MEN AT WORK

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Year of Production: 2012

(1st version released in 2010, completely re-edited in 2012)

Running Time: 5min51s

Original Format: Found footage 16mm Film 

Master Format: Quicktime File (1080p)

SYNOPSIS:

Cinema has always had a special interest in factory workers. In fact the first Lumière brothers film “Workers Leaving the Factory” from 1895 has often been credited as the first motion picture ever made. In the 20th century also many experimental filmmakers depicted the rat race of modern life in their own way. Such films include for example “Manhatta” (1921) by Paul Strand & Charles Sheeler, “By Night with Torch and Spear” (1940s) by Joseph Cornell and “Necrology” (1969-1970) by Standish Lavender. The films “Men at Work” and “Smokestacks, Below” continue the same tradition.

These films also form a two-film series describing factory work as they have been compiled from the same found footage material. When screened together they demonstrate aptly the vast possibilities of found footage filmmaking. However, the films can be screened individually as well.

Men at Work” depicts one average workday in the factory environment. The repetitive and dull nature of industrial work is underlined by speeding up the time code of the original material and by looping the material back and forth every now and then. When all natural movement is destroyed, the machines and the people working with them blend together and eventually become one. This way the factory itself becomes one living organism with various moving parts, some human, some not. By taking the form of one workday from morning till noon the film also hints that it could depict just any day, since in this kind of work all the days are more or less the same.

However, all this is done through humour and warm irony. All the techniques used are common clichés of postmodern audiovisual language and used widely in music videos among others. The industrial atmosphere is completed with the retro-synth flavoured audio track, which has been compiled from ready-made loops and samples and contains no actual “playing” in the traditional sense.

The audio track of the film has been published on MUU FOR EARS 10 compilation CD.

WRITINGS:

Johansson brilliantly tinkered with the film, creating a startling X-ray effect with the monochrome cinematography while speeding and slowing the action without warning. An appropriately industrial-style soundtrack provides an aural complement to the visual action. In the end, humanity barely wins – if only through an end-of-shift exit down a bleak road to another unknown.”

Phil Hall, Film Threat (4/5 stars).

Kun konemusiikki yhdistyy teknisesti muokatun kuvan rytmiin, tuloksena on mukaansatempaavia maailmoja, kuten Panu Johanssonin found footagessa Men at Work, joka kuvaa tehtaan tai voimalaitoksen työmiesten arkipäivää. Nopearytminen negatiivifilmivideo luo kiehtovasti vieraannutetun kertomuksen teollisuusympäristöstä.”

Jonna Hyry, critique for the YOUNG ARTISTS 2011 at Kunsthalle Helsinki, Taide-magazine 1/2012 p.51.

SCREENINGS & EXHIBITIONS:

2017 Moviate Screening: Best of 2016, Harrisburg, PA, USA

2016 Moviate Underground Film Festival, Harrisburg, PA, USA

2015 Videodrunk Film Festival, Toronto, Canada

2015 Unseen Zinema 3, Madrid, Spain

2013 Vitus Festival, Rovaniemi, Finland 

2013 Kinos Film Festival, Lahti, Finland

2012 Montreal Underground Film Festival, Canada

2012 Experimental Film Festival Portland, OR, USA

2012 The Snowball Effect – the North Finland Biennial, Oulu Museum of Art, Finland (group exhibition)

2012 PolArt2K-Exhibition, Kemi Art Museum, Finland (group exhibition)

2012 Design Kino, Jyväskylä, Finland  

2011 YOUNG ARTISTS 2011 – Finnish Artist’s Associotion’s exhibition for Young Artists, Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland (group exhibition)

2011 Antimatter Film Festival, Victoria, Canada

2011 New England Underground Film Festival, Hartford, CT, USA

2011 The West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival, Morgantown, WV, USA

STILL IMAGES: