Digital 2k from Super 8mm colour and toned and dyed b&w footage, silent, 9:9min., 2021.
“Initially one sees only black and grey. Then the brightest colours, red and green, appear darkest. Yellow cannot be distinguished from a rosy red. Blue looks to me the most noticeable. Nuances of red, which otherwise burn brightest in daylight, namely carmine, cinnabar and orange show themselves as darkest, in contrast to their average brightness. Green appears more bluish, and its yellow tint develops with the increasing daylight” (New Contributions, Jan Evangelista Purkyně, 1825, pp. 109–110)
Purkyně’s Dusk is an experimental short film based on the studies of light and colour carried out by the Czech physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkyně. The visual effect he described in 1825 determines that our perception of colour is dependant on the degree of illumination. Both the identifiable tints and the contrast between colours are perceived differently in bright or low light conditions.
The images for this film were captured in super8mm colour and black and white, in a garden setting on a late summer afternoon edging towards dusk. Two static figures appear in the artificial nature of a garden decor, filmed evenly as living models alongside flowers and plants in changing light replete with bright colours and patterns.
In the editing process, digital effects of de-saturation and contrast variation were used to alter the digitally transferred images, in combination with photo-chemical manipulations such as toning, dying, and colorisation applied onto the black and white original footage.
As a visual experience that “plays on our eyes and disrupts all our senses”, the film aims to defy our perception of colour representation and shed new light on the artistic and conceptual relations between analogue and digital techniques.
Purkyně’s Dusk is distributed by Light Cone and was supported by the Atelier 105 Experimental Film Post-Production Residency in Paris in September 2020. https://lightcone.org/en/news-638-purkyne-s-dusk-de-helena-gouveia-monteiro