onedotzero brand themselves as one of the UK’s leading promoters of contemporary digital moving image, both through the international film festivals that they stage and through their onedotzero_select DVD series. The fifth edition, released June 4th, is a captivating compilation of work, including short films and music promos, that combines both high-quality live action and innovative, often humorous animation.
Viewing the DVD is a bit like dipping into a collection of short stories: though lacking a cohesive narrative, there is a commonality between the artistic works. Most of the shorts exhibit an irreverent sense of humour (while the few that don’t all tend to veer towards a dystopian view of society). Music is a hugely important component of the clips: those that aren’t actual promos are still fashioned as elements of contemporary music culture. In the animated War Photographer a Nordic marching band faces off against heavy-metal Viking warriors on the high seas in a battle for their honour while the live-action What Goes Up Must Come Down is a Streets-like urban rap trip through a twilit London. Despite differences in style and technique, all of the films are created to appeal to an audience characterised by a devotion to digital innovation as well as an urban design aesthetic; the DVD would equally be at home on the walls of a Shoreditch club as in a mainstream cinema.
Though the quality of all the work on onedotzero_select 5 is exceptionally high, there are some pieces that stand out. The animated short The Tale of How from South African collective The Blackheart Gang is a brilliant work: an operatic, fantastical tale about a sea creature threatening a colony of Dodo birds. Surreal Japanesesque wood blocks seem to come to life in a sea filled with tentacled monsters, piranha ducks, and the distressed birds struggling to survive in the choppy, dangerous waves. At the other end of the spectrum, Toner by Takagi Masakatsu, is an aural and aesthetic delight, a riot of gorgeous colour accompanied by the Japanese artist Cornelius on the piano, as well as the nostalgic sounds of a dot-printer.
At a time of ever-greater media consolidation and the rise of the bland pop promo created to appeal to the lowest common denominator, onedotzero_select provides an opportunity to see digital art that would otherwise struggle to find an outlet. While videos for the Bloc Party and Ninjatune-veterans Coldcut can get airtime, it’s unlikely that the charming, Miyazaki-esque Soot Giant from France, or the Brazilian film Tyger, a combination of puppetry, animation and photography inspired by a Blake poem, would find a widespread audience in the UK without support from onedotzero. The films on this compilation are well-deserving of our time, and will amply reward repeat viewings.