Circling on the Orbit’s Edge

Is it possible to perceive the same moment from different perspectives? Artist and anthropologist Philip Widmann made a film in India, in a situation where communication was limited by a lack of a common language and cultural background. Black and white images rotate around the central theme of sharing an experience and leave the observer circling on the edge of an orbit.

A theorem from physics that describes apparent forces in circular motion when observed from an external frame of reference lends its name to a film by Philip Widmann: Fictitious Force is a cinematic exchange on the impossibility of sharing experiences, in black and white and gray.
We see a man preparing to perform in front of a large crowd. Several features signify that this performance is part of a ritual, that the location of events is in an exotic country with a different writing system and different conventions of clothing. Shot in 2013 during a festival of devotees of Shiva by a local crew in Kolkata/India, and in a language that the director neither speaks nor understands, the film relies on the visual and leaves us puzzled. Fragmented dialogues in Bengali and English appear as type, interrupting the course of events, and negotiating the dilemma of ethnography and – perhaps – of spectatorship itself in mundanely poetic terms. The distance between observer and observed, between self and other can be diminished or negated but eventually cannot be overcome. Like previous works of Widmann’s, Fictitious Force implicitly deals with questions of representation and physicality, informed by an anthropological interest that claims no academic foundation.



2015 • 35mm/DCP • b/w • Dolby 5.1 • 15′

Cinematography – Basab Mullik
Additional Cinematography – Bernd Lützeler
Sound – Joydeep Dutta, Kunal Singh
Sound Design & Re-recording – Roman Vehlken
Typography – Mica Cabildo
Conception & Montage – Philip Widmann