The process of binding mortal flesh, a Japanese art form known as shibari, represents dark obsessions in the new science fiction film, Sculpt. Produced by Loris Gréaud for The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Sculpt delves into the notion of obsession—both their causes and outcomes. With a strong cast featuring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Rampling, the film follows the perceptions of a man who is becoming aware of his own cognitions and learning to accept his unorthodox fantasies.
Aesthetically inspired by the Blood Moon Eclipse which appeared in September of 2015, Sculpt has been color-edited to mirror this same black-red phenomenon of the moon. With themes including fetishism and voodoo, the film holds a mirror up to the compulsive sides of mankind that are often misconceived, attempting to unearth unrealized, dark abstractions from its audience.
Similar to a 3D sculpture, Sculpt will be experienced in different intersections, revealing multilayered narratives. As Gréaud tells The Creators Project, “What defines a sculpture is its ability for you to turn it around. I want to produce a story that you can turn around and question.” This will be executed by showcasing stolen clips from the movie in illegal screenings throughout the world, as Gréaud explains, “One of the main ideas behind this was to use the shape and dynamic of a Möbius strip to question the inside and outside of one single surface.”
Thus, Sculpt is not just a film, but an experience—only one onlooker will be able to view the film at a time. Viewers will get the sense that they are being watched, as though they are becoming part of the film’s obsession; an ally to its voyeuristic nature.
This feeling of being watched and hunted is one of the main motives that drive the film. The very film rolls used to shoot Sculpt were blessed by Priestess Miriam Chamani in the Voodoo Spiritual Temple in New Orleans. As Gréaud explains, “One of the very first aesthetic discussions that occurred was the possibility of blessing or cursing the virgin 16mm rolls in The Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Most of the important sequences of the film have been filmed with those ‘magnetic rolls.’ This leaves one question: what will become of the object you are projecting if it contains a narration with potential spirits?”
Following tenebrous themes, Sculpt uses shibari rope bondage to not only restrict movement but to suspend the individual. This is not only a sexual practice, but an artistic and connective one—a form of communication and expression within a safe environment. In the film, shibari represents the characters forming mental obsessions. Gréaud explains, “The underground shibari studio is where the main character, Willem Dafoe weaves and links his clouds of thought and narrations. The ropes represent the developing neuronal networks.”
As a filmmaker, Gréaud wants to oppose the separation between the physical and the mental states of mind. “I’m interested in Ballardian ideas of creating a valid external landscape with direct correspondence to the mind or imagining fiction as a branch of neurology—quantifying and eroticizing the reality.” Sculpt is an attempt to blur these boundaries in a visual landscape.
The screenings for Sculpt begin at LACMA on August 16, 2016. Click here to learn more.