Symmetry: a palindromic film (SLVimeo)
January 5, 2014 2:28 PM   Subscribe

This film has been written symmetrically. The second half is strictly like the first, but played backwards and mirrored. The second part doesn't act like a simple rewinding, but as the following of the first. It explores all sorts of symmetry: compositions, shapes, sounds and music, scenario, colors, actions, time...
posted by MoonOrb (13 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Neat. Some very clever ideas here -- particularly the way travel in cities and underground leaves you disoriented as to whether you're coming or going, the way the camera moves through the mirror so smoothly. I loved the way the clock reverses from 05:05 to 20:20. I'm going to send this to a friend with a warning not to read the description.
posted by mochapickle at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Backwards is forwards is backwards. It's fun to think of the morning as nighttime.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:55 PM on January 5, 2014

Reminds me of the Michel Gondry-directed "Sugar Water" music video. That one has the extra impressive merit of only having one shot.
posted by anewnadir at 3:15 PM on January 5, 2014 [14 favorites]

Symmetry in art is super interesting. While not a strict sort of symmetry, the last Boards of Canada album's song order has been described as symmetrical; there are motifs in the mirrored tracks, and the central track's structure is palindromic. Futhermore, the narrative (of course it's a concept album) is also palindromic, dealing with growing cycles, ecological apocalypse, and so on.
posted by cellphone at 3:44 PM on January 5, 2014

Wonder Showzen did it first. The episode titled "Patience", the first season finale was in two acts. The first act played out with the expected surreal and subversive humor and several odd seemingly random bits, the second act played backwards and completed the picture as it were that the first act introduced.
posted by mediocre at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2014

Wonder Showzen did it first.

Well, maybe Wonder Showzen did it second? The Michel Gondry-directed video mentioned above by anewnadir was made in 1996 and is a pretty obvious precursor.
posted by Mothlight at 4:05 PM on January 5, 2014

Blatant but relevant self-promotion: A few of the tracks from the albums I wrote and produced over the last summer and early are either completely waveform-symmetrical, or they're pre-post symmetrical and mirrored aside from being run through an final reverb/delay network.

"Glory Fugue" from the Edge Detection in particular is more or less a true fugue, in that it's not simply mirrored and split down the middle, but in the production of it taking the two final audio waveforms, reversing one and then compositing them on top of each other end-to-end. You can play Glory Fugue backwards and it's it's basically identical to listening to it forwards, excluding minor dithering or compression artifacts. (But I'm splitting hairs. It's close enough that I can't even tell, after spending hours on producing that track and trying to get it perfect.)

This was actually a happy accident that's an extension of the visual geometric optical art that I still occasionally make, and I haven't yet heard of any experimental/ambient/noise (or any music at all) that is actually this perfectly symmetrical. Even Bach's fugues are thematic and would be different played backwards due to individual note decays and timbres, though you can play sections of his fugues note-for-note in reverse and they'll be the same as forwards, just not as a recording like I can with Glory Fugue.

Anyway, bringing it back to the topic, this is relevant to my interests because I've been kicking around ideas of making videos for the albums to post to YouTube, possibly using a lot of NASA stock footage and doing something that was palindromic or symmetrical both spatially and temporarily for the films.

Mentioned albums are linked on my profile page, both in a completely free google drive format for streaming, or on bandcamp.
posted by loquacious at 5:28 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is pretty cool. It is not entirely effective; there were a number of parts that seemed weird the first time through... that only make sense on the way back. But there was a lot that worked very well (such as the clock).

For another palindromic film precursor see the silent film interlude in the middle of Berg's opera Lulu. The entire opera has a loosely palindromic structure, the music for the interlude is entirely palindromic. The silent film is different for each production/revival of the opera (featuring the Lulu, etc. from the production); sometimes there is more emphasis of on the palindromic structure. [This one (possibly NSFW) isn't terribly palindromic but it gives you an idea and includes the music].

For another operatic treatment there's Hindemith's Hin und zurück from 1927 where the entire 12 minute opera is a palindrome. [You can see a recent production from Wichita state: first part, and the start of the second part].
posted by mountmccabe at 6:29 PM on January 5, 2014

I came to chime in on "Sugar Water," and see that it's been done. A work of genius.
posted by zardoz at 1:11 AM on January 6, 2014

I love art that can be overlaid on itself to reveal hidden complexities. It's not the same technique, but if you liked this video, you might also like the the animated short "Tango".
posted by archagon at 1:21 AM on January 6, 2014

Eponysteri... wait a minute
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:26 AM on January 6, 2014

I like that just as with a round-trip journey, the trip back goes quicker than the trip there.
posted by bendybendy at 3:11 AM on January 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can't watch this as I'm at work, but I wanted to drop in book five of The Watchmen as an interesting palindromic work of art.
posted by whir at 11:40 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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