Dark Matter

DCP, colour and B&W, 20 minutes, 2014

Karel Doing

Dark Matter

A personal archive of family portraits and landscape photographs is used together with material experiments on film emulsion.

With the second world war as a backdrop the film follows the trail of the filmmaker’s father through industrial structures, moody forests, and surreal half desert, alongside abstract, highly detailed, and fast moving images. The film material itself tells a compelling story in form, colour and rhythm. A variety of chemical, bio-chemical and mechanical techniques were used for the creation of these animated ‘direct’ images.

The hybrid film form offers a sensory experience and simultaneously an intellectual challenge; who was this man and what were his motives to travel as far away from his original home town as he could? Why did he photograph thousands of landscapes but hardly took any pictures of his friends, family and colleagues?

Taking a selection of my father's vast archive of landscape photographs as a starting point, I embarked on an investigation of the possibilities for creating 'landscapes' directly on motion picture film material.

Using yeast, salt, leaves and seaweed as reactive elements I managed to find a new way for creating images on analogue film. The yeast grew; feeding on the gelatin, the caustic power of the salt left marks in the emulsion, the acidity of the leaves attacked the film even stronger, and chlorophyl in the seaweed was absorbed; creating unexpected colours.

Additionally I experimented with organic developers and a range of chemical toning techniques and more destructive techniques such as scraping, applying acid and temporary burial of photographic material.

I used the resulting collection of images to create an experiential cinematic piece, simultaneously being a portrait of my father, an account of the largely unknown part of his life before I was born, and a moving visual painting.


Jihlava International Documentary Festival (Jihlava)
Alchemy Film Festival, (Hawick)
International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Oberhausen)
Leiden International Short Film Experience (Leiden)
EYE Film Institute (Amsterdam)
International Film Festival Signes de Nuit (Lisboa/Saarbrücken)
Arkipel International Documentary & Experimental Festival (Jakarta)
Antimatter [Media Art] (Victoria)
Fotofestival Schiedam (Schiedam)
Close Up Film Centre (London)
Kino Bize (Riga)