Calum Stirling

Image: Remote Village,
Copyright the artist 2019

Calum Stirling - Noumenon: film poster

Single screen film

Running time: 15mins
German: English subtitles
An RSA Residencies for Scotland funded project 2013
An Talla Solias, Ullapool
2min clip>

Noumenon, in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, refers to the thing itself (das Ding an sich); a world unmediated by perception and therefore unknowable to man who is bound by his perceptions and knowledge of phenomena. For his RSA Residency in Scotland, Stirling began by experimenting with a series of underwater scenarios, filming off Gairloch, Tanera Mo?r and the Summer Isles, Dorney and Achnahaird. The artist built a set of specially designed camera caddies and dolly rigs to capture specific shots and explore the sea, remotely finding new visual means en route to convey the essence of the work.

The sea becomes both an optical medium and a physical restriction, allowing the viewer a potential glimpse of the noumenal world underwater. Film, sculptural objects, sealife and appropriated elements from a 1973 German science fiction film are combined to present a psychoaquageographical journey around the intertidal coastline of the West of Scotland.

Stirling repurposes subtitles, dialogue and soundtrack elements from the 1973 science fiction film World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) d. Rainer Werner Fassbinder 1973,with interventions from the artist on an obsolete circuit bent Casio keyboard. Based on the 1964 novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, both film and novel were early investigations of themes surrounding what would become known as virtual reality. The plot details a simulation program hosting an artificial world whose inhabitants are unaware that they are not human. The apparently disjunctive components which Stirling manipulates function in somewhat the same manner as the Simulacron computer. As described by the critic Ed Halter in his notes to the Criterion edition of the film “The computer here plays a role akin to that of Descartes’ “evil demon,” a theoretical entity who jams false information into all of the subject’s senses, bedeviling the realization of cogito ergo sum with the specter of solipsism”.