2017 Version 2023 126 minutes 4K 7.1 sound colour/b&w 24 fps 1:2.39


22. September 2023 - 14. Jänner 2024 im Kunsthaus Zürich: "Zeit - Von Dürer bis Bonvicini"
29. Dezember 2023 im Gartenbaukino Wien
6. Jänner 2024 im Filmmuseum München

A film with no answers but as many questions as there are stars in the universe, Austrian structuralist Johann Lurf has chosen an audacious and ever-expanding subject for his feature film debut: the stars of cinema. Not the movie stars, but the stars in the night’s sky, pinpricks of light against the darkness excerpted from films beginning at cinema’s dawn and continuing to this present day in a project that is planned to be expanded yearly. These stellar instances, riven from context with sound intact—ambient hums, grand orchestral scores, pedantic explanations, dreamy speculation—are magical fields of darkness sprinkled with possibilities. Lurf’s jazzy editing, balancing tranquil concentration and jumpy jitters based on his methodology of retaining each clip’s length, image and sound, sends the audience on a journey across the tones of promise and threat that emanate from the cosmos. A subject difficult if not impossible to accurately photograph on film, we are therefore greeted again and again by the varied interpretations of the starry night by matte artists and special effects wizards, gazing now in stillness, now in careening motion across or into space at incandescent nebulae, distant twinkling dots, and the black void in-between. Surveying a history of cinema’s fixation with, and escape to, outer space, we find both what audiences in their own times saw up there, as well as mirrors of our own wonderment: Awe, terror, hope, arrogant confidence, melancholic yearning and blank, awesome silence. These are the rare moments when the movie audience, backs to the projector, in fact faces light projected at them: Our eyes are the screens for the cinema of the stars.
Daniel Kasman in October 2017

A film that defies easy explanation, ★ is filmmaker Johann Lurf’s inventive examination of how outer space has been portrayed in movies.
You don’t have to be a scientist to find space fascinating. Few things in the universe have enthralled, perplexed, and inspired such a diverse group of people, from astronomers and philosophers to artists and ordinary people walking at night. Artists were so inspired by the heavens that they created artwork of celestial objects — even when you see a “photo” of other planets and stars, it is often an artist’s rendering.
Lurf playfully shows how cinema turned the stars into endless metaphors, dreams, and warm blankets. There is no story or characters — only movie scenes worked together outside of their contexts. We put our own thoughts into the stunning scenes while each clip’s sound design presents us with ambience, brief dialogue, or loud music. The editing enthralls us as space is not depicted the same in every clip. If you have a love affair with movies and the sky, ★ is the ultimate romantic art film.
Sundance Film Festival in January 2018

A one-of-a-kind cinematic experience, Vienna-based filmmaker Johann Lurf’s ★ is quite literally the ultimate cosmic trip through the entire history of cinema.
Drawing on extensive clips from countless films throughout the history of motion pictures, Lurf constructs an epic chronological assembly of sequences of the starry sky from the very beginning of cinema up to the present year (the film is updated annually). Each clip retains its original accompanying audio, resulting in an exhilarating experience that is at turns hypnotic, defining, and perversely comic. Lurf positions the audience as the ever-dreaming stargazers, while also celebrating the illusionism of cinema; we never quite forget that we are witnessing a sped-up history of not just motion picture technological development, but also the modern evolution of humanity’s relationship to the magnitude of space. The night sky as depicted throughout cinema is both intimate and unimaginably vast, and Lurf’s magnificent film is a brilliantly immersive and self-aware tribute to both of those grand emotional scales of cinematic engagement.
The 2022 edition of ★ will be preceded by Lurf’s short film Twelve Tales Told, in which he interweaves a dozen major studio logos to create a cinematic time-sculpture celebrating and satirizing the epic-scale branding of industrial cinema.
Programmed and notes by Academy Film Archive Senior Film Preservationist Mark Toscano, Academy Museum in February 2022

This film’s ambition is both precise and lofty: an exploration of cinematic history consisting solely of scenes of starry skies. No landscapes, not even trees or roofs. A cloud or a satellite perhaps. No subtitles either. The excerpts retain their original – often kitsch or bombastic – soundtracks and are in chronological order. Initially, the iconography is pretty naive, but later viewers are presented with a galaxy of stylistic approaches and technical solutions. The more recent, the more realistic.
Besides a trip through film history, ★ is also a conceptual work that elicits questions concerning our relationship with time and space. Moreover Lurf forces us to reflect on human aspirations. Yet his own ambitions are also exceptionally high: he wants to make an unending director’s cut, providing a new, longer version each year.
Rotterdam International Film Festival in January 2018

By turns tranquil and bombastic, humorous and hypnotic — a completely singular trip through the annals of cinema by way of a most universal visual. By moving chronologically from the silent era to the present day, Lurf has charted a kind of alternate history of the moving image.
Jordan Cronk in Film Comment on March 3rd 2018

Since the dawn of humankind we have been fascinated by the nighttime sky shining with stars. Beyond our view of these luminous points, the deep and endless universe spreads out, its faraway galaxies and nebulae invisible to the naked eye, leaving us to ponder them with mere speculation or in dreams. Our conception of the stars and the cosmos has been formed by others’ imaginations: scientists, science popularizers, and artists. Inevitably, our own ideas, fears, aspirations, and even our changing modes of depicting and thinking about them are detectable in these imaginings. Johann Lurf compiled his film solely from images of the universe drawn from a total of 550 films across motion picture history. The result is a compelling poetic essay that is as much about the way we represent outer space as it is about the cosmos itself.
Hubert Poul for the 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in June 2018

In his ambitious, magisterial found-footage film, ★, Johann Lurf gathers together imagery from literally hundreds of films throughout the history of cinema, extracting the sequences that depict the star-filled nighttime sky. Though it is in a sense a work of extreme minimalism, like so many minimalist works of art its simplicity actually functions as a portal to a great richness and an invitation to profound contemplation.
★ is as much a sonic collage as a visual one: the soundtrack is edited in sync with the imagery, and the brief, abruptly-interrupted music, sound effects, or snatches of dialogue conjure up an entire world of off-screen space and narrative traces. Visually speaking, the apparent minimalism is subverted by the astonishing range of methods filmmakers have used to depict the nighttime sky. Part of the poetry of ★ lies in its revelation that, with rare exceptions, sequences depicting the stars in the cinema have been the domain not of photography but of animation, artistic interpretation, and various kinds of special effects. ★ not only evokes the wonder of gazing at the heavens, but also reveals how its depiction in the cinema is almost necessarily a matter of imaginative reconstruction, opening a space even in the most literal-minded films for creative expression.
If ★’s gaze is perpetually outward, away from the earth, it sheds as much light on matters political, social, cultural, and historical as celestial. The sequences Lurf has gathered together have a fascinating story to tell about the gradual shifting of mores, intellectual and artistic ideas, gender codes, and technological tools.
Designed to be comprehensive and ever-expanding, ★ is more in the nature of a compendium than a completed artistic project. More importantly, it’s a film of exhilarating thematic richness that’s open to an almost unlimited range of interpretations. Appropriately for a film that focuses its attention on the heavens, ★ contains multitudes.
Jed Rapfogel, Anthology Film Archives in August 2018

Viennese filmmaker Johann Lurf has built a considerable reputation internationally, thanks to a succession of striking shorts in a structuralist vein that investigate film and space often through found-footage moving image. His first feature-length work ★ is a scintillating, monumental development of this tendency, a brilliantly edited compilation of shots of the night sky, lifted from 550 films from the beginning of cinema history right up to the present, and from all around the world, ordered chronologically with original soundtrack (including dialogue) and picture format intact.
It is a beautifully simple idea, but expansive and multilayered in the actual viewing, a profoundly involving, immersive, resonant experience. On one level, ★ offers the straightforward pleasure of outright surrender to the onward rush and flow of sounds and visual sensations, with the occasional tingle of recognition - but the cumulative impact of this multitudinous assemblage inevitably prompts more analytical musings on the stars and the universe as imaginative constructs, figured differently according to national context and epoch, and their primal role as locus for our projected fears and fantasies.
The film will remain forever unfinished, since Lurf plans to add further clips as new films get made, or older ones resurface; like some ever-expanding archive of our desires, ambitions, wonderment, imagination, the cosmos in ★ is truly infinite.
Matthew Barrington, Essay Film Festival London in March 2018

A session devoted to the sky and to research into light, with abstract images of reflections and flashes of light, constellations, stars and galaxies.
To an observer, a flash of light in the dark would draw a kind of constantly moving arabesque that catches their eye. It does not take much more to realise what cinema is: perhaps just a projector running in a dark hall or the projection of the two films that make up this session: Lights, by António Palolo, and ★, by Lurf, where abstract images and research into light are followed by figurations of the sun, constellations, stars and galaxies. (...)
Then the film ★, by the Austrian filmmaker and projectionist Johann Lurf, materially presents the stars represented in the night skies of many films in the history of the cinema. It is a chronological review of the representation of the starry skyscape throughout over one hundred years of cinema, from silent films to other more recent ones of a variety of genres, not just science fiction, that have paused to observe the sky.
Gloria Vilches for the CCCB Barcelona in April 2018

Jury Statement, Diagonale Prize for Innovative Cinema 2018:
In his vertiginous, colossal work, ★, Johann Lurf gathers together imagery from no less than 550 films throughout the history of cinema, extracting only those sequences that depict the star-filled nighttime sky, unobscured by any terrestrial element. The resulting cinematic journey of more than 99 minutes is truly transcendental.
With the soundtrack edited in sync with the imagery, ★ is as much a sonic collage as a visual one, conjuring up an entire world of off-screen space and narrative traces. But if ★’s gaze is perpetually outward, away from the earth, it sheds as much light on matters political, social, cultural, and historical as celestial. The sequences Lurf has gathered together have a fascinating story to tell about the gradual shifting of human perspectives, intellectual and artistic ideas, gender codes, and technological tools.
The film reveals the astonishing range of methods filmmakers have used to depict the nighttime sky. Part of the poetry of ★ lies in its revelation that, despite its ubiquity in our daily lives and collective imagination, the stars elude photographic representation – their depiction in the cinema is almost necessarily a matter of imaginative reconstruction, opening a space even in the most literal-minded films for creative expression.
A film whose apparent minimalism functions as a portal to a great richness and invites profound contemplation, ★ takes its place within the glorious tradition of experimental found footage films, following in the footsteps of pioneers like Adrian Brunel, Henri Stork, the French lettrists, and Bruce Conner. With this film Lurf joins the firmament of the great contemporary masters of the genre, such as Volker Schreiner, Matthias Muller, Christoph Girardet, Gustav Deutsch, and Christian Marclay, to name a few.
Designed to be as comprehensive and ever-expanding as possible, ★ is more in the nature of a compendium than a fixed artistic product. It is a work of exhilarating thematic complexity, open to an almost unlimited range of interpretations. Appropriately for a film that focuses its attention on the heavens, ★ contains multitudes.
Christophe Bichon (Collection Manager, Light Cone, FR)
Jed Rapfogel (Film Programmer, Anthology Film Archives, US)
Kate Strain (Künstlerische Leiterin, Grazer Kunstverein, IE)

A work in progress, ★ is the result of a long editing process through which experimental and prolific Austrian director Johann Lurf has patiently searched for, cut and compiled all the shots of starry skies in films, from Méliès all the way to today. The outcome is an interstellar journey through times, landscapes and languages, and through cinema of course. Lurf answers Kant’s injunction “The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me” by spangling our souls with stars as well.
Jean-Pierre Rehm, FID Marseille in July 2018

Our first encounter with the work of Johann Lurf on the big screen literally swept us off our feet. Taking the vertigo effect, popularised by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo (1958), as his starting point, Lurf’s Vertigo Rush (2007) pushed the film medium to the limits, transposing the spectators into a new dimension of reality – with an obligatory nod to the history of cinema.
Eleven years later, Lurf is making us lose our ground again. His debut feature ★ is fully composed of scenes of the sky, the way directors, cinematographers, sound engineers, special and visual effect artists have envisaged it since 1905 until this day. In a chronological order and painstakingly edited to exclude the portrayals of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial creatures, spaceships, satellites, film titles and credits, these simulations of the firmament, flickering stars and milky nebulas under the disguise of fantasy and escapism in fact speak of us – our hopes, desires, loneliness, curiosity, fear and awe we feel when we turn our gaze to the uncharted vastness around and inside us.
The materials were taken from live action, experimental and animated films, and and in the years to come, Lurf's film will keep expanding with new footage, just like the universe it depicts. English and German create a dialogue with Russian and Japanese, melodrama mix with sci-fi, black and white with colour, academy format with cinemascope, primitive scale-models with contemporary computer animation, the silence of silent film with immersion of surround sound, and analogue film with digital video. The current 99 minutes of Lurf’s ★ therefore present a star-spangled history of cinema. From the alluring colour scheme of Ophüls’s Lola Montès (1955), to the bittersweet musicality of Chazelle’s La La Land (2016), to the pioneering special effects of Gaston Velle, to Christopher Nolan’s contemporary computer wonders, ★ is an ode to the magic of film and the fools whose dreams add new stars to the expanding stretch of the cinematic sky.
25FPS Zagreb in September 2018

Johann Lurf’s ★ has a straightforward but ambitious premise: take excerpts from films that feature a starlit sky and stitch them together chronologically. Unlike Christian Marclay’s The Clock, Lurf doesn't allow for any sort of figure-ground relationship to develop between sky and non-sky; our eyes stay glued to the cosmos. As such, no quasi-narrative develops as we jump from one clip to the next. Instead, the images provide an observation on the technological advancements that have occurred throughout the past century of film. What becomes increasingly clear as the film goes on is that despite these changes, the stars have remained a constant source of inspiration for both filmmakers and their characters.
Lurf is wise to exclude all subtitles and to leave the original soundtrack of each film intact. These decisions work to home in our focus on the stars alone: the former dissuades viewers from being too distracted by the dialogue, while the latter forces viewers to be acutely aware of the countless number of films used. Still, Lurf is aware of how repetitious ★ can seem, and he attempts to circumvent potential tedium via thoughtful editing. Rapid-fire cuts occasionally provide lively plunderphonics, and they're as moving as when dialogue or songs (such as Kenji Sawada's "ヤマトより愛をこめて") are left to play out. The editing often proves humorous as well, perhaps best exemplified by the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan clip. We hear the famous "Where no man has gone before" speech coupled with triumphant music, and the shot conveys to the audience that the starship Enterprise is moving forward, into the depths of space. It abruptly cuts to a silent clip that features the camera zooming out, away from the stars: a perfect deadpan joke.
★ begins with Rêve à la lune (1905) and concludes with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Over 500 films are accounted for between these two, and Lurf hopes to add even more in years to come. Since ★ is an endless project, there's no need to give it a firm sense of closure, which is why the film's ending is decidedly unceremonious. It's a lofty goal, but the Wendy Carlos songs that accompany the credits are a playful reminder of how joyous it can be to create art. She once stated that a "nice blend of prediction and surprise seem to be at the heart of the best art.” Lurf seems to agree, and sees the cosmos as having the same qualities.
Joshua Minsoo Kim in Tone Glow on October 30 2018

Charting the Illusory Sky
Austrian filmmaker Johann Lurf plots a course through space and time — at the movies.
Specifying “the only title of this film is ★, and not Star, (Star), Star-Film, ‘*’, Star Symbol…or any other verbal form,” Austrian director Johann Lurf establishes the rigor and abstraction of his latest work with one neat Unicode requirement. A formal exercise taking on the eternity of the cosmos through a time-bound human lens, ★ is an ongoing history of cinematic starry skies.
Despite Lurf’s insistence that “the film is not a lullaby,” I found myself becoming drowsy throughout his plotless marvel. Not because the film was dull, but an expansive take on something so grand as the heavens might be too much for any individual to process. ★ is a draining experience in the best way possible, a constellation of views impossible for earthbound mortals, and imperceptible even in movies without Lurf’s intervention.
Like its namesake, ★ is coalesced from the cosmic dust of predecessors, over 550 films with a heavy emphasis on commercial and art house features. The clips are edited together without further manipulation, Lurf’s hard cuts undermining the grandeur and gimmick of Hollywood both as obviously and as unobtrusively as possible. Pushing time only forward — sometimes in jarring bursts, remixing credit sequences into jagged stutters by removing anything uncelestial — the sense of movement created is delightsome, with the frame wheeling around, zooming forward, often gently floating.
After a while, expectation for the camera to eventually land on “real” action gives way to the disorientation of actual outer space, where all points are equally distant, no focus, no fixed objects, including the audience’s POV. The many star fields breezing by like highway landscape were always cinematic illusion — actual stars are so distant parallax motion wouldn’t be visible save at near-light speeds — but the breakneck whiplash of Lurf’s sequencing highlights the surreality of what audiences took for granted as night sky.
Supercut is the term recently bestowed on re-edited and remixed films; like ★ they pick an entry point into the vast body of cinema and fixate. In the best, stacked illusions build up a new and different truth; many just identify and call out tired tropes. The genre’s subdivided between what could be termed collage films, which root through the toy box of Hollywood or other archives to cobble together, if not a new narrative, then a new connection between existing images (such as Anti-Banality Union’s 2014 State Of Emergence, which recasts Hollywood disaster porn as societal death wish), and formalist exercises where strict adherence to rules renders narrative impotent, but frees something new from the medium. Some, like ★, are also living objects, modified as time passes and growing with the seventh art.
A vast cinematic arena
Testament to Austrian appreciation for ideas as their own currency, Lurf says, “there is funding even for this niche of films as well as a professional distributor for those works, resulting in an extremely effective system of support for production and distribution — meaning freedom of expression as well as display of work on a national and international level. The financial footprint for the state is extremely small but the cultural output at the same time very strong — a good deal for both sides!”
Austria is a country with over a century of rich film history. Lacking national subsidies or an internal new wave or neorealist movement like the ones invigorating other European countries, the popular film industry became moribund through the 1960s, with even fewer experimental films created — those became television’s turf.
By 1981 the government began subsidizing films, just in time for 36-year-old Lurf to reap a full lifetime of cultural benefits. By his own account, his country imbued him with an appreciation for film. “Being raised in Vienna definitely had an influence, with regular screenings of experimental cinema at the Filmmuseum, lots of screenings on 16mm, 35mm, and 70mm. The Academy of Fine Arts and its theoretical courses were always mind-opening.”
Slipping the surly bonds
The average American doesn’t consider the trove of Hollywood-created content as cultural birthright, which is bizarre considering these films form a hefty chunk of our modern mythology; even those who don’t go to movies experience them through social osmosis. The films making up ★, many taking as much manpower and effort to create as Stonehenge or the Pyramids, belong not to people, but corporations — abstract yet legally concrete entities with lock-tight claims over material woven into the shared fabric of human experience. We’ve become so beaten down by these fictional entities’ reign that the idea that these films are our history, let alone ours to utilize, rarely if ever occurs to us.
Lurf does the favor of giving us a chunk of our culture back, making ★ feel cozily familiar and extremely weird to watch, identifiable moments striking nostalgic chords even as there’s a sense of breaking taboo. ★ does more than unlock American films, it also shines light into inaccessible corners of global film history, hidden not by commercial greed but academic triage.
“I was lucky to participate in an Artist-In-Residence in Tokyo for three months so I could research extensively there,” Lurf says. “I was also able to visit a number of film archives with my budget as well as scanning scenes in 16mm and 35mm — but as that process is very time and money extensive I was only able to scan as the budget would last.”
Looking to the skies
Though well-supported, Lurf’s scope was as vast as his subject; unsurprisingly money ran out long before his survey was complete, though that hasn’t slowed him down. “Of course I will continue on my own and with the good-will of filmmakers, film archives, and others who share the enthusiasm for my project; sometimes I am lucky to get material from a restoration process that is done anyway — each film excerpt has its own story [of] how I managed to get it.”
As new movies enter the world, ★ will gradually expand “like the universe itself,” Lurf says. His refusal to use shoddier copies of older films, lest there be a false comparison in quality across time, means there’s plenty of room to expand through the past, should archival work keep apace. In the meantime ★ Version MMIX — MMXVIII, its current 100-minute iteration, is to film history as the stars above are to the universe — a mere fraction of the visible whole, but dazzling to behold.
Danielle Burgos for The End Run, November 2018

#3 The supercut to end all supercuts, Johann Lurf’s Star is a chronological montage of starfields and the night sky culled from thousands of films made around the world from 1905 to 2017. Though there are occasional voices, there are no people, places, or things on-screen other than stars and the occasional other celestial object. Sometimes immersive and sometimes looking like shiny dots on a studio ceiling, Star is an unmissable journey through a very specific sector of cinema history — and one that’s almost as difficult to find as the real stars in the night sky above San Francisco.
The 10 Best Movies of 2018, Sherilyn Connelly for SF Weekly in December 19th 2018

★: Johann Lurf’s Cinema of Attractions
Borrowing from over 550 films, Johann Lurf’s essay film ★ observes the starry night sky’s various representations throughout cinematic history. Of course, the contradiction is that, although cinema ontologically owes its form to light, these images are for the large part constructed artificially, ranging from crude star-shapes exposed onto film to vividly complex CGI nebulas. Watching these myriad stars is a reminder of cinema’s ability to produce spectacle; something underlined by the film’s credit sequence, which plays a computerised take on vaudeville music, recalling cinema’s formative appearance within variety shows at the turn of the 20th Century.
Early cinematic productions eagerly experimented with technological advancements and photographic techniques, solidifying what Tom Gunning refers to as “the cinema of attractions” (Gunning, 1986); cinema as a series of spectacles inciting curiosity. From spectacles emerge familiar images; tropes and trends. ★ observes how those relating to the stars have flourished and persevered, and how others have only appeared in passing. When hand-tinting became a valuable cinematic technique, allowing films to incorporate colour associations into their visual language, blue was used to indicate coldness or the change from day to night (Yumibe, 2015). A blue tint is utilised in a scene from Gaston Velle’s Voyage autour d’une étoile (A Voyage Around a Star) (1906) where a group of women peer through star-shaped holes in the set, signifying the wonders of the universe. ★’s examples are sequenced chronologically, meaning that the clip’s early appearance in the film establishes a visual thread. As the clear majority of the following clips use blue in some manner – either colouring the stars themselves or appearing as background gradients and hues at varying degrees – there’s a sense that this thread can be followed back to the cinema of attractions.
Other tropes and trends appear more fleetingly: there’s a burst of hard rock music, an intermittent patter of existential monologues and observations, and a wide range of camera movements varying in speed. What soon emerges is a sense of instability; a feeling that visual culture’s oft-outdated pieces of debris are negating visual and audible coherency across the cinematic timeline, despite the shared goal of portraying the stars. The same goes for certain technological leaps: an example from one of the Star Trek films, identified by its monologue and soundtrack, presents a level of polish and depth that goes unmatched for some time.
In turn, Lurf’s ability to observe the unsteadiness of a seemingly unified image is exactly what makes watching ★ so rewarding. There’s the universally recognisable sci-fi’s – the Star Wars and the Star Treks - and arthouse gems such as Leos Carax’s Boy Meets Girl (1984), but there’s also stoner comedies like Dude Where’s My Car? (2000), coming-of-age comedies such as Mystic Pizza (1988) and anime including Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001). Collated without bias and sans any discussion of critical or commercial success, the film’s selection of clips is so broad that the experience of noting their familiarity is entirely subjective to each viewer. And just when you think you’ve deduced your whereabouts on the cinematic timeline, a recognisable score abruptly corrects you.
When Thom Andersen presented his structuralist revaluation of Hollywoodian depictions of Los Angeles in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) it was a bold example of the essay film form’s ability to deconstruct popular culture whilst jointly recognising our immersion within it. The same observation can be applied to ★, though the chosen visual topic encourages becoming lost in thought, and Lurf’s decision to forego having a voiceover or any text-based attribution heightens this. The night sky starts to feel like a surface; sometimes impenetrable, sometimes malleable, teasing the mind to make whatever tangible associations it can. This allows ★ to become a truly participatory experience, saying as much about our expectations of visual culture as it does the various technological advancements that cinema has used to fuel spectacle.
Gunning, T., 1986. The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde. Wide Angle, 8(¾), p. 86.
Yumibe, J., 2015. The Phantasmagoria of the First Hand-Painted Films: How the silent screen burst to life with color.
Andrew Northrop for the Essay Film Festival, March 2018

Take a journey through the stars, in this ever-growing experimental work from filmmaker Johann Lurf. Compiled completely from film scenes of the night sky, this debut feature does not use a story or characters but instead playfully edits the scenes together—some movies more obvious in their origin than others—in an international history-of-cinema told through the constellations. Reminiscent of Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), ★ transforms into a greater romantic journey through space that is both impressive and mesmerizing.
San Francisco International Film Festival, March 2018

Since time immemorial, humankind has gazed with awe upon the stars painting the night sky. Austrian director Johann Lurf explores how cinema has captured this cosmic tapestry, cutting together over a century of film starscapes in an ethereal documentary at once minimalist and majestic.
In the cinematic universe, a starry sky is something to stare at while dreaming of being somewhere else. According to Jiminy Cricket, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you. It's no wonder that soon after the birth of cinema, filmmakers were trying to capture the night sky. The thing is, stars don't photograph all that well, so most of the images that contain them are animated in some way or another. For ★, structural filmmaker Johann Lurf collected all the filmed images of starscapes he could find from high quality sources and assembled them in chronological order, rejecting the clips that had trees or people or spaceships or text. The result is a hypnotic journey through film history starting in 1905 and going all the way through 2017. The earliest clips are silent, of course, but as we travel through time (and space) we see the advances of the cinematic form as the images expand, gain color, and hand-drawn animation becomes computer generated. He also keeps the sound from the clips, which go from silent to mono to stereo to surround sound, and start and stop in random spots, blaring music or narration or nothing at all. It's a supercut of starry skies that's perfect for the dreamer in all of us.
Seattle International Film Festival, May 2018

A literal night at the movies, Johann Lurf's ★ is a cosmic trip through film history. Lurf and his team combed through thousands of films in search of frames featuring only stars and nothing else-no people, no spaceships, no credits, no Martians-and assembled the results in chronological order, with the original sound intact. It may sound serene and contemplative, but because many of these celestial images are a mere split second long, ★ is a surprisingly fast-paced, even kinetic cinematic experience, psychedelic to the core. Starfields rapidly rearrange themselves in opening credit sequences stripped of their text, while the accompanying orchestral score is spliced into abstraction. Stray snatches of dialogue appear as non-sequiturs, alternately hilarious, profound, or both, occasionally even outing their source material. Telescoping back to the silent era up through films released just a few months ago, ★ draws from over 550 films from across the planet, constellating everything from sci-fi blockbusters to avant-garde shorts: eagle-eyed WFF veterans can look out for a few night skies they might've seen before. Lurf's star-studded collage is also a heavenly catalog of film stocks and styles, charting the evolution of all manner of film technology-special effects, surround sound, aspect ratios-while you space out in your seat. 2018 Sundance, Rotterdam Film Festivals.
Wisconsin Film Festival, April 2018

Johann Lurf’s found footage film Star, in the own style of its author, could be read as a structural essay about cinematic experience and it’s influences in our visual imaginary conscience. This film remind me of what Alexander Kluge’s describes in his book “120 cinema stories”, about the relationship paleolithic men might had with the night sky full of stars, as an spectacle of cinematic light, that are an analogy for cinematic experience. The stars are made of gas, and the light they irradiates have traveled to earth for 4 years at least, so what we get to see is a kind of projection of something that is in constant movement and it’s already gone. Doesn’t sound familiar to what we experience in a movie theater?
Instead of just embarking us in a voyage through space, Lurf composes a visual and sound rhythmic mosaic that reveals the diverse version of our galaxy through out the years. We start with celluloid artisan representations of constellations, to then experience modern representations that are related to science fiction and scientific researches. We get invited to examine the spectrum of our imaginary about the Universe we live in, and how it have been built through different audiovisual productions. The sound composition plays an important role, since some of the images could be recognized by the dialogues and the music that Lurf decided to keep but with a design.
The richness and beauty of this film resides in the mirror it becomes to our imagination as a main source for our conscience, and how cinema have shaped human being’s mind and our historical archive. As a technology, its evolution obviously influenced our galaxy’s simulacrum, and the special effects have tried to create an extra-terrestrial experience. The size of the movie theater screen projection and the new digital formats, present a wider image that embraces our eyes and bodies. Is interesting how Lurf decides to play with those changes too, as an index of our new conscience, by comparing the different ones we could find until now. Likewise, the distinction is not only based in the new technologies that surround us, but is also showed culturally. During the film, on can recognize descriptions in Japanese, German, English, etc., and pay attention to the differences between them, and also measure when an image is related more to science than to fiction cinema. Star is more a social and historical essay film than only a galactic cinematic experience.
Found footage movies could be sources for a mediation of the different significations that human beings have developed through out the time since the invention of cinematic moving images. The archive work that it implies, is of historical relevance too. Lurf’s work stands out for his focus in the mainstream film found footage as well, as unmistakable influences in our life, and as the most popular conceptions for the experience of cinema.
Ivonne Sheen, desistfilm, March 23rd 2018

At the moment that Austrian filmmaker Johann Lurf (1982) shows his first feature film ★ at various film festivals in Europe, after its premiere at Sundance, OFFoff and BOZAR organize a retrospective of his work. A student of Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts, Lurf graduated in 2009 in Harun Farocki's filmclass. In his films, cinematographic and urban spaces reinforce each other so that you can experience a purely cinematic reality and a pure landscape at the same time. ★ has as its subject the stars of cinema, literally then. From more than 500 films, Lurf captured the starry skies and edited them in a row to create a one-and-a-half-hour reflection on cinema and the night in films. The original soundtracks of the fragments form together the soundtrack of ★ and are the only link to the original, 'real' setting of these stars.
Godart Bakkers for BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts Brussels in February 2018

Johann Lurf is one of a kind, an experimentalist, a dreamer, a movie buff, a romantic in search of forensic traces, perhaps a little reclusive. His cinematographic short-film etudes, such as VERTIGO RUSH, 12 EXPLOSION or his fascinating, ever-circling, globally Austrian film panorama about roundabouts, KREIS WR.NEUSTADT, challenged standard ways of perception, putting them up for discussion and reflection, infinitely. His next step comes as little surprise: the universe. “I started experimenting eight years ago, and now the film is finally ready for screening. I was longing for 90 minutes of images of the night sky throughout the entire history of film, original length, format, sound. So many languages, perspectives, hopes. The age-old gaze into the sky. Dreamt, photographed, virtually pure cinéma vérité.” Lurf’s film is a pandemonium of the most beautiful and the saddest dreams, a ballet of brightly lit gas clouds, a symphony of human fears and rescue fantasies. Not just film historians, astronomers, polyglots, we all have every reason to look forward to it. To dreaming, to soaring, floating, earthily.
Viennale in October 2017

With a title that isn’t even a word, but the symbol ★, this was a daring experiment that reminded me of Douglas Gordon’s art installation 24 Hour Psycho. Director Johann Lurf has compiled 90 minutes of clips of the night sky as seen in films throughout the history of cinema – not just science fiction, but any and every film that has taken time out for a whimsical look at the stars. There are clips with dialogue, in many different languages, and clips without, shots of the stars moving away from the camera and towards it, the occasional shooting star or interstellar event, long clips and jump cuts, the tone switching between cheesy, jokey, bombastic, eerie and profound. At times it feels as though we're watching a diminishing return, yet it’s impossible to pull away.
A little like the universe itself, ★ looks like it will continually expand, as Lurf intends to add to his film yearly. It would be quite a cute idea for future directors of the Viennale to feature every new version.
Demetrios Matheou on theartsdesk.com November 7th 2017

This year's intergalactic film trip! Starry skies from several hundred films assembled in one long, mind-expanding experience in a film for true film fans.
Pictures of starry skies from several hundred films edited together to one long cosmic total experience. This, quite simply, is the recipe for Johann Lurf's latest opus. A simple idea, but a mind-expanding experience of intergalactic dimensions, which must be seen in the cinema. From Georges Méliès's space adventure in the late 19th century via Soviet science fiction to 'Star Wars' and all the way to today. More than anything, Lurf's film is a work about the night sky as the ultimate canvas, which imaginative filmmakers – and their audiences – have been projecting their dreams onto for 120 years. In fact, it is only recently that we have developed a camera technology that is sensitive enough to reproduce the light of stars on film. Virtually all the skies we see here are created in special effects studios, and Lurf's film forms a catalogue of how creative filmmakers have imagined the infinite universe. Therefore, it makes sense that Lurf's own film is basically infinite: Over the coming years, even more recent clips will be added to the already overwhelmingly original work.
CPH:DOX in March 2018

A screening of an eye-catching film by Austrian filmmaker Johann Lurf, compiled of shots of the night sky weaved together from movies through the history of cinema, will take place on May 18 at 5pm and 9pm.
Hind Mezaina for the Louvre Abu Dhabi 2018 اللوفر أبوظبي

Science fiction with the boring bits left out. Johann Lurf reconstructs the universe by stripping Hollywood product of the generic narratives that propel mass consumption filmmaking to the heavens in order to focus on the stars themselves. In other words, a montage of voids: only moments of emptiness, of white specks against infinite dark remain. Though an avant-gardist himself, Lurf seems sincere in his desire to engage with popular cinema; he surely could have scrounged up a few more images from the likes of Jordan Belson or Stan Brakhage to include here, but he largely restricts himself to the kinds of movies that draw a crowd—or at least were intended to. He somehow mines wonder from Howard the Duck, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The trajectory from Man Ray to Marvel suggests a real traversal of aesthetic boundaries, and not just of cinematic time, and the final effect of seeing so much discarded matter bent, almost accidentally, into something beautiful is a little like watching light escape a black hole: the rational mind says it shouldn’t work, but it sure is a sight to behold.
Evan Morgan, Seattle Screen Scene June 2nd 2018

“* by Johann Lurf is a particular highlight,” Hind Mezaina says. “It’s a 99-minute film that’s a compilation of shots of the night sky from 550 films. The film will keep growing in length – it will remain ‘forever unfinished’ as more clips will get added to it. “It will be like a stargazing exercise inside the auditorium,” she says, noting that the film should be written with the star symbol rather than the word “star”. The film’s selection was inspired by an astrolabe by 18th-century Moroccan explorer Muhammed ibn Ahmad Al-Batttuti, though, as the audience files out of the auditorium, Jean Nouvel’s starry dome might put a strong case for new credit.
Melissa Gronlund on June 9th in The National, Cinem’Art: Louvre Abu Dhabi launches first film programme

Space, the final frontier. The infinite expanses of outer space have attracted the gaze of the human being since the beginning of time. We have seen the moon as a woman, or as the face of a man. Some have believed that one star led the way to the crib of the redeemer, others that there is an amniotic sac somewhere out there containing an enormous Star Child. Some see the actions of cosmic forces in the constellations, some expect little green men to arrive from the red planet. Spaceships, accompanied by the tunes of waltzes, make their way through this all-encompassing object of longing, where nobody can hear you scream; in response, the universe exclaims all the more loudly that it is infinite, that we are finite, and that everything between us is nothingness. These are just a few of the associations that the experimental filmmaker Johann Lurf – who was born in 1982 in Vienna and trained at the city’s academy of fine arts – explores in his found footage film . He has done so by compiling the film images that we human beings have created of the starry sky, from silent film set pieces to modern-day special effects. Sometimes we progress at breakneck speed-of-light, sometimes we float gently and weightlessly through space in this virtuoso, enlightening and funny journey through the imagination, which brings together the light of the world and the light of the screen.
Bildrausch Filmfest Basel June 2018

The starry sky has been looking down on film characters since the very beginning of cinema. Meanwhile, Austrian artist Johann Lurf arranges historical shots of the night sky chronologically, creating an extraordinary atlas of stars. Lurf's intricate film is a cosmic journey through space-time. He shows cinema's fixation on the cosmos and the range of emotions it has aroused in both characters and viewers: from fear and delight in the first silent films, through hope and the arrogance of the conquerors of the cosmos, to melancholy and finally absolute silence. The constellations shown in the film are accompanied by an original soundtrack: ambient noise and large orchestral pieces, as well as pedantic explanations and dreamy speculations. The night sky in film is filled with countless languages, perspectives and hopes. The film evokes the most beautiful and saddest moments in cinema; it is a symphony of humanity's nocturnal fears and silent hopes. ★ is a film for hopeless dreamers, amateur astrologers and the lovestruck.
Ewa Szabłowska, New Horizons Festival Wrocław in July 2018

★: The Johann Lurf Interview
Johann Lurf stands alongside such auteurs as Guy Maddin, György Pálfi and Christian Marclay as one the world’s great cinematic ‘constructuralists’; filmmakers that build monumental montage movies, reconfiguring frames from hours of other artist’s footage into new and beautiful film visions. His latest is ★, a breathtaking collage of night skies, galaxies and deep-space starfields sourced from over 550 films, dating from the silent film era until mid-2018. “Your audience is getting 115 years of cinematic history in 95 minutes, which should not seem daunting at all,” jokes the Viennese filmmaker, who spoke to SCREEN-SPACE from Munich ahead of his film’s Australian Premiere at the Opening Night of Sydney’s SciFi Film Festival…
SCREEN-SPACE: How do you define the artistry of the great cinema montage? It is a good period for the constructuralist movement, with films like Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog (2017) and György Pálfi’s Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012) finding festival exposure and critical acclaim. Where does the power lie in a good montage film?
Lurf: It lies in its complexity. There are many different aspects that you can highlight with a simple idea, with the concept of pieces or segments of films pieced together. In the case of The ★ Film, it is an easy to explain concept, but then it opens up and there are many aspects that you have to compare. There are the visual layers, then the fantasy and the romanticism of the single clips, but then the audio provides more historical contextualization. You can also begin to see how the stars were being used by the mechanics of cinema and what they are representing. The great montage film makes us focus not only on a specific element or theme, but also helps us understand a ‘meta-layer’, something that we as a society or as humans have in common. Like Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), which is clearly not just about a clock but is about us, the human race.
SCREEN-SPACE: ★ has no narrative structure and no traditional human connection on-screen, yet it is an engaging, often very emotional film-watching experience. What is your theory of why it has connected with audiences so universally?
Lurf: When you see an image or hear a sound, it takes you only a split-second to interpret it. When we are immersed and engaged by a film, we do that for every second of the experience. We understand which emotion the character is experiencing, regardless of whether they are a man or woman or kid or Japanese or whatever, when they experiencing something sad or profound or adoring, we share that. Our senses are so acutely trained to read images, sound, language, it is impossible to escape being influenced. The machine of cinema we are sitting in is perfectly designed to affect our senses, so the basis for an emotional connection is already there. And then you have the range of images in the film, the language and the music, which build upon that.
SCREEN-SPACE: The vastness of space and the confines of a cinema are both essentially deep, dark voids illuminated by millions of points of light. Your film bridges those voids, it’s fair to say…
Lurf: I’ve never heard it described in such a great way as you’ve described it just now (laughs). I definitely see them as very much connected. The predecessor of cinema is the night sky itself; for the many thousands of years that humans have been looking at the night sky, they have been looking at a very similar image as modern audiences do with cinema. It is a three-dimensional space represented in a two-dimensional way, like how a picture is recorded by a camera. The night sky is moving, but you can’t see it moving, so you have this contradiction, whereas cinema is the other way around – frames, moments captured in time, that are still images but that appear to be moving. But we can look at both and contemplate what we see and what they mean to us. Another similarity is that you look into many different pasts when you look into the night sky – some of the stars are already dead, others are still shining. Staring at the stars is like entering a warped sense of time, pasts that we are able observe, and cinema can do that as well.
SCREEN-SPACE: You set yourself and adhere to very strict artistic guidelines in ★…
Lurf: The work I’ve done before – my shorts, the found-footage or researched-footage films – I utilize the ‘hard cut’ because it is an intervention that is clearly the artist’s choice, or my choice. At the same time, it doesn’t modify the source the material, meaning I don’t have to remove something from the image or slow down the footage or anything like that. I merely accentuate through editing, which for me is the most respectful way to use other artist’s work. It is a hard intrusion into the original work, but it can only be read as my act of selecting and cutting. The material should speak by itself, without me being too didactic or offering too much commentary, because I always love to have my audience interpret, or misinterpret, what they see. Misinterpretation is an impressive creative moment, because it means you have to ask yourself, ‘What am I not understanding here?’ It forces you to re-engage, to get closer to the work. I think those moments are the most inspiring that you can have in a cinema.
SCREEN-SPACE: You have cited the starscape in Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli as the starting point for your fascination with the cinematic night sky. Is their a starfield in your film that you recall as being the most beautiful, perhaps your favourite?
Lurf: Actually, I try not to think in terms of what is ‘the best’ or apply some kind of superlative. In fact, I love more than 90% of the starry nights in the film and I don’t want to compare them to each other; they are so different to one another, it is impossible to judge whether any one is better or worse. Some have fantastic audio, or one looks great, or one might create a floating sensation.
SCREEN-SPACE: Are you dodging the question because your favourite is, in fact, 'Dude Where’s My Car?'
Lurf: (Laughs) No, I’m dodging the question for conceptual reasons. To pick one or two or a Top Ten out of the film would be to assign other clips a lesser quality, which I can’t do.
SCREEN-SPACE: Did you foresee the film travelling as extensively as it has?
Lurf: I had no idea how people would react to this film, so that they are reacting at all and with such enthusiasm is very pleasing. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be in Sydney for the screening; I’ve just come from Ireland, and today I’m in Munich, and next week I’m in Norway and then I’ve two screenings in Spain, then back to Italy. It has been quite crazy what is happening with the film and it makes it me very happy.
Simon Foster for Screen-Space October 13th 2018

My God, it’s Full of Stars
We have been to the edge of the cinematic universe together more than once, haven’t we? We have pinched shut our noses against the stench and filth of Aleksey German’s Hard to be a God with its very own weird cinematic language and drab medieval sci-fi outlook on life. We have waded through the seven-hour long Satantango, Bela Tarr’s masterpiece, puzzled by the fact that we didn’t know what the hell was going on. Both movies might take huge liberties in storytelling: they seem to redefine or even abuse the notions we have of plot, story, or dialogue. German’s movies pretend that they have never heard of a reaction shot. There are whole takes that seem to go against anything that we seem to have learned about cinematic grammar, but no matter how shrewd or outlandish those movies might get, they still are – movies.
And sometimes we cross the border from cinema into the experimental. You can, of course, draw the line somewhere else, but to me, Johann Lurf’s Star is no longer a movie. Star is not even its proper title; it has a pentagonal black star as its title, the star you get from Unicode Character (U+2605). I am not technically proficient at displaying the proper title here; go and google the title if you like. I am going to use the word instead of the symbol to keep this post readable.
So now then, what is Star? Lurf is an Austrian video artist and has had the shrewd idea to compile as many scenes as possible from feature movies that contain the sky with its stars, be it made up in any way, or real. He has done so chronologically, with the help of many friends, movie geeks and film archives, and the result is this 99-minute compilation of 553 excerpts of night skies from 1905 until the year of release 2017. Lurf was strict in his search: he cut out any non-astronomical feature, which means you won’t get to see any Millennium Falcon or Cylon or David Bowman. He has, however, left the sound untouched, which leads to the repeated mutilated John Williams score during the credits of Star Wars (all seven of them) without the big names of top billing, so there are split-second time jumps not only in the picture, but also in the sound, and that can get on your nerves. The audience was already small to start with, maybe ten people, and I think that those disjointed bits were the reason for some of the walkouts. A number of scenes were a split-second long, and I remember only one two-minute long sequence of the same galactic cloud while an Asian male voice sang a heartfelt song.
Or maybe it was the total lack of coherent story, dialogue, characters or landscapes that made Star hard to watch. Sometimes the camera was steady, sometimes it travelled at warp speed (remember the zipping blue lines during a hyperspeed jump?). To me, the most entertaining thing during watching Star was to play ‘Guess the Movie’, and sometimes there were moments of surprise, for instance when I realized that the first scene of Beverly Hills Cop started with the night sky. You can also roughly guess in which year we are when the garbled Star Wars theme comes on yet again. It’s a weird thing to watch Alien or Starman without the Alien and without Starman, but then, the whole feature is weird, and the punchline is that there is a trailer for it, when you could virtually take any two minutes out of the movie, and voilà, there’s your trailer.
So what did I take away from Star? It was hard to sit through because of the chopped melody bits and because it’s sort of a completionist’s wet dream: Star could end after five minutes, after twenty minutes, at any point, but no: it has to include as many night skies as possible. You can glean from the program that it’s a 99 minute feature, but you simply don’t know for how long you are watching the scene in front of you. There is no-one and nothing to root for, or to invest your empathy in. It is impossible to marvel at the night sky for 99 minutes, however majestic or infinite or bursting with energy you may find the excerpt in front of you at the moment, because as soon as you want to delve into the sky in front of you, there is another sky, another mood, and your interest seems misplaced, which is a frustrating experience even for a seasoned moviegoer. I admit that I was exhausted when the credits ran, but when I got out, it was already dark, and I had a look at the sky, and it looked similar but excitingly new at the same time.
Mege for A Damn Fine Cup of Culture, October 14th 2018

The film that has gathered the greatest amount of stars in the history of cinema!
A magical compilation film portrays a film history of night sky and is an intriguing study of soundtracks given to stars by human beings struggling with existential solitude in the midst of the universe since the invention of the cinematic apparatus.
From Georges Mélies to contemporary high definition dolby surround experiences, ★ is a voyage in time and space not to miss. The film will have its Finnish premiere in Pori and it will explode Valimo and constitute cosmic scale into the history of the new festival venue.
Pori Film Festival Finland in November 2018

When staring at the evening sky, we revere the stars and try read the future, even if we are aware that the light that reaches us comes from stars that are long gone. A genuinely romantic experimental director (and student of Harun Farocki) seems to have as a starting point this charming paradox, as he attempts to imprint on the film’s photosensitive emulsion the movement of the stars in the skies. A sensual anatomy of the medium’s typical attribute – the dialogue between the rays of light and the palpable darkness in the cinematic apparatus – that takes us to another dimension, on the cinema’s eternal star boulevard.
Thessaloniki International Film Festival November 2018

Have you ever noticed how many flicks have a passing, momentary or even not insignificant shot of the starry sky overlaid with dialogue, anticipation, or perhaps nothing at all? Have you taken those scenes for granted? Not any more.
Johann Lurf’s ‘Star,’ not the title, the symbol, not to be confused with the wholly different A Star Is Born, also in cinemas today, is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. A 99-minute montage or compendium if you will of such scenes, Lurf tracks the tradition from it’s earliest days in cinema to the latest, greatest and most iconic moments where the night shined bright from our screens.
Whereas the likes of Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog stitched together scissor-cuts of 100 clips to establish a likeness to Vertigo, Lurf has truly delved into the far-flung corners of cinema and emerged with an overwhelming cast of 550. There are the obvious ones; It’s A Wonderful Life, Star Wars, various iterations of Star Trek, and of course Dude Where’s My Car. It’s quite the pleasure to pick out and on occasion anticipate where Lurf will land on his travels through time; the beginning and end of Roxanne for instance featuring amidst a cavalcade of constellations.
A fascinating experiment, the film will nonetheless feel lengthy at times for those more casually entranced by Lurf’s premise and, having already made an impact in its earlier stages, could just have well have been a stretch shorter. The inclusion of a diverse range of films and sources, including several clearly not produced with English as the key language, enforce the evident universality underpinning Star’s clear and core thematic intentions. The broken, disparate dialogue in these moments however, as with a similar innovation in Maddin’s effort, emerges as more a distraction than conducive to these ends.
An uncommon feature to which it will not be difficult to establish a rhythm for the keen viewer, Lurf’s latest isn’t typical SciFi Film Festival fare but is as intrinsically and, importantly, as idiosyncratically science fiction as anything else on offer.
Glen Falkenstein on FalkenScreen, October 18 2018

Finally, a film starring … stars. Ingeniously conceived and meticulously assembled by Austrian structural filmmaker Johann Lurf, ★ (pronounced “Starfilm”) is an elegant and encyclopedic guide through cinema’s eternal infatuation with the night sky. Culling clips from all 124 years (and counting) of moving image history, Lurf (who had two shorts in last year’s Stereo Visions program at Big Ears) uses a matter-of-fact montage strategy that chronologically shows all of the shots he and his team of researchers could find, telling an endlessly generative story of the evolution of film formats, aesthetics, humanity itself – all by the most minimalist and meditative means.
Heavenly bodies are spliced into and over themselves, one shot indiscriminately jumpcutting into the next, letting the asteroids, planetoids, and myriad constellations immortalized in films by Fritz Lang, Maya Deren, Steven Spielberg, and hundreds of other filmmakers do all the talking. And do be sure to see this cut of the film while you can; Lurf has promised to continue adding on to ★ year by year, letting the piece grow ever-longer as more and more films containing shots of stars are made and released.
Big Ears Festival, The Public Cinema Knoxville, March 2019

'In Sequence of Appearance' features two films by the Austrian artist and filmmaker Johann Lurf. In the main film with the title ★ Lurf created a sequence of starry skies strictly ordered according to the release date of the original films. The film attains a highly immersive quality through motifs and visual language. Lurf confronts the viewer with a continuum of impressive outlooks into an escapist dimension, which gradually and subtly turn the view back onto the viewer; the film thereby reflects histories of reception and ideas in which film, science, and metaphysics flow together.
David Komary, Galerie Stadtpark Krems in April 2019

This year’s Night of Museums, instead of running between institutions, we propose staying at the cinema to watch a starry sky!
The visual essay from the Austrian film director Johann Lurf is a journey through time, space as well as the history of cinema. The artist juxtaposes images of starry skies from early, silent films to the present, creating a somewhat melancholic story about fantasies of escape and dreams of meeting the Other. This cosmic perspective is here connected with a very earthly one. These are human affairs – love, happiness, and tragedies all take place under a common sky. This is a kind of film planetarium—the intricately selected and edited fragments from over half a thousand films are also a statement about cinema itself —the night sky is after all a screen, on which stories appear, sent to us by stars from hundreds of years ago.
U-jazdwoski Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw in May 2019

This evening is given over to an encounter that might be expected at the cinema, a meeting with the stars. The director Johann Lurf who lives and works in Vienna has not pointed the cameras at star actresses, rather he has collected moments in films when the stars in the firmament imprint their light on celluloid. ★ (2017) is the title of the film bringing together cinematographic views looking at the cosmos from throughout the history of cinema, arranged chronologically and accompanied by extracts from sound tapes coming from the same fragments.
50 JPG Triennial Osmoscosmos Genéve in June 2019

Johann Lurf is a filmmaker based in Austria. Lurf has been investigating the history of cinematic images, which have been developing with the progress of industrial technologies, and the inherent political and social implications of the artificial reality generated by such images. ★ is a found footage film composed of a chronological arrangement of scenes that feature the night sky throughout the entire history of cinema. Images featuring the night sky are usually dismissed when watching films. In this work, however, they function as a major medium that leads the viewers to sense the complicatedly interrelated layers inside the images.
As the title indicates, ★ does not have a particular narrative. It describes the history of stars through a classical methodology of montage in which different scenes that realistically and abstractly depict the night sky – the great sky in the night, a shower of meteors, the mysterious galaxy, an explosive flash of light, and the vast universe. Such a unique quality of narrative method leads this work to become a novel space film by depicting the infinite and deep universe of stars in a fantastical and romantic manner while indirectly revealing the social, historical, and cultural layers that are projected in the ways they are depicted through the technological medium of cinema.
The work is composed as a collective of individual clips that maintain their original duration, sound, and format. This primarily shows the shift in the expressive techniques that correspond to the development of techniques and the visual tendencies of different periods. It also reveals the change in the use of sound from the era of silent films to nowadays. However, examining the geological formation of stars goes beyond the objective investigation of historical layers within the history of cinema. The cinematic spacetime – constructed by the harmonious combination of the particular camera movements to capture the mobility of stars, conversational clips in different languages and nuances, and diverse background music scores in different genres – builds a poetic space in which we can reexamine the multiple meanings condensed in the symbolic metaphor of ‘★.’ In cinema, the night sky usually played a variety of roles – symbolizing the passage of time, a transition of events, and specific themes and ideologies. The extracted images of the night sky maintain the faint connection to the films from which they have been taken, leading the viewers to realize the deleted context before and after the excerpted images as well as the potent meanings of the images of the stars by themselves, all from the perspective from the present. This, in turn, provides anticipation for the emergence of an infinite narrative.
★ is a work that expands as new scenes are discovered and added, and this makes it impossible to assume a fixed running time of the chronology. What is interesting in this descriptive method is that it does not formulate a singular linear history but a constellation in which multiple histories occur at the same time. Experiencing the twisted sense of time constructed by representations of the world requires the viewers to look at and think about the gap between what is and what is not clearly perceived. At this point, ★ goes beyond an archive as storage of collecting and recording of images of stars and becomes a social and historical film. ★ discloses how the virtual reality that is staged by artificial actuality, which is produced by technical devices, conspires to work with the human perceptual system, proposing us to promptly reexamine the very present that lies in front of us.
Kim Taein for the exhibition Chroniclers, Outside of Time at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan in September 2019

★ consists of film scenes with starscapes – nothing more, nothing less, and in chronological order. The viewer can approach the film in as many ways as they would greet the actual starry sky: one can either follow larger patterns; try to catch familiar films like shooting stars – or then just lean back and immerse oneself into the meditative infinity of stars. The film keeps expanding like the universe itself, also as the viewers have started to send starry clues to the Austrian filmmaker Johann Lurf. The latest version, screened at Espoo Ciné, includes several starscapes from the Finnish films, old and new, among the multitude of samples from all over the world. ★ shows that the fascination with starscapes is universal.
Tytti Rantanen, Espoo Ciné Internatinoal Film Festival 2021

Film en cours, ★ est le fruit d’un montage où Johann Lurf, cinéaste autrichien expérimental prolixe, a recherché, patiemment, découpé, puis cousu ensemble tous les plans de films où apparaissent un ciel étoilé, depuis Méliès jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Le résultat : un voyage interstellaire au milieu des époques, des pays et des langues aussi, au milieu du cinéma bien sûr. À l’injonction kantienne « La loi morale en moi, le ciel étoilé au-dessus de ma tête », Lurf répond en constellant nos âmes aussi.
Jean-Pierre Rehm, FID Marseille in July 2018

Le pitch : ★ est un montage d’images de cieux étoilés dans de nombreux longs métrages. Pourquoi on l’aime : C’est une expérience cosmique totale en même temps qu’un film sur le cinéma – et l’une des séances les plus singulières de l’année.
Le Polyester Magazine, Dossier 2018 : les 25 meilleurs films inédits en salles

Au moment où le réalisateur autrichien Johann Lurf (1982) présente son premier long métrage ★ dans différents festivals en Europe, après sa première à Sundance, OFFoff et BOZAR organisent une rétrospective de son œuvre. Étudiant à l’Académie des Beaux-Arts de Vienne, Johann Lurf obtient son diplôme en 2009 dans la classe de cinéma de Harun Farocki. Dans ses films, les espaces cinématographiques et urbains se renforcent mutuellement, permettant d’expérimenter une réalité purement cinématique et un paysage pur en même temps. ★ parle des « stars » du cinéma, mais au sens premier : Johann Lurf a capturé dans plus de 500 films des ciels étoilés et les présente en série pour créer une réflexion d’une heure et demie sur le cinéma et la nuit dans les films. Les bandes son originales des fragments forment celle de ★ et constituent le seul lien avec le décor original et « réel » de ces étoiles.
Godart Bakkers for BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts Brussels in February 2018

★ propose une expérience cosmique totale avec un montage d'images de cieux étoilés dans de nombreux longs métrages.
Avec ★ (c'est bien le titre du film, et non pas star ou étoile), le jeune Autrichien Johann Lurf n'en est pas à sa première expérimentation mais c'est la première fois qu'un de ses paris formels s'exprime sur tout un long métrage. ★ dure 90 minutes, mais autant vous prévenir, ce n'est que temporaire : le cinéaste a en effet prévu d'allonger le film au fil du temps - on reviendra très vite sur la raison.
★ est un montage expérimental d'images d'étoiles dans des tonnes et des tonnes de films. Des étoiles vintage, bricolées, animées, disco, réalistes... des cieux à n'en plus finir. Le montage se concentre exclusivement sur ces étoiles: pas de mouvement de caméra vers le sol, pas de plan de coupe sur un visage : la nuit, et les étoiles. "This is the universe. Big, isn't it ? (Ça c'est l'univers. Grand, n'est-ce pas ?) : c'est l'une des répliques off que l'on entend dans ★, un film où l'on entend effectivement beaucoup de choses. Des voix en anglais, en allemand, en russe, en japonais - mais pas de sous-titres. Une musique emphatique, une musique anxiogène, une musique pop, des musiques qui ressemblent à des génériques de fin qui ici n'en finissent pas. Mais aucun autre indice contextuel.
Dans ★, on voit sans cesse la même chose tout en ne voyant jamais la même chose. Il y a un pouvoir de fascination dans cette superbe succession de cieux étoilés. Quelque chose d'hallucinogène également par l'effet de répétition et d'absurdité, proche du VJing quand on scratche promptement d'un film à l'autre comme on passerait d'une station de radio à une suivante. Et lorsqu'on va de 2001, l'odyssée de l'espace à La Soupe aux choux, de Stromboli au Gendarmes et les extraterrestres, de Vaudou à Beyond the Black Rainbow, c'est aussi toute une grande histoire du cinéma que l'on feuillette. Que l'on identifie peu à peu, de manière ludique. Comme indiqué au début de cet article, le réalisateur devrait ajouter de prochaines étoiles car le cinéma ne s'arrêtera pas en si bon chemin. Comme le pouvoir de séduction de cet ovni qui se fraye un chemin pas comme les autres parmi les astres.
Nicolas Bardot, Film de Culte Mars

La tête dans les étoiles à BOZAR
Le 27 février, le réalisateur autrichien Johann Lurf viendra présenter à BOZAR son premier long-métrage : "★".
Derrière ce titre qui privilégie le symbole à l'alphabet se cache un film au sujet pour le moins poétique : les étoiles au cinéma. Regroupant des images issues de près de 500 films, Johann Lurf nous propose d'explorer pendant une heure et demie les nuits cinématographiques dans toute leur diversité et toutes leurs formes. L'occasion notamment d'observer l'évolution des effets spéciaux à travers les décennies, tout en réfléchissant à notre conception de l'espace.
Objet conceptuel et méditatif, "★" a déjà été présenté dans plusieurs festivals tels que Sundance, Venise et Rotterdam Sa projection à BOZAR sera suivie d'une discussion avec son auteur. Outre ce long-métrage ambitieux, Johann Lurf est le réalisateur de nombreux courts-métrages, tels que "Vertigo" et "Embargo".
Adrien Corbeel le dimanche 25 février 2018 en rtbd.be

Collection de plans de cieux glanés dans l’histoire du cinéma – en se donnant pour consigne de ne conserver que des plans contenant uniquement des étoiles, rien d’autre. En convoquant les souvenirs cinématographiques des uns et des autres et les siens, Johann Lurf construit avec ★ un voyage interstellaire jubilatoire à travers 550 films, au fil des époques de l’image et du son, un pur plaisir d’immersion dans l’immensité cinématographique. Art du montage, des confrontations, de la rythmique. Cuts d’images/bandes son synchrones originales. Dialogue entre les genres et les époques. Le grandiose de l’univers, mais à travers le prisme d’une multitude de représentations humaines au fil du temps. Si loin, si proches. Ces étoiles dont le scintillement nous parvient en décalage. ★ est le premier long–métrage du structuraliste autrichien prolixe Johann Lurf. La collection de ces étoiles du cinéma est un projet au long cours visant à être étoffé à mesure des années.
Aurélie Percevault for MIRE Nantes in June 12th 2019

Cette soirée sera dédiée à une rencontre attendue au cinéma, celle avec les étoiles. Mais le réalisateur Johann Lurf, vivant et travaillant à Vienne, n’a pas dirigé les projecteurs sur les actrices stars, mais il a collectionné les moments au cinéma où les étoiles au firmament impriment leur lumière sur le celluloid. ★ (2017) est le titre du film qui rassemble des vues cinématographiques vers le cosmos à travers toute l’histoire du cinéma, agencées chronologiquement et accompagnées d’extraits des bandes son issues des mêmes fragments.
50 JPG Triennial Osmoscosmos Genéve in June 2019

Una sesión dedicada al cielo y a las investigaciones sobre la luz, con imágenes abstractas de reflejos y destellos de luz, constelaciones, estrellas y galaxias.
Un destello de luz en la oscuridad perfilaría ante la mirada de un observador una especie de arabesco en movimiento continuo que le atraparía la visión. No se necesitaría mucho más para percibir lo que es el cine: bastaría, quizás, un proyector encendido en una sala oscura o la proyección de las dos películas que reúne esta sesión: Lights, de António Palolo, ★, de Johann Lurf, donde a las imágenes abstractas e investigaciones sobre la luz las suceden otras de figuraciones del sol, constelaciones, estrellas y galaxias.
En muchos de sus trabajos fílmicos de los años setenta el pintor portugués António Palolo emprende de manera obsesiva una búsqueda en torno a la luz: Lights (1972-1976) podría ser el mejor ejemplo de esta exploración. A partir de la manipulación de la cámara en la captación de la luz y del uso de filtros, esta película configura un caleidoscopio de luces abstractas de diferentes colores, reflejos, iris fragmentados, mirillas, formas circulares, destellos de luces en la oscuridad puntuados por imágenes de cielos casi blancos.
Por otro lado, la película ★, del cineasta y proyeccionista austriaco Johann Lurf, presenta materialmente las estrellas que aparecen representadas en los cielos nocturnos de muchas películas a lo largo de la historia del cine. Es un repaso cronológico por la representación del paisaje estelar a lo largo de más de cien años de cine, comenzando por películas mudas hasta otras recientes de distintos géneros, no solo de ciencia ficción, que se han detenido a observar el cielo.
Gloria Vilches for the CCCB Barcelona in April 2018

Un film sin título, entre lo más hipnótico del Bafici
Se titula con el dibujo de una estrella y entre los asistentes al Bafici se la conoce como "Estrella". La dirigió el documentalista Johann Lurf y se trata de un gigantesco y obsesivo compilado de apariciones de estrellas y nebulosas a lo largo de más de cien años de cine.
Desde casi todos los episodios de Star Wars hasta Ben Hur y mucho más atrás también. Lurf recopiló planos de estrellas durante ocho años de investigación fílmico-astronómica. Hay obsesión, pasión y climax hipnótico en el trabajo realizado por este artista de la imagen precisa, que estrenó con este opus su primer largometraje luego de una carrera integrada exclusivamente por cortos.
Las imágenes se suceden disparadas por un montaje que va de lo vertiginoso a la tensa calma de un espacio al que solo le faltan acordes de Pink Floyd o Radiohead para detonar el lime neuronal. Con los pasajes musicales (recortados, reeditados) de John Williams y otros tantos genios de la partitura, el film incorpora también diálogos en distintos idiomas, incluyendo el castellano made in Argentina.
Quizá el lugar ideal para asistir a semejante apuesta experimental sea el Planetario. Por ahora, en Buenos Aires se lo puede ver en el Village Recoleta y todavía hay tiempo de sacar tickets para las dos últimas funciones: miércoles 18/4 a las 13.15 y sábado 21/4 a las 19.
Daniel Castelo, Alucinema, 21 de Abril de 2018

Para hacer ésta película de 90 minutos de duración el austriaco Johann Lurf requirió de más de 500 filmes y los ordenó de manera cronológica. El título es simplemente el símbolo de una estrella, que es de lo que trata, se aboca a poner fragmentos de cielos estrellados sacados de todo tipo de películas, de aventura, terror, suspenso, religiosas, ciencia ficción, románticas, musicales, experimental, hasta de animación -pero no se nota casi la diferencia con las de ficción-. Lo que no incluye es documentales, lo cual hubiera sido más fácil y quizá poco original. Comienza desde el cine silente, lo cual desconcierta un poco por su precariedad. En cambio cuando aparecen las bandas sonoras empieza también un juego y un disfrute, una cierta identificación. Las bandas sonoras, los sonidos, las voces en off en distintos idiomas dan distinción a cada fragmento. También es importante lo visual, como complemento, fusión, destaque. Vemos diferentes explosiones galácticas, viajes a la velocidad de la luz, estrellas fugaces, el espacio, el firmamento, la galaxia, gas y polvo interestelar, nubes, luz. Aunque el eje temático –la ilustración de las estrellas en la historia del cine, que Lurf ha dicho continuará actualizando- pareciera algo pequeño y sencillo hay sorprendentemente una gran variedad. Está desde lo más simple y utilizado, un fondo negro y minúsculos puntos brillantes, a lo más elaborado y bello visualmente. En uno de los mejores momentos del filme, bien avanzado el metraje, surge el silencio total, la pantalla yace en negro y empieza a verse muy lentamente, de a pocos, pequeños brillos, aparecen las estrellas, es algo místico. El filme nos hace experimentar muchas sensaciones, que incluyen el entretenimiento en un filme muy curioso y cinéfilo. Se oyen a los Rolling Stones, sobresale muy claramente el habla en japonés, hay una voz en off en español, la sombra de Star Wars asoma por doquier –tiene sonidos que parecen repetirse-, en el juego difícil de la adivinanza, pero es más el dejarse llevar por la creatividad de la variedad de un tema tan sencillo, el mirar hacia las estrellas.
Mario Salazar, Nenúfares Efervescentes, 21 de Abril de 2018

★ De Johann Lurf. Este director austriaco es especialista en sacar el máximo partido estético a sencillas y atractivas ideas estructuralistas. La propuesta de ★ no puede ser más directa: una disposición cronológica de todas las imágenes de cielos estrellados de la historia del cine. Solamente cielos con estrellas, nada más; sin personajes, naves espaciales ni títulos de crédito. Los pequeños fragmentos en los que cineastas de todas las épocas y latitudes imaginaron emocionantes formas de representar el espacio exterior se van sucediendo unos tras otros, sin pausa y con sus bandas de sonido originales. Aventuras de ciencia-ficción, génesis de superhéroes, mantos estrellados que observan personajes en contraplanos ausentes… Todos juntos en sucesión crean un collage cósmico de infatigable avance donde apenas se puede reposar la vista recreándose en los astros, porque muchas veces el rigor de la propuesta lleva a que de algunas películas aparezcan apenas un puñado de fotogramas.
La indudable diversión cinéfila que invita a jugar intentando identificar los títulos va diluyéndose hasta abrazar una ingrávida sensación de abandono. Hay que dejarse llevar en un viaje astral a través del tiempo y el espacio durante los 99 minutos que dura el montaje actual de la pieza, en constante crecimiento y revisión a medida que el autor encuentra más imágenes estelares (la versión proyectada en Rotterdam ya ampliaba la estrenada en la Viennale pocos meses antes). Igual que el universo, la película de Lurf también sigue expandiéndose.
Por Daniel de Partearroyo - 5 de Febrero de 2018, elmundo.cinemania.es

★ / Proyección: Black Canvas
Cuando me enteré de la existencia de ★, del director australiano Johann Lurf, me ganó la curiosidad y me puse como meta lograr ver el largometraje en una sala de cine. El resultado no me decepcionó. La propuesta de Lurf es, en realidad, muy sencilla: hacer un compendio de todas las secuencias de archivo que pudo encontrar sobre estrellas a lo largo de la historia del cine. ¿Suena tedioso? Claro. ¿Lo es? No. El trance provocado por esta modestamente ambiciosa cinta estructuralista es maravilloso. Estas son las verdaderas estrellas del cine.
Rafael Paz, Forbes México forbes.com.mx, enero 11, 2019

Humildemente titulado con apenas un símbolo, el primer largometraje de Johann Lurf es –irónicamente– su obra más ambiciosa. Fruto de ocho años de investigación, ★ constituye un viaje visual verdaderamente hipnótico a través de la historia del cine y su heterogénea representación de las estrellas.
Cineteca Madrid in February 2019

Ein Film ohne Antworten, aber mit so vielen Fragen wie Sterne am Himmel stehen: Der österreichische Strukturalist Johann Lurf hat sich für sein Langfilmdebüt ein gewagtes, unendlich expandierendes Sujet ausgesucht: die stars des Kinos. Allerdings sind es keine Filmstars, sondern die Sterne am Nachthimmel, lichte Nadelstiche in der Dunkelheit, die er aus Filmen exzerpiert hat – beginnend mit Anbruch des Kinos bis herauf in unsere Gegenwart –, im Rahmen eines Projekts, das auch selbst jährlich erweitert werden soll. Diese Sternbeispiele, die ihrem filmischen Zusammenhang mit unversehrtem Ton entnommen wurden – ob Ambient-Summen, mächtige Orchester-Scores, penible Erklärungen oder träumerische Spekulationen – sind Magiefelder einer mit Möglichkeiten gesprenkelten Dunkelheit. Lurfs jazzige Montage gleicht ruhige Konzentriertheit und nervöse Bildschwankungen aus, sie basiert auf dem methodischen Zugang, Dauer, Bild- und Tonspur jedes Ausschnitts zu übernehmen. Das Publikum wird so auf eine Reise durch jene Tonalitäten von Bedrohung und Verheißung geschickt, die der Kosmos aussendet. Weil es sich um ein Sujet handelt, welches sich schwierig bis unmöglich akkurat filmisch aufzeichnen lässt, begegnen wir dabei wieder und wieder den verschiedenen Interpretationen der Sternennacht durch matte artists (Kulissenmaler) und Spezialeffektzauberer, mal ganz ruhig, mal in rasender Bewegung durch den Raum oder in ihn hinein, auf weißglühende Nebel, ferne zwinkernde Punkte und dazwischen die schwarze Leere starrend. Indem wir eine Geschichte des Kinos in seiner Fixierung auf den und Flucht in den Weltraum durchmessen, stellen wir fest, was Zuschauer_innen zu ihrer Zeit da oben sahen. Zugleich spiegelt sich darin unsere eigene Verwunderung: Ehrfurcht, Schrecken, Hoffnung, arrogantes Selbstvertrauen, melancholisches Sehnen und blanke, ehrfürchtige Stille. Dies sind die raren Momente, in denen ein Kinopublikum mit dem Rücken zum Projektor tatsächlich Licht gegenübersitzt, das auf es zurück fällt: Unsere Augen sind die Leinwände für das Kino der stars.
Daniel Kasman 2017

...Dass die Distanzüberwindung noch weiter reichen kann, beweist der mit dem Preis für innovatives Kino bedachte ★, der schon auf dem Filmfestival von Sundance lief. Johann Lurf hat nach ausgiebiger Recherche Sternenbilder der Filmgeschichte von 1905 bis in die Gegenwart aneinandermontiert. Erlaubt war nur, wo im Bild nichts anderes als Gestirn zu sehen war. Der Ton freilich erzählt in dieser die Vorstellungskraft munter ankurbelnden Collage auch davon, wie die Menschheit da oben schon immer sich selbst in Verhältnis zur Ewigkeit setzte. So wird das Kino zum Mittel, noch das Unendliche ein Stück greifbarer zu machen.
Dominik Kamalzadeh, Michael Pekler, Der Standard am 19.3.2018

Das Lurf’sche Kino: Blickirritationen, optische und akustische Verfremdungen, faszinierende, seltene Filme. Bisher. Doch mittlerweile scheint der Planet Erde zu klein für des Filmemachers Sehnsucht und er greift nach den Sternen. Acht Jahre arbeitete Lurf an diesem Werk, dem Panorama des Himmels, gesehen aus der Perspektive eines Filmliebhabers. Filmausschnitte, Sprachfetzen, Sternenballett, choreografiert von einer Göttin, die niemand kennt. Alles chronologisch, von der Stummfilmzeit bis heute. Nicht weniger als 90 Minuten träumen, 13 Sprachen lernen, sich fürchten und freuen – ein ganz außergewöhnlicher Abenteuerfilm, allein schön, zu zweit noch schöner.
Viennale im Oktober 2017

Die Einzelausstellung 'In Sequence of Appearance' zeigt zwei Filme des österreichischen Künstlers und Filmemachers Johann Lurf. Im Hauptfilm mit dem Titel ★ schafft Lurf eine strikt nach Erscheinungsdatum der Originalfilme geordnete Abfolge von Sternenhimmelsequenzen. Trotz der strukturellen Rigidität entfaltet der Film aufgrund von Motivik und Bildsprache eine höchst immersive Dimension. Lurf konfrontiert den Betrachter mit einem Kontinuum imposanter Ausblicke eskapistischer Dimension, die den Blick allmählich subtil an den Betrachter zurückwenden, sodass dieser Film zu einem das Medium Film, die Wissenschaft und die Metaphysik verbindenden blick- und ideengeschichtlichen Reflexionsmedium wird
David Komary, Galerie Stadtpark Krems im April 2019

Leinwand frei für Sternenanbeter/innen! Johann Lurf sammelte aus nicht weniger als 553 Filmen alle „reinen“ Sternenhimmel und montierte sie chronologisch gereiht aneinander – von 1905 quer durchs All bis 2017. Das erstaunliche Resultat ist eine ungetrübte Searched-Footage-Doku mit verblüffendem Soundtrack – ein grandioser Sternenatlas der Filmgeschichte.
Das Prinzip dieses experimentellen Dokumentarfilms ist denkbar einfach wie romantisch zugleich: Finde in möglichst vielen Kinofilmen alle Sternenhimmel und montiere sie aneinander, in chronologischer Reihenfolge, der Ton ist dabei immer der Originalton zum jeweiligen Bild. Die Umsetzung der Idee erweist sich als umso aufwendiger: Acht Jahre lang begibt sich Johann Lurf auf eine intensive Expedition und formt einen überwältigenden Sternenatlas der Filmgeschichte (in der vorliegenden Fassung nicht weniger als 553 Filme – von Rêve à la lune (1905) bis Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017). Anfangs expandiert die Sternenschau langsam, im Lauf der Jahre zunehmend schneller. Immer mehr Hinweise auf Stern lmbilder langen ein, eine Datenbank wird angelegt, neue Ausschnitte schieben sich in die jeweils letzte Version, die Sternstunde wächst auf dreißig, sechzig, neunzig Minuten. Wann soll man enden? Bis ein Freund rät: Jetzt. Es wäre aber nicht Johann Lurf, würde er sich mit der erschöpfenden Sammlung eines Archivars scheinbar absichtslos begnügen. Im Gegenteil: Der bewusste Verzicht auf eine durch den Film führen die Handlung und das Fehlen jeder Erklärung des Gezeigten zwingen uns, ob wir wollen oder nicht, zu eigenen Assoziationen – Lurfs Sternensammlung avanciert im Kino zum regelrecht lustvollen Wahrnehmungsexperiment. Ist zwischen manchen Schnitten nicht doch eine Struktur zu erkennen? War genau diese Sternenkonstellation nicht schon zu einem früheren Zeitpunkt zu sehen? Die Stimme kenne ich doch, ist das nicht aus dem Film, wie hieß er doch gleich? Man ahnt, dass hinter jedem einzelnen Ausschnitt eine Geschichte oder Anekdote steckt, und Johann Lurf kann im Gespräch viel darüber erzählen. Überhaupt ist der Clou, dass fast alle Sternenhimmel im Kino künstlichen Ursprungs sind und dass sie es, sofern sie nicht im Planetarium abgefilmt wurden, mit der Astronomie nicht so genau nehmen. Und obwohl es im Weltall nichts zu hören gibt, begleitet den Film ein fulminanter Soundtrack, der historisch bedingt stumm beginnt, sich aber bald zu einer hinreißenden Collage aus Sprache, Geräuschen und Musik entwickelt. Fast zu schnell endet der Film und lässt uns nochmals staunen, wenn zum minutenlangen Abspann die drehleierartigen Synthesizerklänge von Wendy Carlos die RaumZeitReise ins Endlose fortsetzen.
Markus Zöchling für die Diagonale Graz im März 2018

Punkt, Punkt, Komma, Strich...
Über einige Gedankenlinien in Johann Lurfs ★
Alejandro Bachmann
Lichte Punkte auf nächtlichem Hintergrund. Durchgehend, für derzeit etwas weniger als 100 Minuten. Johann Lurf hat in seinem Found Footage Werk ★ kinematographische Sternenhimmel versammelt und diese chronologisch hintereinander montiert, von den Anfängen des Kinos 1895 bis in die Gegenwart. Man sieht also erst einmal nichts anderes als genau das. Und der Film soll wachsen, mit jedem Screening länger werden, sich ausbreiten wie das Universum, das diese Sterne umgibt, zumindest so lange es das Kino gibt.
In seiner Abstraktion, in seiner reduzierten Ästhetik, die auf die Grundelemente der Kinoerfahrung verweist, ist ★ durchaus ein struktureller Film: Die hellen Sterne auf schwarzem Untergrund reduzieren die potenziellen Schattierungen eines Filmbildes auf den Grundkontrast von Licht und Dunkelheit. Der Schnitt folgt dem vom Filmemacher erdachten Konzept (nur Sternenhimmel, keine Raumschiffe, kein Horizont, kein Zweig, der irgendwo ins Bild ragt) in solcher Konsequenz, dass er permanent spürbar bleibt als formales Grundelement des Films. Len Lye hat mit Free Radicals (1958) einen Film gemacht, der ähnlich reduziert war, bei ihm erzeugt durch weiße Kratzspuren auf dem Filmmaterial. Und natürlich muss man bei dieser Strenge und Reduzierung auch an Peter Kubelkas Arnulf Rainer denken, ein Film aus schwarzen und weißen Kadern, Stille und Lärm, den der Filmemacher selbst interessanterweise auch ins Nahverhältnis zu einem Naturphänomen – dem Gewitter – gestellt hat.
Was genau tut sich zwischen all den weißen Punkten auf, denen man im Dunkel des Kinosaals folgt, welche Linien lassen sich zwischen ihnen auf der Leinwand und zwischen dieser und der Betrachterin ziehen? Was lässt sich in der Begegnung mit ★ alles denken, wenn man das Denken im Film ganz basal im Sinne Alexandre Astruc's als das Erzeugen einer Beziehung zwischen zwei Objekten begreift? Astruc muss einem zwangsläufig einfallen, sehen wir doch in der Erstpublikation seines „Naissance d'une nouvelle avant-garde. La Camera Stylo“ im März 1948 eine Karikatur von Maurice Henry, in der ein Wesen hinter einem übergroßen Stift steht, der horizontal auf einem Stativ befestigt ist: Der Kamera-Stift, aber eben auch der Teleskop-Stift, der das Ansehen der Sterne mit dem Aufschreiben eines Gedankens vereint.
Denken muss man in jedem Fall an die eigene Kino-Biografie, weil man sich unweigerlich fragt, habe ich diesen Sternenhimmel schon einmal gesehen? Und wenn ja, wo? Und warum erinnere ich mich an ihn? Wo es außerhalb des Kinos nur einen Sternenhimmel gibt, wird er im Kino zu dem Sternenhimmel des einen spezifischen Films, der potenziell Teil meines persönlichen Kino-Sternenhimmels gewesen sein könnte. Es fällt schwer, sich an einen Film zu erinnern, der diese grundfilmische Konstellation zwischen realem Objekt, filmischer Repräsentation und persönlicher Wahrnehmung so präzise und poetisch verdichtet noch einmal vor Augen führt.
Diese Linie, die sich von der Welt durch das Bild zur Betrachterin zieht, wird von einer horizontalen Linie gekreuzt, die sich entlang der Dauer des Films vom ersten zum letzten Bild zieht. Sie erhält ihren Grundverlauf erst einmal nur durch die Verschiebungen der einzelnen Sterne im Bild und zwischen den Bildern. Folgt man ihr, sieht man zum Einen, wie Wunderkerzen und gemalte Sets sich langsam zu weißen Lichtpunkten auf schwarzem Hintergrund wandeln, um gegen Ende von ★ zu kleinteiligsten Lichtformationen vor feinsten Farbverläufen zu werden. Oder man beobachtet, wie die Sterne erst nur einen kleinen Teil der Leinwand bedecken, um nach und nach eine immer größere Fläche zu kolonisieren. Das Spiel der Formen und Bewegungen wird so direkt mit den Produktionsmitteln seiner Erzeugung in Verbindung gebracht, die sich im Verlauf der Geschichte des Mediums verändert haben: vom Stummfilmformat über das Academy Format und diverse Breitbildformate, vom analogen Film samt seiner diversen Körnungen zum gestochen scharfen, überklaren digitalen 4k Bild, von der Abwesenheit einer Geräuschkulisse zum Mono-, Stereo-, Dolby Digital 5.1 und 7.1 Soundsystem.
Über den Ton erfahren wir aber auch von einem Denken, das sich über 122 Jahre von unten nach oben gezogen hat, in dem der Mensch sich ins Verhältnis zu den Sternen gesetzt hat. Die Fragmente der Originaltonspuren erzählen davon, welche Soundscapes und Melodien man filmisch an den Himmel richtete, aber auch welche Gedanken laut ausgesprochen wurden, während man in die Nacht blickte. ★ ist so also nicht nur das Archiv filmischer Sternenbilder, sondern auch ein Zettelkasten menschlicher Gedanken in der Begegnung mit ihnen.
Johann Lurf hat für den Schaffensprozess von ★ klare Regeln festgelegt, so dass der Film auch über einen Algorithmus weiter wachsen könnte. Sobald irgendwo im Kino ein Sternenbild auftaucht, müsste dieser es nur aus dem Film herausschneiden, an die richtige Stelle in ★ einsetzten und wieder wäre ★ ein wenig länger. Vielleicht also wird ★ uns alle überdauern. Aber wer soll dann zwischen all den Punkten die Linien ziehen?
Erschienen im kolik film Sonderheft 29/2018 www.kolikfilm.at

„*“ wirft Blicke in den Himmel Traumhaft gibt sich auch „*“ von Johann Lurf, an dem der Filmemacher immerhin acht Jahre gewerkt hat: Das Himmelszelt in unterschiedlichsten Variationen, aus verschiedensten Blickwinkeln der Filmgeschichte gezeigt und inszeniert, bietet folglich ein höchst ungewöhnliches Sehvergnügen, das sich stilistisch von der Stummfilmzeit bis ins Heute zieht.
orf.at 10. Oktober 2017

Viennale 2017: ★ von Johann Lurf
Das Konzept von Johann Lurfs erstem Langfilm ★ ist schnell erklärt. Neunzig Minuten lang sind Sternenhimmel aus über hundert Jahren Filmgeschichte zu sehen. Lurf hat sich dazu einige Beschränkungen auferlegt – außer dem Himmel, den Himmelskörpern und gegebenenfalls Wolken und Satelliten darf nichts anderes im Frame zu sehen sein, auf der Tonspur ist immer der Ton des Originalfilms zu hören. Angeordnet hat Lurf die Ausschnitte streng chronologisch, das freilich lässt sich beim erstmaligen Sehen des Films nicht mit Sicherheit bestimmen. Zwar beginnt der Film mit Passagen aus Stummfilmen, die folglich ohne Ton präsentiert werden und man kann mit Fortdauer des Films erkennen, wie die Aufnahmen technologischer ausgereifter erscheinen, doch mit Ausnahme einiger Filmschnipsel, die man je nach filmgeschichtlicher Kenntnis verorten kann, löst sich das Rätsel der Logik der Montage erst mit den Ausführungen des Regisseurs. Man kann diese Form der filmischen Anordnung kritisieren, besteht die Arbeit des Filmemachers in diesem Fall eher in der Recherche der einzelnen Filmausschnitte, als in deren künstlerischer Zusammensetzung, doch das Resultat wirkt erstaunlich rhythmisch. Der Zufall als Cutter, ordnet die Sternenhimmel mal rasant wechselnd, mal langsam fließend an, Farben, Töne und Bewegungen folgen willkürlich aufeinander an, wirken aber weniger beliebig, als man meinen sollte. In seinen stärksten Momenten wirkt der Film wie ein sorgsam konstruierter Remix, ihn zu sehen ist ein manisches und zugleich sinnliches Erlebnis.
Neben der visuellen Sensation, gibt ★ aber auch Auskunft über filmgeschichtliche Konventionen. Der Zusammenschnitt der Filme aus über einhundert Jahren lässt Rückschlüsse über die filmische Gestaltungsweise von Sternenhimmeln im Laufe der Jahrzehnte zu. Verschiedene Bewegungen kommen regelmäßig vor: das Eintauchen in den Sternenhimmel beziehungsweise dessen Gegenbewegung – das langsame Zurückziehen; später das langsame Abkippen vom Sternenhimmel in Richtung Horizontlinie (das im Film immer zu Ende geht, bevor die Oberfläche erreicht ist); der Blick in den Nachthimmel, wo Sternschnuppen (oder in einer parodistischen Variation, Satelliten) vorüberziehen; rasante Fahrten durch den Weltraum in Überlichtgeschwindigkeit, in der die Sterne ihre Erscheinung verändern. Auffällig ist auch die zunehmende, wissenschaftliche Präzision der Sternendarstellung. Während anfangs noch oft willkürliche Lichtpunkte vor dunklem Hintergrund zu sehen sind, werden in späteren Filmen öfter korrekte Darstellungen des Sternenhimmels ausgewählt. Das hat sicherlich auch damit zu tun, dass erst die technischen Rahmenbedingungen geschaffen werden mussten, um überhaupt in den Nachthimmel oder in Planetarien filmen zu können (das war in größerem Rahmen erst nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg möglich), später erleichterte die Möglichkeit der Simulation des Himmels mittels Computertechnik die korrekte Darstellung von Himmelskörpern. Größer gedacht legt der Film auch inszenatorische Konventionen offen, die nicht direkt mit der Darstellung des Sternenhimmels zu tun haben: Der rhetorische Stil der Erzählerstimmen, die sehr oft zu hören sind, verändert sich, ebenso die Musikuntermalung und die Dialogregie – auch die Weiterentwicklung der Tricktechnik kann am Beispiel der Sternenhimmel nachvollzogen werden.
Im Gesamtwerks Lurf, der bisher in erster Linie mit streng komponierten und rhythmischen ausgefeilten Bild-/Tonkompositionen auf sich aufmerksam machte, ist dieses 90-minütige filmhistorische Hasardstück zugleich Ausreißer, als auch logische Weiterentwicklung. Ausreißer wegen der Länge des Films, dem Produktionszeitraum von mehreren Jahren und der Form der Montage, Weiterentwicklung, weil es sich bei ★, wie bei seinen meisten anderen Filmen, um eine experimentelle Untersuchung handelt, in der die Erfahrungsweise bestimmter Bild-/Tonfolgen getestet wird. Wenn in Twelve Tales Told noch in kleinerem Rahmen die Regeln der Selbstinszenierung von Filmstudios in Frage gestellt wurden, so setzt ★ dieses Interesse Lurfs mit seiner Betrachtung filmischer Sternenhimmel fort. Lurf hat angekündigt sein Sternenprojekt noch weiter fortzusetzen, um irgendwann alle Sternenhimmel der Filmgeschichte in einem Mammutfilm zu vereinen. Ein kaum zu erreichendes Ziel (abgesehen davon, dass sicherlich bereits etliche filmische Sternenhimmel für immer verloren sind), aber eine sympathische Utopie.
Rainer Kienböck für Jugend ohne Film am 24. Oktober 2017

Einmal die gesamte Filmgeschichte, bitte!
Johann Lurf liefert mit seinem Film ★ einerseits ein Werk das staunen lässt, aber andererseits ein überaus anstrengendes Filmvergnügen ist. Aus 550 Filmtiteln hat er die Sternenaufnahmen herausgeschnitten, um diese dann chronologisch also ausgehend vom Produktionsjahr zusammenzuschneiden. Man sieht über 90 Minuten lang nur Sterne unterbrochen von vielen, vielen Schnitten, einigen Kamerafahrten und –schwenks, und ein paar Sternschnuppen.
Die Geräuschkulisse ist dabei äußerst kurios, da die originalen Soundtracks und Dialoge der Filme verwendet wurden und diese oftmals nur bruchstückhaft wiedergegeben werden, da Lurf Credits und Filmtitel rausschnitt, um wirklich nur den Himmel abzubilden. Lange Zeit hat er daran gedacht den Ton ganz wegzulassen, da er vom Bild ablenkt und das All ja im Grunde stumm ist. Andererseits bietet gerade die Geräuschkulisse eine wichtige Basis zur Analyse der Entwicklung der Filme im Laufe der Jahrzehnte und deshalb hört man jetzt im Film Lieder, Stimmen und Geräusche, die vom Wandel der Zeit genauso geprägt sind wie das Bild.
Der Regisseur will mit dieser Arbeit den Verlauf der Filmgeschichte abbilden und das mit einem Urbild der Filmgeschichte, nämlich dem Blick ins All. Entstanden ist diese Idee, als Lurf in einem Seminar von Harun Farocki den Film „Stromboli“ mit Ingrid Bergmann gesehen hat und über die schlechten Aufnahmen der Sterne erstaunt war. Von da an suchte er in sämtlichen Archiven der Welt nach Filmen die den Weltraum abbildeten, um eine Chronologie dieses Raumes in der Filmgeschichte abbilden zu können.
Und da die Filmgeschichte noch nicht zu Ende ist, ist auch dieser Film noch nicht zu Ende. Es handelt sich um ein Work-in-Progress, das der Filmemacher in den kommenden Jahren erweitern will. Vielen im Publikum waren die 90 Minuten zwar schon genug, Lurf meinte aber, dass dem Publikum auch zwei Stunden und mehr zuzutrauen wären. Die Arbeit des Filmemachers sich durch unzählige Archive zu wühlen, um an das Material zu gelangen ist auf jeden Fall zu honorieren, aber die Länge des Films ist schon sehr ermüdend und anstrengend und ist sicherlich nichts für einen gemütlichen Filmabend. Das Museum würde sich meiner Meinung nach für dieses Filmprojekt aber sehr gut anbieten.
Pramberger für Uncut am 25. Oktober 2017

Ebenfalls ein Montage- und Konzeptfilm, jedoch völlig überwältigend, ist der neue Film des österreichischen Experimentalfilmemachers Johann Lurf, der in Rotterdam auf der größten Leinwand des Pathé-Kinos aufgeführt wurde. Mit seinem ersten Langfilm, der den rein graphischen Titel »★« trägt, stellte Lurf ein Werk vor, das von seiner Anlage her tatsächlich unendlich sein könnte – sofern man sich die Filmgeschichte inklusive der films to come als etwas prinzipiell Unabschließbares vorstellen kann: »★« ist Work-in-progress, kann jederzeit ergänzt und ausgebaut werden und also von Jahr zu Jahr länger sein.
Lurf reiht aneinander: So wäre vielleicht ganz unpoetisch seine Arbeitsweise zu beschreiben. Und zwar unzählige Foundfootages, die den Sternenhimmel zeigen, in chronologischer Folge ihrer Entstehungszeit – der Abspann, der alle Filme aufzählt, ist fast fünf Minuten lang. Es ist ein gründlicher Blick in die Filmgeschichte jener anderen Sternchen und Stars, die hier wohl zum ersten Mal gebührlich Aufmerksamkeit bekommen. Der Film ist zugleich auch eine Geschichte der Special Effects, die immer ausgebuffter werden, je mehr die Zeit voranschreitet. Die Geschichte der Sterne fängt realitv simpel an, mit gezeichneten Sternensymbolen (Edwin S. Porter, Three American Beauties, 1906), und einer Sternen-Kulisse, aus der wie Engel zwischen Wolken Gesichter hervorblicken (Gaston Velle, Voyage Autour d’une Étoile, 1906), geht dann aber schnell über zu einem »wissenschaftlichen«, objektiven Sternenuniversum und ersten räumlich wirkenden Fahrten in den Sternenhimmel hinein (Martin Rikli, Unendlicher Weltenraum, 1936). Auffällig ist, wie im Zuge des technischen Fortschritts die Vorstellung des Weltraums immer »bunter« wird – wo keine kleinen glühenden Sonnen mehr genügen, da muss es ein raumerzeugender vielfarbiger Sternennebel oder atemberaubende 3D-Effekte wie beim Vorspann zu den Star-Wars-Filmen sein.
Im Grunde genommen ändert sich aber nicht viel. Die Vorstellung, wie der Sternenhimmel oder das Universum filmisch darzustellen seien, bleibt im Durchgang der Jahrzehnte relativ konstant. Die Sterne funkeln, viele befinden sich in langsamer Bewegung – eine der Kuriositäten, auf die Lurf im Gespräch aufmerksam macht: das ist, als würde man in die Zeit hineinsehen können, denn tatsächlich bewegen sich die Sterne am Himmel, nur ist dies für das menschliche Auge nicht erfassbar. Durch so manchen Sternenhimmel (Kino-Früh- wie -Spätzeit) saust ein Komet oder Satellit, oft kann man das universell bekannte Sternbild, den Großen Wagen erkennen, seltener zeigt sich Orion.
Die Sternenhimmel sind ganz und gar der Phantasie entsprungen, betont Lurf, die Filmgeschichte habe auf astronomisch Exaktheit verzichtet, und stattdessen repräsentative Himmel geschaffen. Auf sie konzentriert er sich, niemals sind Horizonte oder sonstige Rahmungen des Bildes zu sehen. Seinen Eingangsschnitt setzt er, wenn das letzte Stück Horizont verschwunden ist und sich der blanke Sternenhimmel zeigt, ebenso verfährt er für den Endschnitt. Es ist ein freier Blick aufs All, der Vergleichbarkeit zwischen den vielen Filmschnipseln schafft und Voraussetzung zu einer beschleunigten Zeitreise durch die Filmgeschichte der Sterne wird.
Diese ist auch eine Geschichte über die gesellschaftlichen Vorzeichen, die propagandistischen Untertöne, die Gewiss- und Unsicherheiten der Menschen. In den Film-Himmeln lasse sich die »Kolonialisierung des Weltraums« ablesen, so Lurf, und auch die mediale Kolonialisierung unserer Sinne durch den Special Effect und die immersive Bild-und-Sound-Erfahrung. Über die Tonspur, die Lurf parallel zu den strengen Bildausschnitten ohne Rücksicht auf Bedeutungseinheiten, also rein strukturell cuttet, offenbart sich so auch die jeweilige Ideologie der Zeit. »Was rings im Weltenraume leuchtet, sind alles Sonnen. Ungezählte Millionen Sonnen«, raunt Martin Rikli in Unendlicher Weltenraum (1936) in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Meist steht der Space für die menschliche Erfahrung kosmischer Einsamkeit, im Kalten Krieg wird er zum Schauplatz des Wettrüstens mit den Mitteln der Propaganda. Wiederkehrend sind über die Jahrzehnte hinweg träumerische oder futuristische Musik, oder die Disziplin des Mansplaining: Onkelhafte, wissenschaftlich tuende oder gottgleiche, auktoriale Erzähler erklären einem aus dem Off den Weltraum: »This is the universe. Big, isn't it? Thousands of Suns, millions of stars, separated by immense distances and by thin floating clouds of gaz.« Manchmal auch in der Vater-Kind- oder Mann-Frau-Konstellation, wobei der Mann erklärt und den Frauen und Kindern das Staunen überlassen wird.
Das alles teilt sich ganz und gar unmittelbar mit, der Film fächert sich in der Montage seiner Filmschnipsel selbsterklärend auf. Anders als andere historischen Kompliationsfilme kommentiert Lurf so auch nicht, nicht durch die Auswahl, die er nicht selektiv, sondern konzeptuell trifft, allenfalls noch über die Montage bei reichhaltigen Jahrgängen, die eine kompositorische Anordnung zulassen. Und schon gar nicht gibt es hier eine Filmerklärung aus dem Off, was sich so mancher filmhistorisch arbeitende Regisseur nicht verkneifen kann, um sein Wissen auszustellen. Das Ergebnis, »★«, ist ein umso erhellenderes Werk, in dem man selbst die Entdeckungsreise durch das weite Universum der Filmgeschichte vollzogen hat. Ganz mit den Mitteln des Kinos.
Dunja Bialas, artechock.de am 8. Februar 2018

Space, the final frontier. Die unendlichen Weiten des Weltraums, seit Urzeiten ziehen sie den Blick des Menschen an. Er denkt sich den Mond als Frau, oder einen Mann hinein. Der eine glaubt, dass ein Stern die Krippe des Erlösers anzeigte, die andere, dass dort draussen in einer Fruchtblase ein riesiges Star Child schwebt. Manche sehen in Konstellationen das Wirken kosmischer Kräfte, manche erwarten grüne Männchen vom roten Planeten. Raumschiffe rollen zu Walzerklängen durch diesen allumfassenden Sehnsuchtsort, an dem dich keiner schreien hört; daher schreit das All umso lauter von seiner Ewigkeit und unserer Endlichkeit und von dem Nichts dazwischen. Das sind nur einige wenige der Assoziationsräume, die der 1982 in Wien geborene und an der Akademie der bildenden Künste ausgebildete Experimentalfilmer Johann Lurf in seinem Found-Footage-Film aufreisst. Indem er Blicke montiert, die der Mensch im Kino in den Sternenhimmel geworfen hat, von der Kulissen- Stummfilmzeit bis in die Special-Effects-Gegenwart. Mal geht es mit krach-blitzender Lichtgeschwindigkeit voran, mal sanft und schwerelos schwebend, auf dieser virtuosen, erhellenden, lustigen Reise durchs Imaginäre, die das Licht der Welt und das Licht der Leinwand zur Deckung bringt.
Bildrausch Filmfest Basel, Juni 2018

[…] Das Ergebnis ist eine Metageschichte des Films, weniger eine Geschichte, die sich als grosses historisches Veränderungsgeschehen zeigt, sondern mehr eine Geschichte der Ähnlichkeit; eine Geschichte der Binnenverweise – eher ein Geschichtsgewinde als ein Geschichtsverlauf.
[…] Eine der spannendsten Entdeckungen dieses Films ist eine grundsätzliche Unterscheidbarkeit oder Typisierbarkeit der Bilder. Dabei lassen sich zwei grundsätzliche Funktionsweisen voneinander trennen: die universelle Bewegung und die individuelle Bewegung.
Johann Lurfs Found-Footage-Arbeit lässt sich zunächst einmal als Filmgeschichtsschreibungsprojekt beschreiben; nur ist sie gerade als solches sehr schwer zu erfassen. Das hat vor allem damit zu tun, dass die Bilder, die hier versammelt werden – Bilder aus der Anfangszeit des Films bis hin zu Bildern aus dem vergangenen Kinojahr –, auf besondere Weise beziehungslos sind zu den Filmen, aus denen sie stammen. Und das wiederum hat wohl damit zu tun, dass diese Bilder Beziehungslosigkeit schlechthin darstellen, dass die Stiftung von Unverhältnissen und Unverhältnismässigkeiten gerade ihr Inhalt und Ansinnen ist. Der bestirnte Weltraum: ein zugleich realer und imaginärer Raum, ein reiner Sichtbarkeitraum, keiner, der sich betreten liesse, in dem sich Mass nehmen liesse, in dem Verhältnisse anschaubar würden. Auf über 90 Minuten hat Lurf Nachthimmelsbilder aus sämtlichen Filmzeitaltern chronologisch aneinandermontiert. (Der Begriff Nachthimmelsbild ist eigentlich nicht ganz korrekt, denn die Nacht ist ein Erdphänomen; Bilder vom All – besonders prägnant etwa in Christopher Nolans sonnensystemverlassenden Interstellar – sind streng genommen also keine Nachtbilder. Lurfs Film unterscheidet hierbei allerdings nicht, und das wahrscheinlich zu Recht, denn wie sollte man das All bildlich denken, wenn nicht in irgendeiner Form als Nachthimmel?) ★ beginnt mit den mechanisch bewegten Studiokulissen aus der Stummfilmzeit und endet mit den galaktischen Computeranimationen der Gegenwart. Das Ergebnis ist eine Metageschichte des Films, weniger eine Geschichte, die sich als grosses historisches Veränderungsgeschehen zeigt, sondern mehr eine Geschichte der Ähnlichkeit; eine Geschichte der Binnenverweise – eher ein Geschichtsgewinde als ein Geschichtsverlauf.
Dabei geht es natürlich nicht darum, dass sich die Himmelsmechanik bei Edwin S. Porter im Film Three American Beauties nicht von der Digitalität der Bilder in George Millers Mad Max: Fury Road oder Luc Bessons Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets unterscheiden liesse – selbstverständlich lässt sich die hier verhandelte Bildgeschichte als Technikgeschichte lesen, nur würde man damit nicht weit kommen, denn Lurf untersucht ganz andere und vor allem nicht linear verlaufende historische Bewegungen. Worum es stattdessen geht in dieser Geschichte der Ähnlichkeit, ist, bestimmten Gesetzmässigkeiten und (Bewegungs-)Konfigurationen von Nachthimmels- und Weltraumbildern nachzuspüren – und zwar unabhängig von der Frage ihrer historischen Verortung auf einem Zeitstrahl der Filmgeschichte.
Eine der spannendsten Entdeckungen dieses Films ist eine grundsätzliche Unterscheidbarkeit oder Typisierbarkeit der Bilder. Dabei lassen sich zwei grundsätzliche Funktionsweisen voneinander trennen: die universelle Bewegung und die individuelle Bewegung; ein vollständig in Bewegung befindliches Sternensystem auf der einen Seite (eine beispielhafte, ikonische Einstellung zeigt etwa eine Fahrt durch den Weltraum, wobei die Kamera sich den Weg durch einen planetarisches Vektoren- und Bewegungssystem bahnt) und, auf der anderen Seite, ein fixes Leuchtsystem, das von einem wandernden Objekt durchzogen und durchtrennt wird (die Sternschnuppe oder der Satellit). Unterscheiden lassen sich anhand dieser beiden Typen also naturwissenschaftliche/astrophysikalische von humanistischen/existenzialphilosophischen/religiösen Bildideen. Nicht selten werden diese beiden perspektivischen Horizonte auch in den Off-Monologen offenbar. Gesprochen wird in Lehrfilmen etwa über planetarische Zusammenhänge, über bildlich nicht darstellbare astronomische Grössen, gesprochen wird aber auch über den Sinn der Existenz, über das eigene Ich, über seine Verlorenheit und Melancholie. Der Sternenhimmel hat sich im Verlauf der Filmgeschichte stets als doppelbeschichtete Projektionsfläche angeboten: Er konnte sowohl zum Bild für das äusserste Aussen als auch zum Bild für das innerste Innen werden.
Eine andere Unterscheidbarkeit, die Lurfs Film denkbar macht – und auch auf diese ist man im Verlauf der Filmgeschichte immer wieder mit, wenn man so will, kunsthistorischer Prägnanz zurückgekommen –, wäre die des barocken Ornaments und der romantischen Figur. Harmonisierungsfantasie auf der einen Seite, Entgrenzungsfigurationen auf der anderen. Typisch für das barocke Bild sind etwa Kamerafahrten in die Bildmitte hinein, wobei die Himmelskörper sternförmig an die Ränder des Kaders streben (mit im Laufe der Bewegungsbildgeschichte zunehmender Geschwindigkeit): eine ständig in ihrer eigenen Vollendung befindliche Form. Das romantische Bild hingegen entwirft ein dezentrales Bild des Weltraums/Nachthimmels. Besonders schön sind solche Schwenks, die mit schrägwinkliger Richtung durch ein gegenläufig bewegtes Sternsystem wandern und so den Eindruck von Orientierungslosigkeit und Taumel erzeugen: ein permanentes Aus-der-Form-Fallen. Natürlich ist es deshalb auch kein Zufall, dass diese Bilder auch häufig mit ihrem musikalischen Korrelat belegt wurden: das Blechbläsergewitter, die virtuose Solovioline.
Es lohnt sich deshalb, sich ★ als verdichtete Filmgeschichte anzusehen – auch weil dieser Film eine ganz andere historiografische Praxis vorschlägt, als man es gewohnt sein mag. Bei Lurf zeigt sich diese Geschichte nämlich nicht als Gang durch das (oder durch ein wie auch immer gedachtes) Konglomerat der Filme, die sie hervorgebracht hat, sondern als eine Art schraubenförmige Spur durch bestimmte bewegungsbildliche Typen, die an keine konkreten poetologischen Gerüste mehr rückgebunden sind. Genau deshalb ist Filmgeschichte hier auch eine Metageschichte: weil sie mitten hindurchgeht durch Hunderte Filme, wir aber in keinen einzigen hineinfinden können – mit Ausnahme vielleicht von dem ein oder anderen kinematografischen Fixstern, sagen wir von Stanley Kubrick oder George Lucas.
Lukas Stern am 2. Juni 2018 auf filmexplorer.ch

Mit ★ (AT 2019) knüpft ein weiterer Programmpunkt im Festival an das Œuvre Johann Lurfs an. Der Filmemacher sammelte aus nicht weniger als 586 Filmen alle „reinen“ Sternenhimmel und montierte sie chronologisch gereiht aneinander – von 1905 quer durchs All bis 2018. ★ ist ein stetig wachsender Film, dessen neueste Version ab sofort auf jeder Diagonale im Nachtslot gezeigt wird. Ein grandioser Sternenatlas der Filmgeschichte
Diagonale 2019

Еще на Роттердаме вслед за «Сандэнсом» показывают фильм под названием «★», для которого австрийский структуралист вырезал и уложил в хронологической последовательности все сцены из кино, где когда-либо изображалось звездное небо. Всего получилось 99 медитативных минут.
Максим Сухагузов afisha.ru 28 января 2018

Самый удивительный планетарий на Земле в 4К.
Грандиозный эксперимент, не поддающийся описанию, – при всей простоте метода, использованного синефилом, режиссером и киномехаником Йоханном Лурфом. «Звезда» – гигантское, достойное Александрийской библиотеки собрание кадров ночного звездного неба, когда-либо представленных в кинематографе. Уникальный проект, который может восприниматься как IMAX-аттракцион, отправляющий в упоительное космическое путешествие. А может – и как новаторское произведение современного искусства: эта «Звезда» каждый месяц зажигается в синематеках и музеях по всему миру.
Из дотошного, сделавшего бы честь любому архивисту и вполне рационального собирания кинообразов рождается фильм-сон, симфония бесконечного пространства, балет небесных тел, магический опыт.
Награды и фестивали:
Фестиваль «Сандэнс» — участник программы New Frontier
Международный кинофестиваль в Роттердаме — участник программы «Перспективы»
Международный фестиваль документального кино CPH:DOX в Копенгагене — участник программы
Cool Connections, April 2018

Режиссер ★ Йоханн Лурф: «Синефилы точно узнают многие фильмы»
В рамках фестиваля «Новое кино Австрии» в Москве покажут экспериментальную ленту Йоханна Лурфа ★. Уникальный проект представляет собой концептуальный монтаж кадров звездного неба из более чем пятисот фильмов. Михаил Моркин обсудил с режиссером небеса, метод работы и ошибки Джеймса Кэмерона, а также узнал легкий способ проверить, какие «Звездные войны» сняты на пленку.
Йоханн Лурф — художник и кинематографист, который использует движущееся изображение, чтобы анализировать и реструктурировать пространство и кино. Он специализируется на структуралистском кино и использует в своих работах чужой готовый киноматериал, фокусируясь на изучении кинематографического языка. Лурф учился в Академии изобразительных искусств в Вене и Школе изобразительных искусств Феликса Слейда в Лондоне. В 2009 году он закончил Студию искусства и кино Харуна Фароки. ★ — первая полнометражная работа Лурфа. Проект участвовал в фестивалях «Сандэнс», CPH:DOX и МКФ в Роттердаме.
Что такое ★? Видеоарт? IMAX-фильм? Видеоэссе? Документалка?
Я стараюсь не думать о жанрах, чтобы оставаться открытым к любым видам кино или искусства в целом. Но я бы точно не стал причислять ★ к видеоарту, потому что это все-таки фильм. Он сделан для показа в кинотеатрах. Конечно, это экспериментальный или арт-фильм. В нем есть аспекты документалистики, и иногда можно услышать голос за кадром. Не хочу причислять его к конкретному жанру, потому что ★ можно воспринимать по-разному.
Я слышал, что фильм показывали в музеях.
Если там есть кинотеатральные условия: темное помещение, сидячие места, хорошие экран и звук — тогда я не против показов в музеях и галереях.
Как вам пришла в голову идея проекта?
Я учился на курсе Харуна Фароки, где мы смотрели фильмы по 2-3 раза и анализировали, как они работают. Однажды во время просмотра «Стромболи, земля Божья» Роберто Росселлини я заметил кадр звездного неба. Оно было красивым, но неправильным, не таким, каким мы представляем небо сегодня. Тогда я задумался, как этот образ показывают в разных фильмах, и понял, насколько сложно было создать кадр со звездным небом. Нужно было использовать спецэффекты, потому что света от звезд недостаточно, чтобы камера их «увидела». Меня заинтересовала интерпретация изображения звезд — существует огромное количество вариантов небес.
К каким выводам вы пришли?
Желание создать движущееся изображение звездного неба очень старое. Уже в 1930-х можно увидеть движение «через звезды». Это очень кинематографичный образ. Без движущегося изображения его нельзя было передать. До сих пор техника не сильно изменилась. Накладывание нескольких изображений друг на друга создает иллюзию двигающихся звезд. Еще я заметил, что звезды в анимационных фильмах выглядят очень реалистично, а звезды в обычных фильмах выглядят анимацией. Также было интересно наблюдать за развитием звука. Сначала был монозвук, затем стерео, затем 3 канала, 4, системы 5.1 и 7.1. Звук захватывает зрителей гораздо сильнее, чем раньше.
Было ли сложно найти деньги на проект?
Мне повезло, что в Австрии можно найти государственное финансирование на экспериментальные и арт-проекты. В моем списке фильмов было 2500 картин, поэтому мне пришлось их все пересмотреть, чтобы выбрать те 550, которые представлены в конечном результате. Тысячу фильмов из списка я посмотрел сам от начала до конца, чтобы ничего не упустить, но потом мне пришлось нанять ассистентов. Бывали и неудачные дни, когда я смотрел по пять фильмов и не находил ни одного подходящего кадра с небом.
★ в некотором роде, как и «Первому игроку приготовиться», дает зрителям почувствовать радость узнавания.
Множество отрывков очень короткие, но в то же время многие из них легко узнать из-за звукового ряда или мелодий. Синефилы точно узнают много фильмов, но большинство кадров вы не узнаете. Во всяком случае, пока не начнутся титры.
Вы не думали подписывать кадры или делить фильм на главы по декадам?
Отрывки идут в хронологическом порядке. Это поэтапное путешествие по истории кинематографа. Фильмы следуют друг за другом по мере их исторического появления, поэтому мне пришлось точно узнать даты всех премьер. Если бы я подписал кадры, то изменилось бы зрительское восприятие. Титры бы отвлекали от самого экспириенса.
Как вы отбирали отрывки?
Я вставлял все кадры, что смог найти. Единственным условием было доступность кадра в HD, 2K или 4K. Я хотел, чтобы на экране кинотеатра все выглядело максимально качественно. Мне не хотелось, чтобы старые фильмы выглядели плохо в сравнении с новыми просто из-за плохого разрешения картинки. DVD-качество ужасно в сравнении с HD. Многие кадры из старых фильмов мне специально отсканировали в киноархивах.
Вы дважды использовали кадр из «Титаника»: один из версии 1997 года и один из 3D-версии 2012 года. Разумеется, я не смог их сам определить в фильме. Они чем-то различаются?
Тут забавная история. Изображение звездного неба из оригинальной версии фильма очень плохо сделано. Часть картинки зеркально дублируется, и поэтому там можно увидеть два одинаковых созвездия. Дешевый трюк! Есть известный американский астроном (Лурф имеет в виду Нила Деграсса Тайсона — прим. ред.), который как-то высмеял Джеймса Кэмерона, потому что небо плохо сделано (астрофизик обвинил режиссера не только в дублировании изображения, но и в том, что он в целом использовал неправильный участок неба [*] — прим. ред.). В 3D-версии фильма 2012 года можно увидеть небо таким, каким оно выглядело в ночь гибели «Титаника». Поэтому я использовал оба кадра, но звук в них одинаковый. Кейт Уинслет поет up she goes что-то там.
Тут тоже есть интересный момент. Я брал кадры неба именно из титров «Звездных войн». Иногда там были только 1-2 кадра подряд без надписей, поэтому чтобы создать секвенцию мне приходилось брать кадры из нескольких мест в титрах. «Пробуждение силы» было снято на пленку, поэтому можно заметить, как звезды немного двигаются из-за движения пленки. А вот в «Изгое-один» звезды совершенно статичны, потому что это все сделано с помощью CGI. Видно, какой фильм снят на пленку, а какой — на цифру. Хотя они вышли с разницей в год!
Рекордсменом по количеству кадров звездного неба в фильмографии стал, наверное, Ридли Скотт? Я насчитал 6 его фильмов в титрах ★.
Я кстати тоже хотел посчитать режиссеров. Точно не могу сказать. Уверен, что много кадров из фильмов Дэвида Линча, Стивена Спилберга и Джона Карпентера.
У вас есть любимый кадр в ★?
Я пытаюсь не мыслить в таких категориях. Не хотелось бы выделять какой-то отдельный кадр. Мне нравится 90% кадров из ★. Они все особенные и говорят нам что-то о том времени, когда их сняли. Одним словом, много любимчиков.
Вы планируете использовать такой же метод для изучения других кинообразов?
Возможно. Но пока я не планирую использовать этот метод снова. Я достаточно долго прорабатывал концепцию, чтобы она подходила именно к ★. Новые фильмы потребуют других методов подготовки и монтажа. Можно было бы, конечно, использовать этот метод для изучения других образов, но нужно найти подходящий материал, чтобы и звуковой фон работал. В ★, например, можно услышать много монологов — люди говорят о своих проблемах и мыслях. Из этого можно понять проблематику конкретного времени.
Насколько я знаю, вы хотите, чтобы проект продолжался бесконечно, и собираетесь добавлять новые кадры по мере выхода новых фильмов.
Я планировал выпустить первую версию фильма, когда наберется хронометраж в 90 минут. Я ориентировался на длину полнометражного фильма. Однако при этом я хотел использовать все звездные небеса в истории кино, что уже сейчас невозможно из-за низкого качества картинки в старых фильмов. Я не хочу, чтобы фильм старел — нет никакой причины заканчивать 2017 годом. ★ должна всегда сохранять связь с настоящим. Я планирую добавлять не только кадры из новых фильмов, но и из старых, если вдруг найду их в хорошем качестве. Медленное расширение фильма, таким образом, соотносится с медленным расширением вселенной. Хорошая причина продолжать проект. Да и мне не придется постоянно смотреть одну и ту же версию фильма (смеется).
Тогда сломается рамка — сейчас ★ начинается и заканчивается с французского кино.
Это просто совпадение.
[*] Тайсон написал Кэмерону гневное письмо и дважды жаловался на ошибку при встрече — в итоге Кэмерон все-таки исправил ее для коллекционного DVD-издания фильма в 2007 году. Тайсон подробно и смешно рассказывает эту историю здесь.
Михаил Моркин, Kinomania, 11 апреля 2018

Quando Johann Lurf viu Stromboli reparou que na cena no topo do vulcão o céu estrelado era uma tosca composição de luzinhas sem grande rigor científico. Desde então vem recolhendo planos de céus estrelados em filmes de ficção, tendo identificado, até ao momento, mais de 550 títulos. ★ é o filme que compila cronologicamente todos esses planos. Uma viagem pelo espaço astral que passeia também pela história do cinema: os vários formatos e suportes, os sistemas de cor e som e a evolução dos efeitos especiais. Um lúdico ensaio que inclui planos de dois filmes portugueses. Consegue adivinhar quais são?
Indielisboa in April 2018

Para sua estreia no cinema, o estruturalista austríaco Johann Lurf escolheu as estrelas do cinema. Não os atores e atrizes, mas os pequenos pontos de luz do céu noturno extraídos de diversas obras, foram usados trechos de cerca de 550 filmes, desde a origem do cinema até os dias atuais, num projeto a ser expandido anualmente. Esses céus estelares, tirados de seu contexto original e mantendo intacto o áudio dos filmes (ruídos, músicas, diálogos) são campos de escuridão plenos de possibilidades. A edição de Lurf – com base na sua metodologia de manter o som, a imagem e duração de cada clipe – leva o público a uma jornada pelo cosmos.
Indie Festival São Paulo, September 2018

映画史に残る550本の作品の星空を写したショットのみで構成される、ファンタスティックな映像体験。 人類にとって絶対で不変であるイメージ、星空。映画史における星空シーンを時系列に並べることで、それぞ れの時代にどのように映画が星空を描いていたかが見えてくる。オーストリアの最注目映像作家、ヨハン・ラ ーフの長編デビュー作は、映画史に残る550作品から引用された星空のショットのみで構成。本作には終わ りがなく、最新映画から星空のフッテージが加わって積み重ねられていくという、歴史的であると同時に現代 的であるというコンセプトを持っている。
Image Forum Festival Tokyo, September 2019

何かに答えを出すのではなく、宇宙に瞬く星の数ほどの問いを提示する作品。オーストリアの構造映画作家ヨハン・ラーフが初めての長編作品に 選んだ題材は独創的で、限りない広がりを持つ。映画の中の星たちである。映画スターのことではない。夜空に輝く星々、闇の中で点々と輝く光が、映画の黎明期から現在までのさまざまな作品から引用される。毎年更新され続ける予定のプロジェクトなのだ。もとの文脈から切り離され、音声はそのままに--- 環境音楽的なハミング、壮大なオーケストラの演奏、学者風の説明、夢見がちな思索など--- 星空を映した時間の断片たち は、あらゆる可能性が散りばめられた不思議な暗闇の広がりとなる。ジャズを思わせるようなラーフの編集は、それぞれのクリップの長さやイメー ジ、音声をそのまま使うという方法論に基づき、穏やかにじっくり見せるかと思えば小刻みに弾み、バランスを保っている。観客は、宇宙から発散さ れる希望と脅威を帯びたトーンを行き来する旅にいざなわれる。映画ではっきりと捉えることが不可能に近いほど難しい題材であるがゆえに、私 たちはいぶし銀の芸術家や特殊効果の魔術師によるさまざまな星空の解 釈に繰り返し出会う。あるときは沈黙と静止を、あるときはまばゆく光る星雲や遠くに光る点、その間の漆黒の空間を猛スピードで進むさまを見つめる。映画史における宇宙空間への固執と逃避を概観することで、それぞれの時代の観客が空の上に何を見ていたのかもわかる。と同時にそこには、私たち自身が驚嘆しながら星空を見あげるときの内なる感情も映し出されている。畏怖、恐れ、希望、尊大なまでの自信、メランコリックな憧れ、そして虚無、荘厳な沈黙。普通は映写機に背を向けている映画の観客が、自分たちに向けて放たれる光と直面する稀な瞬間がここにある。私たちの目が、星空の映画を映すスクリーンになるのだ。
ダニエル・カ スマン/2017年8月

요한 루프는 우주개발, 군산복합체나 사회적 감시를 매개하는 공간과 이미지의 역사를 재구성하기 위한 구조적 접근과 필름의 물질성에 관심을 둔 다양한 형태의 작품을 발표해왔다. 오스트리아 실험영화의 전통 속에서 헐리우드의 상징을 재구성한 대표적인 파운드 푸티지 작품인 <12개의 이야기>(2014)로부터 최근에 이르기까지 산업적 이미지 혹은 이미지 산업에 대한 관심을 중심으로 구조영화의 역사적 한계를 극복하기 위한 다양한 방법을 모색해 오고 있다. 그는 빈 예술대학에서 시각예술을, 슬레이드 예술대학에서 영상을 공부했으며, 이후 2009년 하룬 파로키의 영화 클래스를 졸업했다. 2017년 겨울 비엔날레 영화제에서 일반에 첫 공개된 이후 2018년 선댄스 영화제를 시작으로 북미와 유럽에서 현재 가장 주목받고 있는 실험영화인 요한 루프의 <별 ★>은 감독의 첫 장편 데뷔작이다. 이 영화를 처음 접한 많은 사람들은 더글라스 고든의 <24시간 사이코>(1993) 혹은 크리스천 마클레이 <시계>(2010)를 떠올리며 개념적이기보다는 낭만적인 방식으로, 기술적 프로그래밍에 의한 이미지의 추출보다는 강력한 몽타주 구성으로 기왕의 메타 영화적 실천의 계보를 잇는 2018년의 가장 중요한 작품이 될 것이라 극찬을 보내는 중이다. 미술사학자인 노암 엘콧이 <인공적 암흑 Artificial Darkness>을 통해 우리가 잊고 있던 영화사의 “어둠”의 중요성을 미디어 고고학적 관점에서 상기시켜주었던 것처럼, 요한 루프의 <별 ★>은 극영화, 프로파간다, 교육영화, 홍보영화 등 100년간의 영화사 중에서 500여 편이 넘는 작품에서 밤하늘에 별이 나오는 장면만을 편집해 만든 작품이다. 밤하늘의 별을 통해 드러나는 서사적 특이성과 보편성, 영화 장치의 발전 과정, 모노사운드로부터 7.1채널에 이르는 사운드의 변화가 우리가 이 작품을 통해 우선적으로 경험할 수 있는 것들이다.
Hangjun Lee in April 2018

요한 루프는 오스트리아를 중심으로 활동하는 필름 메이커로, 산업 기술의 발전과 함께 발전해 온 영화 이미지의 역사와 그것이 만들어내는 인공적인 현실 세계에 내재된 정치적, 사회적 함의를 고찰해왔다. 이번 전시에 소개되는 파운드 푸티지 영화 ★ 은 영화사 전체를 거슬러 올라가며 밤하늘이 등장하는 장면만을 발췌하여 연대기 순으로 편집해 놓은 작품이다. 흔히, 밤하늘 이미지는 영화를 볼 때 간과되는 장면이지만, 본 작품에서는 그 속에 복잡하게 얽혀 있는 메타적 지층을 감지하도록 이끄는 주요 매개체로 기능한다.
★ 은 별을 지칭하는 기호로 표기된 작품 표제가 이미 함축하듯, 특정한 서사 없이 사실적이면서도 추상적인 모습으로 재현되는 밤하늘 장면들 - 거대한 밤하늘, 떨어져 내리는 별똥별, 신비로운 은하, 폭발적 섬광, 광활한 우주 등 - 을 채집하여 정교하게 배치하는 고전적인 몽타주 방식으로 별의 역사를 기술해나간다. 이러한 서술 방식의 특이성은 이 작품이 무한하고 심오한 별의 세계를 환상적이고 낭만적으로 묘사하며 새로운 형식의 우주 영화 궤도에 진입하는 동시에, 물리적 대상으로서 별이 영화적 기술 매체를 통해 표현되는 방식에 투사되어 있는 사회적, 역사적, 문화적 지층들을 간접적으로 드러내 보이는데 있다.
어떠한 변형 없이 본래 길이와 사운드, 그 형식을 그대로 유지한 채 잘려져 나온 각각의 클립들의 집합적 구성은 우선적으로 기술의 발전과 각 시대의 시각적 경향에 따라 달라지는 이미지 표현 기법, 그리고 무성영화시대에서 오늘날에 이르기까지 사운드의 변화 양상을 보여준다. 그러나 별의 지층을 탐색하는 여정은 영화사 내부로부터 출현하는 역사적 층위를 객관적으로 들춰내는 것을 넘어선다. 별의 운동성을 포착하는 카메라 특유의 움직임, 서로 다른 언어와 어조의 대화 클립들, 다양한 장르의 배경 음악 등이 어우러져 구축되는 영화적 시공간은 ‘★’ 이라는 상징적 메타포가 응축하고 있는 다층의 의미들을 재탐색할 수 있는 시적 공간을 동시에 구성해 낸다. 영화 속에서 밤하늘은 시간의 흐름, 사건의 전환, 특정한 주제나 이념을 표상하는 등 다양한 역할을 수행해 왔다. 떨어져 나온 밤하늘 이미지들은 원본 영화와의 미약한 연결고리를 유지하며, 발췌된 이미지 전후의 삭제된 문맥들과 별 이미지 자체에 잠복하고 있는 의미들을 현재 시점에서 새롭게 각성하도록 이끌어감으로써 무한한 서사의 출현 가능성을 예고한다.
★ 은 현재까지도 발견되는 장면들이 계속적으로 삽입되며 확장해나가는 중이다. 확정된 러닝 타임을 상정할 수 없는 형식 속에서 시도되는 이 작품의 연대기 기술 방법이 지닌 흥미로움은 이것이 하나의 선형적 역사가 아니라, 여러 개의 복수의 역사가 동시적으로 출현할 수 있는 독특한 성좌 구조를 형성한다는데 있다. 이 재현 세계가 구축해 놓은 뒤틀린 시간 감각을 경험하는 과정은 우리로 하여금 분명하게 인식되는 것과 그렇지 못한 것 사이의 간극을 주체적으로 응시하고 사유하도록 요청한다. 이는 이 소우주의 세계가 이미 연속적인 시간의 흐름을 중지시킬 수 있는 순간을, 즉 새로운 성좌를 주체적으로 구성해낼 수 있는 힘을 자신의 내부에 소유하고 있음을 의미한다. 이 지점에서 ★ 은 별에 관한 이미지 수집과 기록의 저장소로 기능하는 아카이브를 넘어, 기술 장치에 의해 만들어진 인공적 현재성이 연출하는 가상현실과 인간의 지각 체계와 결탁하는 방식을 폭로하고, 이를 거슬러 우리 앞에 놓인 현재를 기민하게 재탐색하기를 제안하는 사회적이고 역사적인 영화가 된다.
Taein Kim for the exhibition 시간 밖의 기록자들 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Busan in September 2019

Gwiaździsta noc spogląda na filmowych bohaterów od samych początków kina. Austriacki artysta Johann Lurf układa ujęcia nocnego nieba chronologicznie, tworząc niezwykły atlas gwiazd. Jego koronkowy film jest niezwykłą podróżą przez czasoprzestrzeń. Reżyser pokazuje fiksację kina na punkcie kosmosu i wachlarz emocji, jakie wzbudzał on w bohaterach i widzach: od lęku i zachwytu w pierwszych niemych filmach, przez nadzieję i arogancką butę zdobywców kosmosu, po melancholię. Prezentowanym konstelacjom towarzyszą oryginalne ścieżki dźwiękowe: ambientowe szumy, wielkie partie orkiestrowe oraz pedantyczne wyjaśnienia i marzycielskie spekulacje. Filmowa noc jest wypełniona wieloma językami, perspektywami, nadziejami. Spojrzenie w niebo przywołuje najpiękniejsze i najsmutniejsze momenty w historii kina, jest symfonią nocnych lęków i nadziei ludzkości. ★ to film dla niepoprawnych marzycieli, astrologów amatorów i zakochanych.
Ewa Szabłowska, New Horizons Festival Wrocław in July 2018

W tegoroczną Noc Muzeów zamiast gonić między instytucjami proponujemy zostać w kinie i popatrzeć w gwiaździste niebo!
Wizualny esej Austriaka Johanna Lurfa to podróż przez czas, przestrzeń i historię kina. Artysta zestawia wizerunki nocnego gwiaździstego nieba od wczesnych, niemych jeszcze filmów do współczesności, tworząc nieco melancholijną opowieść o fantazjach o ucieczce i marzeniach o spotkaniu z Innym. Kosmiczna perspektywa łączy się tu z bardzo ziemską. To ludzkie sprawy – miłość, szczęście i tragedie rozgrywają się pod wspólnym niebem. To swoiste filmowe planetarium – misternie wybrane oraz zmontowane fragmenty z ponad pół tysiąca filmów jest także wypowiedzią o samym kinie – nocne niebo to przecież ekran, na który padają historie, wysyłane nam przez gwiazdy sprzed setek tysięcy lat.
U-jazdwoski Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw in May 2019

"E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle". Canto XXXIV. Ultimo verso dell'Inferno di Dante. Esageriamo? No. Ecco una magnifica notte stellata: tre film che filano come una cometa e percorrono la storia del cinema. Da dove arriva questa fascinazione per gli astri? Nel 1912 un'eclissi parziale di sole viene filmata da Luca Comerio. In Stellar Stan Brakhage dipinge a mano la pellicola. La rifotografa ingrandendo dettagli la cui trama lascia emergere galassie sconosciute. Con ☆ Johann Lurf ha iniziato a raccogliere tutti i cieli stellati della storia del cinema. Perché? Con Dante potremmo dire: per un momento di pura felicità dello sguardo.
Rinaldo Censi, Cineteca Bologna in February 2018

