To Melt

To Melt

Short film and 4 Channel Film Installation, 2014

To Melt is an audiovisual poem about human capacity to transcend memory that comes in two versions, one is a four channel video installation in which the space is overturned into a dream domain while the other translates that intangible aura into the form of a short film.

Stepping into the installation the viewer encounters a space filled with black and white imagery and broken continuity that is created by four screens dividing the space. Two characters are moving from screen to screen as if walking away from the viewer. This movement away from the viewer creates an urge to follow the characters in a circular movement around the installation. Alternating sound then silence adds to the overall chanting effect of the whole set up.

The action unveiling through the characters is also built on repetition. At some point in time a person carrying a package drops it to the ground with a crash. The other person enters and finds the contents of the box in pieces on the ground. The two characters are played by eight actors of different genders randomly replacing each other every new loop. It seems at a first glance that nothing evolves and the narrative is trapped in a continuous circuit. But with a closer look the subtle changes become apparent. 

To Melt in its atmosphere reminds of that elusive supra physical quality inherent to 35mm film which gets the viewer into a dreamlike state accessing deeper layers of the psyche, which harbours human reminiscences  along with accompanying emotions and feelings. The fragmented space and contrasting sound of the installation suggest that here we encounter distressing perhaps even painful fractions. As it often appears in a bad dream the bits of memory coming in flashbacks tend to repeat without any resolution creating even more tension and estrangement. The parallel with Antonioni’s films Eclipse and The Adventure comes to mind in which long and almost uninhabited takes of streets or nature visually and sensually merge outer and inner space  bringing the intensity of  life’s ethereality to the physical surface. Here too we can actually feel the inner space unfolding into corporeality. Perhaps these memory fractions are echoed not just individually but collectively, from generation to generation as characters change while the act remains. In the course of time we notice that the reproduced act is not exactly the same as the  shards of glass decreasing and finally melting away completely. And thus the captivating power of enduring recollection can be broken and overcome. The obscure part of the witnessed transformation is the condition under which such transcendence became possible. Is it due to personal effort or to the lack of irritating circumstances that allows for violence to dissolve and for quietness to overtake? The ending is ambiguous as we do not see the next frame after the meltdown. Will there be a next round, can we repeat the history? 

To melt talks about the structure and experience of violence through its aesthetics. The fragmentary narrative speaks of the trauma of both the individual and the entire culture. Thought and affect, sound and silence meet in the symbol of trauma that the piece depicts. The repeating story of To melt reminds one of a traumatic memory brought back to life through dreams. The memories are searching for their correct form; the events never appear the same twice.

These small changes tell us about the procedural nature of traumatic experience, the way in which the trauma changes and progresses amid an expressionless, motionless silence. The changes also imbue the work with the feeling of a dream.

– Sini Mononen – quote from Mononen’s essay in the artbook To Melt, appearing in April 2016 from the publisher Poesia.


Technical description of the installation version:

Eight one minute videos are shown in succession on four back projection screens. Eight audio showers are placed above and between the screens to emphasize the location and direction of the movement and action in the videos. The audio landscape is distinctly concrete, even if occasionally non-realistic, there is no music.

Technical description of the short film: 

Duration: 7 min
Shooting format: 4K UHD
Screening format: DCP/5 channel surround sound, or HD/Stereo

Screenings and exhibitions

The seven minute experimental short film was selected for the Blow Up Chicago Arthouse Film Festival 2015, Experiments in Cinema Festival, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 5-10, 2016, Firestone International Experimental Film Festival 2015, Moscow, Directors Circle Festival Of Shorts, USA, December 2015, Los Angeles Independent Films Awards, Nomination for Best Foreign Short, May 2015, the Backup festival in Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany 13th – 21st May, Mirror Mountain Film Festival, Ottawa, Canada, December 3rd, 2016, Busan International Art Film Festival, BIAFF, December 22-23, 2016, the European Filmfestival in Moscow, October 22nd, 2016, the Artova Film Festival, Helsinki, Finland, Sept 9-10th, 2016. TO Melt and the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival , July 28th-31st.

The installation was shown at Sinne Gallery, Helsinki, 2014. In November 2021 it will be exhibited as part of the together _ noting -exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, MMOMA. Curator: Margarita Osepyan. 


Written, directed and edited by Minna Långström
Cinematographer : Mikko Levoska
Sound Design: Jani Lehto
Sound recording: Elina Hyvärinen
Lighting designer: Erik Kenttä
Actors: Andrea Björkholm, Elias Keränen, Greta Mandelin, Pietu Wikström
Extras: Marjatta Korpelainen, Jouko Hokkanen, Risto Erjanko
Make up and costume: Jonna Karlström
Production assistants: Mirja Oksanen, Niko Tiranis
Exhibition media technology by PROAV Saarikko Oy