“We recall Platos conjecture that the origin of play lies in the need of all young creatures, animal and human, to leap. Thus in Grimms German Dictionary the original meaning of the High German substantive leich is given as “a lively rhythmical movement”, its further significations lying wholly in the play-sphere; while the Anglo-Saxon lacan is […] ‘to swing, to wave about” like a ship on the waves, […] to flutter like birds, or ‘flicker’ like flames.”
Johan Huizinger – 1938
“Flicker like Flames” is a film work investigating alternative realities, co-created with a class of 12-13 year old students in Rotterdam. Working together to play Utopian archetypes, and imagine alternative realities, we turn an eye back onto a world estranged, to consider the classroom itself as a Utopian realm, a space boundaried from the social world, party to its own rules and arbitrary power relations. Starting with basic structural archetypes of science fiction, the group move through acting out scenarios from popular film, into staging a ‘fantastic voyage’, a journey to another world as a means of critiquing the present, playing out authority, collaboration, and subjecthood.
By discussing science fiction film, teaching direction and camera work, and sharing creative ownership of the work, the group together determined how to take agency over their own representation, how to narrate around identity and difference, and how to sidestep and see reality through fiction. Using simple materials to build simple sets the heterotopic space of the classroom as a potential utopian zone in its own right is explored, a fabricated zone which prepares for an speculative future, and enforces the power structures which create reality at the critical boundary between childhood, with play as its innate character, and the adult world.