Carl Michael von Hausswolf


The steady but almost imperceptible pulse of the sound track and the uncanny images of Carl Michael von Hausswolff’s film Hashima, Japan (made with Thomas Nordanstad), 2002, spark the same quickening of adrenaline and awareness as when you’re finding your way in the dark. The film is a tour of an abandoned island off the coast of Japan that for years was the site of intensive coal mining; at its peak it had a higher population density than Manhattan. Now, seen in straightforward still shots that fade into one another, the island looks as if abandoned in a rush: The camera catches deteriorated beds, sewing machines, children’s toys, a chemistry lab with bottles out on the tabletops, drips and leaks; the impression of dereliction is reinforced by the obvious disrepair of some of the buildings and by the light overgrowth covering the exteriors. These remnants invite a narrative more apocalyptic

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