Andrei Tarkovsky’s fifth film, Stalker, was released in 1979, just seven years before his death. To this day, this and his other cinematic masterpieces have been the source of inspiration for countless filmmakers and artists. Brooklyn-based video artist Peter Burr is just one example.
In his latest animated work, Special Effect, Burr takes the concept of “the Zone” from the legendary Russian auteur and reworks it for contemporary use. In Stalker, the Zone is an area existing outside of the constraints of conventional society where the rules of physics are suspended. Travelling through the Zone leads to “the Room”, a space where your most secret desires come true.
Burr develops this concept in his 38-minute film, interweaving original footage from Stalker with animated characters and hypnotising visual styles. Brooklyn bands Lucky Dragons and Seabat use the same method by mixing the original electronic soundtrack by eminent composer Eduard Artemyev with human voice samples and synthesiser compositions.
For Burr, the Zone chimes with today’s world. “I’m struck by how the Zone makes our world so skewed: a fairly benign ruined landscape (an increasingly common sight around the USA) gains the ultimate status,” says Burr. “It’s a well-tuned example of defamiliarisation where we become unfamiliar to ourselves and gain new perspectives on the artifacts of our desires. I’m impressed by how Tarkovsky uses these tools of fiction to understand who we really are, what we really want.”