*, il simbolo della stella, è il titolo dell’ultimo lavoro di Johann Lurf, presentato a Bologna in occasione di Art City. Il giovane filmmaker austriaco si serve di un simbolo evocativo, che forse ad alcuni avrà subito richiamato alla memoria un'altra stella comparsa nel 2016 sulla copertina dell’ultimo album di David Bowie e, come questo starman per definizione, Lurf ci invita ad affrontare la sua personalissima space oddity attraverso un found footage, altamente cinefilo, montando una serie infinita di sequenze cinematografiche nelle quali compaiono delle rappresentazioni della volta celeste.
L’attenta ricerca di Lurf, non ancora conclusasi, è già previsto l’ampliamento del film, non poteva che avere origine dalla visione della splendida notte stellata che avvolge l’isola di Stromboli (1950) a cui Ingrid Bergman rivolge la sua disperata preghiera, un input che ha fatto scattare il desiderio di scovare nell’archivio della propria memoria tutti i film che hanno come protagonisti, anche solo per pochi minuti, dei cieli stellati, una raccolta che alterna semplici sguardi rivolti al cielo ad avventurose spedizioni nell’universo.
Già in passato Lurf ha mostrato il suo interesse per lo spazio girando Endeavour (2010), un montaggio di filmati della NASA che riprende il lancio di uno shuttle. Comune è l’ambito di indagine, ma in queste immagini realistiche le esplorazioni spaziali non hanno di certo l’aura misteriosa e fantascientifica della collezione di cieli notturni di *. La presenza del sonoro in entrambi i casi crea un flusso disarmonico che ritroviamo nell’intera filmografia di Lurf, le tracce musicali solo accennate, le comunicazioni via radio interrotte e i dialoghi appena abbozzati, mettono in maggior risalto quello che all’autore preme, in « il disorientamento sensoriale viene amplificato dallo scorrere delle sequenze, estrapolate da contesti filmici di cui non abbiamo nessuna indicazione – se non l’aiuto di una buona memoria visiva – Lurf si fa portavoce di una ricerca che trova le proprie radici nelle sperimentazioni dei primi pionieri del cinema. Con il passare del tempo le tecnologie sempre più avanzate e il progredire degli studi astronomici, non sembrano aver favorito una resa realistica dei cieli stellati che, spiega Lurf, nel 99 % dei casi sono frutto dell’immaginazione di chi ne ha curato la messa in scena; anche in Stromboli le costellazioni, se osservate con più attenzione, sono completamente sbagliate.
È quindi la fantasia ad aver giocato un ruolo di primo piano nella rappresentazione del cielo notturno, una libertà d’espressione che ha origini lontane e trova nel cinema uno degli ultimi interpreti. Penso all’astrazione del cielo nelle decorazioni musive del Mausoleo di Galla Placidia a Ravenna (V secolo), alla volta celeste della Cappella degli Scrovegni dipinta da Giotto a Padova (1303-05) e all’esplosione luminosa degli astri nella Notte stellata (1889) di Vincent van Gogh, solo per citare alcune delle opere più celebri. Lurf troverebbe altrettante fonti nell’ambito della storia dell’arte, e molto probabilmente come è accaduto di fronte al cielo di Roberto Rossellini si stupirebbe nello scoprire che nella disposizione, a prima vista realistica, degli elementi astronomici dipinti da Adam Elsheimer ne La fuga in Egitto (1609) qualcosa non torna.
Come di fronte a un trompe-l’oeil, inganno visivo più o meno illusorio, il regista ci chiede di abbandonarci davanti alla sublimazione della realtà che lo schermo fatica a contenere.
Lurf esplora dei paesaggi naturali in cui non è contemplata la presenza dell’uomo, in sua mancanza analizza l’ambiente in cui questo agisce come accade in Vertigo Rush (2007), qui l’effetto Vertigo sperimentato da Alfred Hitchcock serve a sondare la profondità di un bosco stravolto dal passaggio dal giorno alla notte; in RECONNAISSANCE (2012) e EMBARGO (2014) sono i movimenti impercettibili delle luci e dello sfondo a mettere a dura prova la percezione di questi scenari desolati.
In * ogni traccia umana viene eliminata durante il montaggio, una assenza di cui le voci dei protagonisti sembrano essere l’unico riverbero sopravvissuto nell’ignoto spazio profondo, se è vero, come racconta Ludovico Ariosto ne L’Orlando Furioso, che nell’universo nulla va perduto, sono forse queste le preghiere, le lacrime e i sospiri degli amanti? Lo sguardo, ipnotizzato dallo schermo cinematografico trasformatosi in un planetario, si perde nell’immensità dello spazio, mentre una resistenza, la definirei un automatismo, combatte contro questo abbandono sensoriale, cercando a tutti i costi di riconoscere i film da cui provengono i fotogrammi.
“Ground Control to Major Tom”, ci sembra di sentire, un ultimo fievole richiamo, ma la Terra è ormai lontana più di centomila miglia.
Cecilia Cristiani, Cinefilia Ritrovata 10 febbraio 2018

Colpito dal cielo stellato “incongruo” in una scena notturna di Stromboli di Rossellini visto a lezione, il regista ha cominciato a mettere insieme mentalmente – componendo una lista di 2400 titoli – tutte le immagini di cieli notturni stellati della storia del cinema. Il film realizzato a partire da questa os- sessione consta invece di estratti da 550 film montati in ordine cronologico, privi di sottotitoli, ma ricchi di altre informazioni indirette come l’ambientazione geografica e storica, le modalità di realizzazione della scena, lo stato d’animo associato alle diverse rappresentazioni del firmamento.
Johann Lurf (Austria 1982), artista e regista, ha studiato all’Accademia di Belle Arti di Vienna, alla Slade School di Londra e si è diplomato con Harun Farocki. Lavora con le immagini in movimento, analizzando e ristrutturando lo spazio e il cinema. Realizza film ‘osservazionali’ e documentari caratterizzati dalla riflessione sul linguaggio cinematografico, prevalentemente con un approccio strutturalista, spesso con l’utilizzo di found footage. I suoi lavori (una dozzina fra corti e documentari) sono stati selezionati e premiati in tutto il mondo. ★ è il suo esordio nel lungometraggio.
54a Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema Pesaro, June 2018

★ The Ultimate Voyage through Space and Time
L’uomo del Paleolitico guardava il cielo stellato
come oggi noi guardiamo il cinema
Alexander Kluge
Ascola chi é Johann Lurf
Dopo una serie di corti sperimentali, molto apprezzati e premiati, come “Vertigo Rush”, titolo hitchcockiano per una serie di dolly zoom su scatti naturalistici abbinati a sonorità sinusoidali e sintetiche e “Kreis wr.Neustadt”, un giro in Vespa attorno a un centinaio di rotonde nel sud dell’Austria, follie ed orrori architettonici montate su marce grattate e rombi di motore, Johann Lurf ha girato il suo primo lungometraggio seguendo un’intuizione avuta anni prima mentre guardava “Stromboli” di Roberto Rossellini durante le lezioni di Harun Farocki.
Ascolta come é nata l'idea
550 film dal 1904 al 2017 in rigoroso ordine cronologico (in un progetto che prevede una continua espansione di anno in anno per aggiungere i film più recenti o inserirne altri dimenticati) ed elencati puntualmente nei lunghissimi titoli di coda: un found footage della volta celeste senza altri elementi che le stelle stesse, con l’orizzonte sgombro da qualsiasi altro elemento… linguaggio universale del cinema riproposto ed esemplificato dal segno grafico del titolo.
Ascolta perché ha scelto un simbolo
Attingendo a ricordi personali e di amici, a testi, locandine e ricerche di archivio nelle cineteche, sono stati assemblati intere sequenze ma anche singoli fotogrammi di cieli stellati (con l’unico criterio selettivo di film disponibili in digitale in altissima risoluzione) senza mai alterarne le immagini, -né accellerandole né rallentandole, o mettendole maggiormente a fuoco - in una struttura creativa estremamente fluida per mostrare come il cielo cambi in base al tipo di film e al periodo storico, così come alle proiezioni e alle percezioni del singolo spettatore.
Nonostante l’approccio visivo-visuale sia assolutamente preponderante vi è nel montaggio una traccia musicale seguibile nel particolarissimo uso del sonoro che a sua volta passa da quello mono allo stereo al surround.
Ascolta l'utilizzo e gli effetti del sonoro
Un film che è anche un'esperienza immaginifica ed immersiva da gustare rigorosamente nel buio di una sala cinematografica ove “entrammo a riveder le stelle”.
Grazie ad Anna Ribotta per la preziosa traduzione
Monica Macchi, Forma Cinema, June 30th 2018

Lurf costruisce un procedimento asintòtico, votato all'espansione della stessa idea progettuale che oiginariamente include 550 frammenti da altrettante opere cinematografiche dalle origini fino al 2017. Nonostante la collocazione cronologica dei segmenti e la conservazione dei confini del frame , il time travel visivo-aurale di ★ non ha forma né confini, si espande come il nostro sguardo, finalmente disancorato dai limiti di uno schermo
L’interesse di Johann Lurf per la struttura ha una qualità fortemente deleuziana, come per il grande filosofo francese, il promettente cineasta viennese si serve di alcuni principi matematici per individuare il punto in cui la rappresentazione dogmatica del pensiero si spezza per aprirsi verso sistemi dinamici e non lineari. Prima di questo lungometraggio, gli esperimenti che Lurf ha affrontato nell’ambito del cinema breve potrebbero rientrare a pieno titolo nella ricerca inerente il “found footage” a patto di abbandonare l’idea di un cinema d’archivio o del “riutilizzo”, orientato alla documentazione, alla ri-scrittura della Storia, all’individuazione di “altri” percorsi narrativi.
L’invisibile che procede dal visibile, pur essendo quasi sempre al centro dei progetti di ri-mediazione, anche quelli più normativi, nel cinema di Lurf estremizza l’interstizio, assegnandogli una posizione prioritaria e creando quindi altre forme di vuoto, del tutto inedite, nello studio dell’immagine tempo. Scarti, code di raccordo su pellicola, gesti sospesi dal taglio e da violentissimi jump cuts, questo è il percorso dell’artista austriaco attraverso il grande archivio “conosciuto” del cinema mainstream globale.
Da una parte la vicinanza del tutto affettiva alla neo-avanguardia statunitense di Morgan Fisher, Bruce Connor e al cinema di Michael Snow, dall’altra c’è la ricerca della differenza come fattore esterno alla ripetizione della serie, aspetto che emerge più evidente in ★.
La volta celeste, le nebulose, lo spazio siderale, noi e le stelle. Attraverso 550 film dalle origini del cinema fino al 2017 Lurf costruisce un viaggio visuale e aurale, isolando lo spazio profondo, la sua simulazione attraverso le diverse tecniche impiegate, ma anche la rappresentazione di un punto di vista che dal basso, guarda verso l’alto. Siamo contenuti ma anche cornice rispetto all’immagine, inghiottiti o sovrastati, mentre guardiamo ★ mancano i volti, ma il planetario di “Rebel Without a Cause”, il cielo che spaura il cor sopra lo “Stromboli” rosselliniano, mantengono ancora una vicinanza tattile allo specchio dello schermo.
Il lavoro di Lurf insieme all’ingegnere del suono Nils Kirchhoff, tende a trattenere la consistenza materica dei rumori, dei residui di sfx e delle parole, ricercando l’integrità della sequenza “stellare” e quindi tagliandone la continuità, con una frammentazione del discorso sonoro, che più delle immagini evidenzia lo scarto e il salto.
Quello che Lurf costruisce è un procedimento asintòtico, votato all’espansione della stessa idea progettuale, nonostante la collocazione cronologica dei segmenti e la conservazione dei confini del frame, anzi è proprio la rinuncia alla normalizzazione, ai crops dell’immagine, alla sua ri-quadratura, a favore del formato originale soprattutto quando incongruo tra un salto e l’altro, ad aprirne le mille possibilità per superarne i limiti.
Ne deriva un time-travel sorprendente e allusivo, dove il relitto del discorso narrativo affidato solamente alla scheggia aurale, ha la stessa posizione di una radiofrequenza captata altrove e improvvisamente perduta.
Su un piano diverso si potrebbe ricorrere all’illusione pareidolitica o all’apofenia, nella connessione casuale tra i diversi patterns visivi che rappresentano la volta celeste o il viaggio nello spazio, diversa per tecniche impiegate, così vicina alla scienza e alla struttura neuronale.
Quella con il cervello non è una considerazione peregrina, perchè il viaggio visivo-auditivo di Lurf sembra ripetere il procedimento delle trasmissioni elettriche nel sistema sinaptico, con un bombadamento che costringe a nuove associazioni attraverso una reinvenzione del montaggio che a nostro avviso guarda a quello originario delle attrazioni come alla fisica quantistica. Ma c’è anche una dimensione visuale, se per visuale intendiamo un sistema in movimento che come un organismo viene sottoposto a processi morfogenetici.
Facile e difficile quindi riferirsi alla “blackstar” bowiana ideata dal geniale Jonathan Barnbrook. Facile perché la scelta di affidarsi ad un codice ascii (il 9733) è evidente. Molto meno esposta l’idea di cercare in questa sintesi, la partenza per un’operazione di smontaggio e disseminazione di tutte le possibilità segniche.
Sull’everything di Bowie/Barnbrook abbiamo già dedicato un percorso articolato, l’unico in Italia, avvicinando quell’idea a molte altre stelle (Michael Moorcock, Tanya Harris, Frank Stella, Peter Ackroyd, Steven Lippman), per raccontarne le intenzioni e le possibilità polisemiche. Questo è l’aspetto più importante della “stella” di Lurf, non ha forma né confini, si espande come il nostro sguardo, finalmente disancorato dai limiti di uno schermo.
Michele Faggi on Indie Eye, June 21st 2018

Basterebbe solo il titolo a raccontare l’inafferrabilità da esperimento in divenire dell’ultimo lavoro di Johann Lurf. Questo simbolo grafico a forma stella, che già rischia di mandare in tilt la formattazione dei nostri programmi di scrittura, è immediatamente refrattario a una lettura unica, certa, definitiva. “Cambia secondo la lingua dello spettatore”, dice Lurf, ambendo magari a un universalismo di senso che superi le distanze tra gli idiomi, oltre la “torre di Babele” dispersa nei frammenti delle parole “non sottotitolate” che accompagnano le mille notti stellate della storia del cinema. Un cinema ripreso dopo il crollo, fatto di macerie, di spezzoni isolati, resti o reperti. E ricomposto da Lurf innanzitutto sulla base della convenzione cronologica e poi secondo un sistema tutto personale di assonanze visive e sonore. Dall’epoca del muto ai giorni nostri, all’incirca 550 film (puntualmente elencati in chiusura), ripresi solo per estratti, le sequenze di volte stellate. Stelle fisse, cadenti, offuscate, comete, meteore, satelliti e pianeti, stelle reali o in grandissima parte “finte”, ricreate o computer o dipinte su fondali. Non c’è nessun intervento da parte dell’autore austriaco, nessuna evidente manipolazione da postproduzione. Solo compilazione, un catalogo purissimo. Riproposto però nella modalità di riproduzione più fedele possibile agli originali, su grande schermo, in alta definizione, con un sistema sonoro in grado di dar conto dell’evoluzione tecnologica nel corso dei decenni. Come se Lurf inseguisse l’utopia della coincidenza tra il cinema fatto e visto.
Ma il logogramma, pur suggerendo immediatamente il suo contenuto, ha comunque bisogno di essere articolato in parola, va tradotto e così ritorna alla divisione delle lingue particolari. Ed è il segno che, in qualche modo, quella ★ vada riempita, rimodulata dalla nostra esperienza personale, dal nostro sistema di riferimenti e di espressioni. Insomma, ad andare in crisi è la stessa tenuta del testo filmico, che dichiara sin da subito, dal titolo appunto, la sua infinita declinabilità. E quindi la sua precarietà. Star, Stella, Stern, o comunque lo si voglia chiamare, è un oggetto che per forza di cosa non chiude, si smargina, offre il fianco alla svista eventuale, alla dimenticanza, a tutte le immagini ancora non girate, alle stelle ancora da inquadrare, si presta alla possibilità di interventi diversi, di aggiunte e tagli che seguono l’arbitrio della durata di proiezione, dei saperi, dei criteri selettivi (nell’elenco non c’è nessun documentario, ad esempio, “sono più interessato all’interpretazione dell’immagine che alla sua rappresentazione attuale” dice Lurf…). Del resto, sebbene le immagini siano molto spesso simili, perché “le costellazioni son quelle”, quante vedute occorrerebbero per mappare l’intera volta celeste, dai margini di un polo all’altro? E quanti punti di vista? Ecco, questione ancor più fondamentale, il catalogo di Lurf mette in discussione anche la sua posizione d’autore. Non solo e non tanto perché tutto è lasciato alle immagini altrui. Ma ancor più perché nella ricerca e nella compilazione intervengono i ricordi, i suggerimenti, le segnalazioni, gli archivi di decine e decine di amici e collaboratori. Quasi come il Beuys di 7000 Oaks, Lurf inventa un’opera aperta, da integrare e coltivare nel tempo, da lasciare all’immaginazione e alle cure delle generazioni future. Un intervento di sky art che, ancor più, concede a noi spettatori la libertà di un percorso del tutto personale, eccentrico, nomade. Perché al di là dello sforzo vano (e francamente inutile) di riconoscere le fonti e individuare le mancanze, al di là della suggestione immersiva della composizione visiva e sonora di Lurf, il vero fascino di quei cieli stellati sta nelle mille vie d’uscita che si aprono tra le sequenze e che ci regalano la possibilità di andare alla deriva, per i fatti nostri, nel flusso ininterrotto delle immagini.
Aldo Spiniello on Sentieri Selvaggi, June 24th 2018

Mio Dio è pieno di stelle
Colpito dal cielo stellato “incongruo” in una scena notturna di Stromboli di Rossellini visto a lezione, il regista ha cominciato a mettere insieme mentalmente – componendo una lista di 2400 titoli – tutte le immagini di cieli notturni stellati della storia del cinema. Il film realizzato a partire da questa ossessione consta invece di estratti da 550 film montati in ordine cronologico, privi di sottotitoli, ma ricchi di altre informazioni indirette come l’ambientazione geografica e storica, le modalità di realizzazione della scena, lo stato d’animo associato alle diverse rappresentazioni del firmamento… [sinossi]
L’uomo del Paleolitico guardava il cielo stellato come oggi noi guardiamo il cinema: è un’affermazione di Alexander Kluge che riporta Johann Lurf. L’uomo pretecnologico ammirava quell’affascinante volta celeste fatta di puntini luminosi, come sfondo scenografico, senza poterne comprendere la natura, collegando quei puntini, di diversa luminosità, tra loro, come quei giochi della Settimana enigmistica, proiettandovi figure, popolando il cielo di carri, sagittari, animali, figure mitologiche. Il sistema tolemaico prevedeva le sfere celesti, dove gli astri sono fissati, mentre Pitagora ravvisava un equilibrio armonico universale, la musica delle sfere. Con il progresso astronomico, è diventato evidente quanto il cielo stellato rappresenti invece la nullità del genere umano sulla Terra, il suo essere solo un’infinitesima particella del pulviscolo cosmico, l’umiliazione definitiva di ogni residuo antropocentrismo. Ognuna delle innumerevoli stelle è un proiettore, il cui fascio di luce arriva a noi coprendo distanze inimmaginabili. E, anzi, molte di queste fonti luminose, sono ormai spente ma continuiamo a vederle perché la loro irradiazione sta ancora viaggiando nel cosmo. Se il cinema è fatto da un fascio luminoso, da luci e ombre, la volta celeste è un’alternanza di luce e buio. E i planetari, quei dispositivi che ricreano la volta stellata sullo schermo di una cupola, come le sfere tolemaiche, fanno uso di proiettori non tanto lontani da quelli del cinema. Come il planetario di Gioventù bruciata, che ovviamente è compreso in ★, dove James Dean si interroga sul mondo. Il buio del cielo è il nulla–tutto che è lo specifico del cinema, ovvero il puro vuoto dell’obiettivo cinematografico, come afferma enrico ghezzi. E possiamo apprezzare e studiare questo reticolo celeste grazie a obiettivi e teleobiettivi, lenti di cannocchiali sempre più potenti, come quelle degli osservatori astronomici.
Con l’operazione di ★, presentato alla Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema di Pesaro, Johann Lurf riduce il cinema a quella stessa consistenza di pulviscolo quasi informe, a un blob a tema, un ammasso di frammenti di pellicola come corpuscoli, resi ancor più indistinti dagli stacchi netti e veloci che tagliano bruscamente anche l’audio, sempre originale. Ogni frammento diviene così una cellula ritmica, componendo una partitura visiva-sonora inedita, che si conclude sui titoli di coda, dove scorre l’elenco dei film, con le note di musica elettronica della kubrickiana Wendy Carlos. L’unico ordine rimasto in questo flusso è quello cronologico della storia del cinema, coprendola quasi per intero, per 112 anni partendo dal 1905. Partendo dalle stelle rappresentate simbolicamente con la classica simbologia a cinque punte, nel cinema delle attrazioni, arrivando a una puntinatura semplice e fissa, ottenuta da qualche supporto dipinto o con sovraimpressioni, il cui unico movimento poteva essere quello laterale di macchina. Grazie all’evoluzione degli effetti speciali si arriva all’illusione di tridimensionalità, con effetti prospettici generati da illusori travelling in avanti o all’indietro, anche con accellerazioni brusche. E ora il cinema arriva a comporre arazzi bellissimi di nebulose, spirali, galassie, comete, pulsar, nove e supernove. La storia del cinema attraverso l’evoluzione delle sue rappresentazioni del cosmo, tanto quello attraversato da astronavi nei film di fantascienza, tanto il cielo contemplato dalla Terra in ogni tipo di film. Un’operazione utopica nell’impossibilità di censirli tutti, di creare un archivio totale, così come utopico in astronomia è catalogare tutti gli astri. E Johann Lurf si pone l’obiettivo, altrettanto idealistico di proseguire da quel “To be continued” nei titoli di coda, inseguendo i cieli del cinema, aggiungendo progressivamente nuovi frammenti, man mano che usciranno film con scene di stelle. Un’arte, la settima, che si espanderà potenzialmente all’infinito come l’universo, a partire dal suo big bang collocato nel 1895, o nel 1905 nel primo cielo del cinema, in Rêve à la lune di Gaston Velle e Ferdinand Zecca (e ★ si conclude, al momento di questa proiezione a Pesaro, con Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets di Luc Besson).
«Mio Dio è pieno di stelle!», esclama David Bowman di 2001: Odissea nello spazio (nei romanzi di Arthur C. Clarke, non nel film), prima di essere risucchiato dal monolito e iniziare quel viaggio che Kubrick ha visulizzato come un trip allucinatorio. Così è il trip cui ci conduce Johann Lurf.
Giampiero Raganelli on Quinlan, June 26th 2018

Il primo lungometraggio di Johann Lurf è un lavoro unico fin dai dettagli anagrafici. Il titolo è il simbolo di una stella: ognuno può pronunciarlo nella propria lingua, così come il cielo stellato, unico protagonista di questa avventura sensoriale, è uno solo sopra le nostre teste eppure sempre diverso negli occhi di chi guarda. La durata attuale di 100 minuti è provvisoria: include estratti da più di 550 film che Lurf è riuscito a ottenere in qualità adeguata alla proiezione, ma avendo finora rintracciato più di 2.400 titoli in cui sia presente almeno un'inquadratura del cielo stellato (e questo soltanto: senza nuvole, luna, orizzonte, astronavi o altri oggetti), il progetto è destinato ad espandersi come l'universo a cui guarda. Come si sarà capito, ★ non offre altro da vedere che le stelle, così come sono state viste al cinema dalle origini a oggi, ovvero, essendo queste tra gli oggetti più ardui da fotografare, come registi, direttori della fotografia, tecnici degli effetti speciali e del suono, hanno ricostruito l'esperienza per gli spettatori. Il rettilineo visivo del film, che dispone spezzoni anche brevissimi in ordine rigorosamente cronologico e rispettando i vari formati, sembra quasi un'opera di animazione astratta, che ci piomba in una lunga soggettiva “oltre l'infinito”, come fossimo su un'astronave dispersa tra detriti alieni, senza tracce umane in vista.
Eppure il sonoro, integralmente conservato dalle fonti, che ci avvolge progressivamente con l'evolversi dei sistemi audio, ci ricorda che quella che stiamo attraversando è la stessa storia del cinema, e la nostra. I dialoghi descrittivi o enfatici (senza sottotitoli), le colonne sonore e il suono d'ambiente riempiono questa affascinante desolazione figurativa, ce la rendono come uno sguardo aperto alle speranze e alle minacce che hanno sempre accompagnato la visione dello spazio. Ci ricordano insomma che il controcampo di queste immagini è l'umanità stessa, a cui la volta celeste appartiene non tanto come terreno di conquista, quanto come limite verso cui proiettare desideri e paure. Proprio come il cinema, nella cui oscurità quell'umanità continua a riunirsi.
Mentre eravamo in sala a Filmmaker tre anni fa per il suo omaggio in Fuori Formato, di fronte all'ipnotica ripetizione delle immagini di un altro suo found footage spaziale, Endeavour, Johann mi disse che amava particolarmente quel film per come il suo meccanismo implacabile permettesse di liberare i pensieri e lasciarli divagare. Quel film vorticava attorno alle immagini del lancio di uno shuttle: qui il veicolo è finalmente partito. Con questo consiglio d'autore vi lascio intraprendere questo viaggio irripetibile. Da sempre gli umani hanno osservato il cielo, connettendo quei punti luminosi in cerca di figure. A voi il piacere di tracciare le vostre.
Tommaso Isabella, Filmmakerfest Milan in November 2018

Il videoartista Lurf
Tutti i cieli stellati del cinema nel film-mosaico di 558 titoli
"Abbiamo le stelle, non chiediamo la luna" diceva Bette Davis alla fine di Perdutamente tua e il regista e videoartista austriaco Johann Lurf l'ha presa in parola realizzando un film fatto solo di stelle cinematografiche, quelle che si vedono negli altri film. Un lavoro mastodontico: 558 estratti da altrettandi titoli (se ho fatto bene i conti) che vanno da da Rêve à la lune di Gaston Velle e Ferdinand Zecca del 1905 a Valerian e la città dei mille pianeti di Luc Besson (2017), concentrati in 100 minuti. Si portanno vedere domani all'Oberdan, alle 21, all'interno del festival Filmmaker (www.filmmakerfest.com).
Il titolo? Evidentemente , un simbolo non una parola per permettere a ogni spettatore di pronunciarlo nelle sua lingua, così come il film assembla frammenti di dialoghi in tante lingue diverse, spesso incompresibili perché tronchi e smozzicati: quello che interessa all'artista non sono le parole ma le immagini del cielo stellato. Ci sono le stelle di Fantasia e Stromboli, di Gioventù bruciata e Ben Hur, di Godzilla e 2001: Odissea nello spazio, delle saghe di Guerre stellari e Star Trek, di E.T. e Alien, di La notte di San Lorenzo e I pirati dei Caraibi, di Titanic e di Thor, ma chi le riconosce è bravo tanto si intrecciano e si confondono in una specie di mosaico fittissimo dove conta soprattutto il disegno d'insieme, non le singole tessere.
Non è la prima volta che un videoartista si mette a lavorare con le immagini di altri film. Con The Clock (un megablob con fotogrammi di orologi sincronizzati in maniera da segnare lo scorrere di ben 24 ore, quanto dura la visione dell'opera) l'inglese Christian Marclay è stato premiato nel 2010 alla Biennale d'arte di Venezia. Ma in quella e altre opere simili l'assemblaggio delle immagini era funzionale a una riflessione filosofica.
Con il suo collage, invece, Lurf vuole immergere lo spettatore in una specie di esperienza sensativa: non c'è un filo che tiene uniti i vari spezzoni se non quello cronologico della loro realizzazione e i pochi frammenti di dialogo che si sentono non rispondono a nessuna logica. Quello che importa è la possibilità di offrire un'esperienza che nessun film finora era riuscito a restituire: viaggiare con la mente nello spazio infinito e perdersi tra una stella e l'altra.
Paolo Mereghetti, Corriere della Sera, 17 Novembre 2018

Een chronologische compilatiefilm van fragmenten uit speelfilms waarin sterrenhemels getoond worden, vanaf de begindagen van de cinema tot aan nu: dat is ★ (star). Dat klinkt als een visueel interessante trip waarin bovendien gekeken kan worden welke ontwikkeling de verbeelding van onze nachtelijke hemel doormaakte. Wie echter een hypnotiserende, dromerige montage verwacht komt bedrogen uit. Elk beeld waarin iets anders is te zien dan een sterrenhemel – een horizon, een ruimteschip, titels – is weggelaten. Bovendien zijn alle scènes nog voorzien van de originele audio. Het resultaat is een film met soms opvallende beeld- of geluidssequenties. Maar ook een fragmentarische, staccato film die blij vlagen behoorlijk nerveus is. Leuk is natuurlijk wel om te proberen te raden om welke films het gaat, maar dit blijkt in deze vorm een opvallend pittige filmquiz te zijn. Het is lastig hier zinnige conclusies aan te verbinden, maar een interessante vormoefening is het wel.
Marcel Westhoff, vrijdag 2 februari 2018, 8weekly.nl

OM ★
Tag med på rumrejse i flere forskellige stjernehimler fra mere end 550 film i kronologisk rækkefølge fra den dag de fik premiere. Filmen bliver der en samlet lang, bevidsthedsudvidende oplevelse - dette er en stjernerejse for sande filmfans!
Billeder af stjernehimler fra film klippet sammen i én lang kosmisk totaloplevelse. Det er i al simpelhed opskriften på Johann Lurfs nyeste værk. Simpel idé, men en bevidsthedsudvidende oplevelse af intergalaktiske proportioner, som må og skal opleves i biografen.
Fra Georges Méliès' rumeventyr i slutningen af 1800-tallet over sovietisk science fiction til 'Star Wars', og helt frem til i dag. Lurfs film er mere end noget andet en film om himmelrummet som det ultimative lærred, som fantasifulde filmskabere - og deres publikum - i 120 års har projiceret deres drømme op på. Det er nemlig kun for ganske nylig, at man har udviklet en kamerateknologi, der er sensitiv nok til at gengive stjernernes lys på film.
Stort set alle de himmelrum, vi her oplever, er skabt i special effects-studier, og Lurfs film danner et katalog over hvordan kreative filmfolk har forestillet sig det uendelige univers. Derfor giver det god mening, at Lurfs egen film i princippet er uendelig: Der vil over de kommende år blive tilføjet endnu flere nye klip til et allerede overvældende originalt værk.
CPH:DOX in March 2018

Johann Lurf har laget et enestående verk, der vi ser det stjernefylte himmelrommet slik det er skildret i 550 filmer gjennom filmhistorien!
Cinemateket Oslo, June 2018

Už od počátku lidstva nás fascinuje pohled na noční nebe rozzářené hvězdami. Za těmito světélkujícími body se mimo dosah zraku skrývá hluboký, nekonečný vesmír, jehož daleké galaxie či hvězdné mlhoviny nelze spatřit, můžeme se o nich pouze dohadovat a snít. Naše představy o hvězdách a kosmu jsou formovány imaginací vědců, popularizátorů i umělců. Nevyhnutelně se v nich zračí i naše vlastní představy, strachy, tužby, ale třeba i proměňující se způsoby zobrazování a uvažování. Johann Lurf sestavil svůj film pouze ze záběrů vesmíru, které vyňal z celkem 550 filmů napříč historií kinematografie. Výsledkem je podmanivá poetická esej, která je stejně o kosmu jako o způsobech jeho reprezentace.
Hubert Poul for the 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in June 2018

Kronološki niz posnetkov zvezd iz filmov – ne filmskih zvezd, temveč zvezd na nočnem nebu, posnetih od začetkov filmske zgodovine do današnjih dni. Ti zvezdni trenutki, iztrgani iz konteksta skupaj s sinhronim zvokom – z ambientalnimi šumi, mogočnimi orkestralnimi spremljavami, s pedantnimi razlagami in sanjavimi razglabljanji –, so čarobna polja teme, posuta z neskončnimi vprašanji in možnostmi.
Kino Otok Isola Cinema, June 2018

Tudi zadnji film, ki bo v Kinoteki nosil štafeto Kino Otoka, ★ (Johann Lurf, 2017), se poigrava s filmsko zgodovino – in ta na prav neposreden, skoraj taktilen način. Lurfov celovečeni prvenec kronološko niza posnetke zvezd iz filmov – ne filmskih zvezd, temveč zvezd na nočnem nebu, pikic svetlobe v večni temi, ki jih je izbral iz 550 filmov, posnetih od začetkov filmske zgodovine do današnjih dni (projekt pa namerava vsako leto nadgrajevati). Ti zvezdni trenutki, ki jih iztrga iz konteksta skupaj s sinhronim zvokom – z ambientalnimi šumi, mogočnimi orkestralnimi spremljavami, s pedantnimi razlagami in sanjavimi razglabljanji – so čarobna polja teme, nežno posuta z neskončnimi možnostmi. Lurfova drzna montaža kljub preprostemu konceptu ustvari duhovit, melanholičen, kontemplativen in temeljit pregled zgodovine filma, zgodovine človeka in njegovega odnosa s prostorom in časom, z neskončnim vesoljem.
Kinoteka Ljubljana, June 2018

Një film pa përgjigje por me aq pyetje sa ka yje në univers; strukturalisti austriak Johann Lurf ka zgjedhur një temë të guximshme dhe çdo herë e në rritje për filmin e tij debutues të metrazhit të gjatë: yjet e kinemasë. Jo yjet e filmit, por yjet në qiellin e natës, shpimet e dritës kundër errësirës të nxjerra si fragment nga filmat që fillojnë me agimin e kinemasë dhe vazhdojnë deri në ditën e sotme në një projekt që planifikohet të zgjerohet çdo vit. Këto instanca yjore, të copëtuara nga konteksti me gumëzhima të ambienteve zanore të paprekura, me shënime të mëdha orkestrale, sqarime pedante, spekulime ëndërrimtare – janë fusha magjike të errësirës së spërkatur me mundësi. Filmi i Lurfit i çon shikuesit në një udhëtim nëpër tonet e premtimit dhe kërcënimit që burojnë nga kozmosi.
DokuFest Kosovo, August 2018

Naš prvi susret s radom Johanna Lurfa na velikome platnu doslovno nas je oborio s nogu. Uzimajući kao polazišnu točku vertigo-efekt, postupak koji je Alfred Hitchcock proslavio u Vrtoglavici (1958), Lurfov je Napad vrtoglavice (2007) filmski medij napregnuo do krajnjih granica, transponiravši gledatelje u sasvim novu dimenziju stvarnosti – uz obvezan naklon povijesti filma.
Jedanaest godina kasnije Lurf nam ponovno izmiče tlo pod nogama. Njegov dugometražni prvijenac, ★, u cijelosti je sastavljen od prizora neba, onako kako su ga zamišljali redatelji, snimatelji, inženjeri zvuka i majstori specijalnih i vizualnih efekata od 1905. godine do današnjih dana. Poredane u kronološkom slijedu i precizno montirane tako da isključuju prikaze zemaljskih i izvanzemaljskih bića, svemirskih brodova, satelita i natpisa, ove simulacije nebeskog svoda, treperećih zvijezda i svemirskih izmaglica pod krinkom fantastike i eskapizma zapravo govore o nama samima – našim nadama, žudnjama, osamljenosti, znatiželji, strahu i strahopoštovanju koje osjećamo kada pogled okrenemo prema neistraženim prostranstvima oko nas i u nama samima.
Građa je preuzimana iz igranih, eksperimentalnih i animiranih filmova, a film će se u narednim godinama nastaviti širiti novim umecima, baš kao i svemir. Engleski i njemački u dijalogu su s ruskim i japanskim, melodrame sa znanstvenom fantastikom, crno-bijelo s bojom, akademijin format sa cinemascopeom, primitivne makete sa suvremenom računalnom animacijom, šutnja nijemoga filma s imerzivnosti surround zvuka, a analogni film s digitalnim videom. Trenutačnih 99 minuta Lurfova ★ stoga predstavlja zvjezdanu povijest filma. Od zamamnog kolorita Ophülsove Lole Montès (1955) do gorko-slatke muzikalnosti Chazelleova La La Landa (2016), od pionirskih specijalnih efekata Gastona Vellea do suvremenih računalnih čudesa Christophera Nolana, ★ je oda čaroliji filma i ludama koje svojim snovima dodaju nove zvijezde na širećem prostranstvu filmskoga neba.
25FPS Zagreb in September 2018

Όταν κοιτάμε τον νυχτερινό ουρανό, θαυμάζουμε τ’ άστρα και διαβάζουμε εκεί το μέλλον, ακόμα κι αν ξέρουμε πως το φως που φτάνει σ’ έμας έρχεται από αστέρια που έχουν ήδη σβήσει. Ένας γνήσια ρομαντικός πειραματικός σκηνοθέτης (μαθητής του Χαρούν Φαρόκι) μοιάζει να έχει για αφετηρία αυτό το γοητευτικό παράδοξο, καθώς δοκιμάζει να αποτυπώσει στη φωτοευαίσθητη επιφάνεια του κινηματογραφικού φιλμ τις κινήσεις των αστεριών στο στερέωμα. Μια αισθητηριακή ανατομία των διακριτικών χαρακτηριστικών που ορίζουν το κινηματογραφικό μέσο –δηλαδή τον διάλογο ανάμεσα στις δέσμες φωτός και στο ψηλαφητό σκοτάδι που αφορά το σύνολο της κινηματογραφικής «σκευής»–, η οποία μας ταξιδεύει σε μια άλλη διάσταση, στην παντοτινή λεωφόρο των άστρων του σινεμά.
Thessaloniki International Film Festival November 2018

Elokuvahistorian eniten tähtiä kerännyt elokuva!
Maaginen elokuvanäytteistä koostettu teos kuljettaa katsojan halki tähtitaivaan elokuvahistorian ja ääniraitojen, joita eksistentiaalisissa pyrinnöissään kamppaileva ihmiskunta on telluksellaan taivaankannelle levittyville valoille antanut sitten elokuva-apparaatin keksimisen.
Aina Georges Mélies’n ensimmäisistä seikkailuista tähän päivään kulkeva aikamatka on Porissa Suomen ensi-illassa ja perjantain näytös on harvinainen mahdollisuus päästä kokemaan ikonina syntynyt audiovisuaalinen mestariteos.
Interstellaarinen sukellus avaa festivaaliviikonlopun räjäyttäen Valimon kosmisiin mittasuhteisiin!
Pori Film Festival Finland in November 2018

Uuden kokeellisen elokuvan huippunimiin kuuluva wieniläinen cinefiili Johann Lurf (s. 1982) on kirjaimellisesti viettänyt viimeiset kymmenen vuotta elokuvatähtien ympäröimänä: hänen magnus opuksensa ★ (eli tähtifilmi tai star film, josta Sodankylässä nähdään 2019 päivitetty versio), koostuu pelkästään otoksista elokuvahistorian yöllisistä tähtitaivaista. Tämä festivaaliyleisöjä kaikkialla hurmannut kompilaatioelokuvan viihdyttävä mestarinäyte on ikuisen haaveilun kronikka, ”kaikkien aikojen romanttisin elokuva”. Itävaltalaisohjaajalta esitetään lisäksi Hollywood-studioiden tunnusfilmeistä koostettu maaginen musiikkilyhytelokuva Twelve Tales Told. Lurfin teokset ovat hämmästyttäviä hiottuja timantteja – juuri kun luulimme, että kokeellisessa elokuvassakin kaikki olisi jo nähty.
Midnight Sun Film Festival Sodankylä Finland in June 2019

Ja sitten on ★, Johann Lurfin 102-minuuttinen teos, joka koostuu yksinomaan elokuvahistorian yöllisistä tähtitaivaista. Elokuva sai ensiesityksensä Wienin elokuvajuhlilla vuonna 2017. Sen jälkeen Lurf on lisännyt elokuvaan uusia otoksia sitä mukaa, kun katsojat niitä hänelle vinkkaavat.
Sodankylässä nähtävä ★ on siis jälleen laajennettu versio alkuperäisestä elokuvasta.
Helsingin Sanomat about the Midnight Sun Film Festival on June 12th 2019

34. festivaali päättyy tänään sunnuntaina toiveuusintoihin. Elokuvallisiksi kohokohdiksi nousivat vanhat klassikot, kuten Mouchette – raiskattu (1967) ja Touki Bouki (1973), ja muutamat uutuudet, kuten J-P Valkeapään Koirat eivät käytä housuja, Mark Jenkinin mustavalkoinen kalastajadraama Bait ja Johann Lurfin kokeellinen tähtitaivaselokuva ★.
Helsingin Sanomat about the Midnight Sun Film Festival on June 16th 2019

★ on koottu kronologisessa järjestyksessä kaikista ohjaajan löytämistä elokuvakohtauksista, joissa näkyy tähtitaivas – ei enempää, ei vähempää. Elokuvaa voi lähestyä yhtä monella tavalla kuin tosielämän tähtitaivasta: voi tarkkailla laajempia kuvioita, yrittää bongata lempielokuvansa kuin tähdenlennon – tai sitten vain asettua meditatiiviseen takakenoon ja uppoutua tähtien äärettömyyteen, joka on innoittanut satoja elokuvaohjaajia taiteenlajin ensihetkistä tähän päivään. Yleisövihjeiden myötä elokuva laajenee yhä kuin universumi itse. Espoossa nähtävän viimeisimmän version runsaudesta tarkkaavainen katsoja voikin paikantaa myös useita suomalaisia tähtielokuvia vuosien varrelta. Olennaisimmin ★ osoittaa, että tähtitaivaan tenho on universaalia.
Tytti Rantanen, Espoo Ciné Internatinoal Film Festival 2021

Hviezdna obloha je podobne ako film iba plochou projekciou trojrozmerného sveta. A keďže filmový materiál bol až donedávna nedostatočne citlivý na to, aby zachytil hviezdnu oblohu, vždy, keď sa objavila vo filme, išlo o výtvarný čin, o istú predstavu oblohy. Práve to, vzťah medzi kinematografiou a oblohou, a to, ako si predstavujeme svet a ako sa k nemu vzťahujeme, skúma Johann Lurf vo svojom strihovom filme ★. Využil v ňom zábery z vyše 550 filmov, ktoré navyše usporiadal chronologicky, takže vytvoril aj svojské dejiny kinematografie – s prísľubom, že filmy bude pravidelne dopĺňať o tie najnovšie. Vidíme tak, ako sa menili výtvarné štýly naprieč desaťročiami i rôzne spôsoby ľudského myslenia, vidíme, ako sa od seba odlišujú kultúry a ako sa vzťahujú k nekonečnu a neznámu, ktoré si so sebou obloha nesie. Vidíme, ako sa menili formáty obrazu, filmárske technológie a techniky, alebo hudba – všetky zábery sú totiž vo filme aj s pôvodnou zvukovou stopou. No keďže vystrihnuté zábery majú od niekoľkých políčok po desiatky sekúnd, vzniká zároveň originálna zvuková koláž s jedinečným rytmom. ★ je konceptuálne dielo a meditácia nad umením a ľudstvom.
20. Medzinárodný Filmový Festival Bratislava December 2018

Una sessió dedicada al cel i a les investigacions sobre la llum, amb imatges abstractes de reflexos i espurnes de llum, constel·lacions, estrelles i galàxies.
Una espurna de llum en la foscor perfilaria davant la mirada d’un observador una mena d’arabesc en moviment continu que li atraparia la visió. No caldria gaire més per percebre què és el cinema: n’hi hauria prou, potser, amb un projector encès en una sala fosca o la projecció de les dues pel·lícules que reuneix aquesta sessió: Lights, d’António Palolo, ,i ★ de Johann Lurf, on les imatges abstractes i les recerques sobre la llum són succeïdes per d’altres de figuracions del sol, constel·lacions, estrelles i galàxies.
En molts dels seus treballs fílmics dels anys setanta el pintor portuguès António Palolo emprèn de manera obsessiva una cerca al voltant de la llum: Lights (1972-1976) podria ser el millor exemple d’aquesta exploració. A partir de la manipulació de la càmera en la captació de la llum i de l’ús de filtres, aquesta pel·lícula configura un calidoscopi de llums abstractes de diferents colors, reflexos, iris fragmentats, mires, formes circulars, espurnes de llums en la foscor puntuades per imatges de cels gairebé blancs.
D’altra banda, la pel·lícula ★, del cineasta i projeccionista austríac Johann Lurf, presenta materialment les estrelles que apareixen representades en els cels nocturns de moltes pel·lícules al llarg de la història del cinema. És un repàs cronològic per la representació del paisatge estel·lar al llarg de més de cent anys de cinema, començant per pel·lícules mudes fins a d’altres de recents de diferents gèneres, no tan sols de ciència-ficció, que s’han aturat a observar el cel.
Gloria Vilches for the CCCB Barcelona in April 2018

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