Scene from the film Neon
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  • Austria

This unpretentiousness of this video’s title is equals the simplicity of its underlying structure. Nik Thoenen, a graphic artist by trade, constructed an installation consisting of fluorescent tubes mounted in a horizontal row especially for this video, his first. The arrangement of tubes was then “scanned“ with a mounted Super-8 film camera.

The method employed for this experiment had the following purpose: When neon lights are switched on, a mixture of inert gases trapped inside the tubes is electrically charged, producing an uneven, uncontrollable flickering. Together, the six stacked fluorescent tubes produce a nervous, polyrhythmic light show which lasts for a few seconds. For a closer look at this esthetic phenomenon, it was filmed at all possible speeds from time lapse to slow motion and with all available stops. Timo Novotny, a maker of music videos, then copied the resulting Super-8 material with a digital camera at different shutter speeds and manipulated the speed of the footage during the digital postproduction phase. Finally, an atmospherically dense and somewhat eerie soundtrack by Wolfgang Schloegl was added. Dramatically, this joint project is consummated in a continuous switch from dark to light. Slowly but without hesitation, a disquieting tension builds, and resolution in the form of a “discharge“ never comes. The physical qualities of neon – this “cool light of the modern“ – serve as the starting point for this minimalist work’s fascinating composition of light and sound. (Norbert Pfaffenbichler)


  • Original title
  • Direction
  • DOP
    Nik Thoenen
  • Editing
    Nik Thoenen
  • Sound
    Wolfgang Schloegl
  • Duration
    5 min (1-15 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Austria
  • Colour
    • Colour
  • Festivals
    • Augsburg - Kurzfilmwochenende
    • Edinburgh - International Film Festival
    • Hamburg - Int. Kurzfilm-Festival & No Budget
    • Weimar - back-up festival. new media in film
    • Wien - Viennale - Int. Filmfestwochen
    • Buenos Aires Festival Int. de Cine Independiente is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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