Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Prison of Memory

Aereogramme, a band that should me much more popular than they already are, quietly release yet another strong single, "Barriers," and a compelling video to accompany it...

Aereogramme "Barriers"

dir. by Hugo Cuellar

"so let me tell the truth, let me come alive/let me build bridges, into your eyes"

Years later, sitting in his bedroom, he takes a look at that picture and it all comes flooding back. Yet this time, when he looks at it all in the vague fog of his memories, there seems to be no reason why it ever had to end. He is overtaken with warm feelings of love, things he wants to say to her, and the courage that he once lacked. Triumphantly he breaks through those barriers and is released into the frenzied freedom of his thoughts.

The initial impact of pain and danger - drowning in a sea of scary fish - does not deter or remind him of what lies ahead. He is heroically determined to reclaim his love, determined to find what is buried so deeply in his subconscious. This is, after all, a head-to-head battle with his own head - these are barriers he himself has so firmly placed.

Director Hugo Cuellar's magnificent animation implies a skewed reality, one where shadows are accentuated with abstract angles, colors are vibrant only against the blandness of the environment and nothing is ever really square. Yet the constellations above the falling stars are marked like a connect-the-dots game, as if the entire universe is in some perfect order just outside the grasp of our snowglobe thoughts. These floating reminders of science are things our hero never really considers. He focuses on the scrambled, messy and infinitely more beautiful landscape of the human mind - sorrow and all.

He drives all night to sweep her off her feet, past the falling stars and crashing prison bars. The road reflects the same yellow lines of limitation, as do the buildings in the sky, the trees sprouting from the ground and the cracks in the sky - an entire world made of blockades and confinements. Yet yellow is also mirrored in the sun, the shining hope from the lighthouse and the picture of his lost love that begins this journey.

Aereogramme's tune hinges on the line "I found love in the loneliest places," a clever contradiction of traditional imagery - love of course is not supposed to be lonely. But our hero is not experiencing a trip across time and space to reconnect with his actual lover, he is transfigured on a lonely night in remembrance of their past relationship. It is only now, now that he looks his feelings firmly in the eye, that he realizes the extent of his love for her.

Despite his defeat of his internal fears, his overcoming of hesitation and self-denial, he is still shook by the reality of the situation. She is gone, she will never be back - and he was too late to express himself to her. This is the one barrier he can't break, the one thing he can't jump over or drive around. But of course this is because he's still confined to the walls of his imagination, restricted by the ceiling of his mind and memory. The real world of constellations and science beckons him, but he'd rather sit in his upside-down lonely love.

The question remains whether or not he really has to let it go. Of course it's never healthy to wallow in some hopeless cause, but perhaps experiencing that love over and over again in his memory - even if it always ends in pain - is worth it. It would be easy to simply conclude that he should break free of his past and move forward with the knowledge that next time he should express his feelings sooner. But in reality some barriers really do seem "here to stay." We may actually enjoy building them up after each time they fall - just so we can experience shattering through them again.

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Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie