2008 | single-channel HD projection | 3 hours | music, no dialogue

A one-hour long single take of video, as it was inspired by Archangel Gabriel on the magical

Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr) during Ramadan in Sana'a, Yemen. 

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Ramadan Seizure, a Modern Time Stretch consists of a long, uncut digital video recording of an urban area at night. Filming from a tripod, the camera shakes, jolts and is moved at high speed, creating visual effects as a result of frame-blending technology.

Slowed down, the images appear to be fluid. The colours, the blurred focus, and the light form liquid, slowly shifting shapes, that seem to be dancing to the massive, almost subsonic soundtrack, which is the result of slowing down the sound of traffic and people present.

Ramadan Seizure, a Modern Time Stretch was filmed in Sana'a (capital of Yemen) from the roof of the first modernist building in the city, constructed in 1962. Although unknown, the building (part of a series of similar buildings in the street) marks the opening of the country to modernism, under the influence of Egyptian president Nasser. At the time Yemen was ruled by an Imam, a religious despot, and very traditional. From the building, the Imam's old palace can be seen, as well as the Grand Mosque, and Midan al Tahrir (freedom square).

Filmed on a special night during the holy month of Ramadan, said to be charged with Divine power (Laylat al Qadr in Arabic, meaning 'the night of power'), when Arcangel Gabriel roams on earth and many devout people spend the whole night in prayer–– I was overtaken by an unknown force when filming, and, as if in trance, filmed across the cityscape in front of me while shaking and jolting the camera. 

The resulting film is a hypnotising vastness of dark colours and deep sounds, fluctuating from abstract colour- and light patterns to recognisable shapes and forms; humans, cars, signposts, trees– which all seem to be part of a dreamscape, or an under-water world, where, due to the setting in camera and editing, blending the frames, shapes lose their rigid delineation and become fluid instead. 

Resonating with violence and a forbidding sense of might, the film can be seen as an eery prediction of the civil war that has been ravaging the country over the past nearly seven years.    

camera, edit:               Unknown Metaphysical Powers

                                    Bart Groenendaal

thanks to:                    Kyle Foster

Rijksakademie, Amsterdam

All Rights Reserved, Bart Groenendaal, 2008