrolling the text, incorporating reference images in the corpus of the films mentioned, and a horizontal mode making it possible to «randomly» discover a library of images and videos. With neither hierarchy nor logic, the user strolls among images and for the most part unpublished films, underpinned by a novel sound environment devised by Chai Bathana.
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