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By David Finkelstein | October 27, 2011

“marks…holes” is an abstract animated short by Henry Gwiazda. Gwiazda uses computer software to generate a large number of landscapes, which combine sand, rocks, and water. Some parts of the landscapes are naturalistic, but they also contain impossible details, such as a lake which is draped off of the rocks like a piece of fabric. The constantly shifting light is also partly naturalistic, but also features squares of projected patterns. The clouds and other elements in the landscapes are always in motion, as is the point of view of the camera, which zooms in at intervals to look at details. Some of the rocks are covered with strange, hieroglyphic-like marks. The sound collage combines natural, ambient sounds such as cows, birds, and insects, with sparse guitar chords.

The opening section presents these landscapes in miniature, on little buttons, like web icons, which shift over the screen. Soon this changes to a format where the screen is divided into quarters, each quarter containing a different landscape. In a final section, we see only one landscape at a time, filling the screen. The sound collage also becomes much simpler at this point.

The same sequences are seen and heard in all three sections, as the film moves from a complex and dense counterpoint to an increasingly simple, clear format. The open and curving landscapes are delightful to look at, with hidden recesses which invite one’s eye inside. They are quite obviously computer-generated and unrealistic, yet their sunny, well-lit quality exudes a deliciously spacious and exploratory feeling. Because the opening of the film intrigued me with its complex multiplicity, I relished the chance to see the images a few more times, and to examine them in increasing detail.

In “marks…holes,” Henry Gwiazda creates a kind of music which combines images and sounds to create a set of formal variations which are playful, spacious, and exciting to watch.

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