Short Film Combines Rock Climbing, Brazil, and Sebastião Salgado-Style Visuals

Nicolas Cambier's dialogue-free 'AutoQuartz' follows an escaping miner, telling his tale through body language, sound design, and scenography.

by Kevin Holmes
Jun 13 2016, 1:20pm

Image courtesy of Nicolas Cambier

The glimmering yet darkened environment of a quartz mine is the setting for a new short, AutoQuartz, by London-based French filmmaker Nicolas Cambier. The dialogue-free black-and-white film follows a miner as he clambers from the depths of the quartz mine up a cliff, his body shimmering with the quartz crystals that are his life.

The audiovisual narrative relies entirely on body language, sound design, and scenography to tell the tale of the daring escape, with the miner almost like a dancer as he makes his bid for freedom. "From the very beginning, the desire was to create a character, with a story and a world as vivid as possible, with as little as possible," notes Cambier. It's a world that he describes as "stark, sun-less, where hard labor and mystique mix seamlessly."

Image courtesy of Nicolas Cambier

Two of the director's previous films—RuffSynapsehave concentrated on biomorphic wearables created by architect Behnaz Farahi. And this piece looks to continue with the concept of the augmented human body, albeit this time with crystallized minerals. Unlike those previous films, though, which documented experimental uses of 3D-printed technology, AutoQuartz takes inspiration from Latin-American music and culture, photographer Sebastião Salgado, and rock climbing, which Cambier recently took up.

"Brazil hit me as an amazing maze of sounds and body language, as if the culture was in constant motion," Cambier explains to The Creators Project. "Then I discovered the fiercely evocative work of Sebastião Salgado in an exhibition in Paris, more particularly his mine series in the 1980s Serra Pelada, with these thousands of termite-like miners climbing up and down the deep carved landscapes. Finally rock climbing, which I started about a year ago, taught by my friend Jake and who I spent hours observing from below, working his way up with (apparent) effortless grace. The idea of blending these three elements together started to grow, I imagined this young Brazilian miner who one night decides to climb his way out incognito, by covering his body with the sparkly soil of the mine he works in. I ended up mentioning the idea of the film straight to my climber friend, he seemed keen, so we went ahead. "

Image courtesy of Nicolas Cambier

Because of its unusual subject matter and unconventional approach Cambier has decided to crowdfund the project on Kickstarter. More traditional approaches—art grants, competitions, residencies, partnerships—would simply take too long.

If the goal is reached and the film is finalized, the project might not end with just a cinematic version, either. Because of the visual nature of it, future ambitions could include a possible live version, too, But at the moment, much like that escaping miner, Cambier and his team are taking it one step at a time.

Image courtesy of Nicolas Cambier

Visit Nicolas Cambier's website here. Visit the Kickstarter for AutoQuartz here.


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