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Review: The Chimera of M. at Tyneside Cinema

A 3D animation by Sebastian Buerkner is the latest attraction in Tyneside Cinema's new moving image gallery

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Colin Davison www.rosellastudios.com Sebastian Buerkner, creator of The Chimera of M.
Sebastian Buerkner, creator of The Chimera of M.

The Chimera of M., Tyneside Cinema until February 25

The box office is busy these days with a rush of Oscar-chasing films pulling in punters.

But one attraction is free. On the top floor, where the bar with the green walls once was, you will now find The Gallery, a new space dedicated to the art of the moving image.

Currently showing is The Chimera of M. by Sebastian Buerkner who was born in Berlin but studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design.

Originally a painter, he has worked in animation for the past decade, “combining” – as the cinema tells us – “cutting-edge digital technology with layered, abstract imagery to create works that explore the nature of film and moving image”.

The Chimera of M. won a prize at last year’s Rotterdam Film Festival.

You need 3D specs to see the 25-minute film which is being screened every half an hour from 10am to 5pm (from 11am on Sunday). These are handed out at the kiosk outside.

Colin Davison www.rosellastudios.com The Chimera of M. playing in The Gallery at the Tyneside Cinema
The Chimera of M. playing in The Gallery at the Tyneside Cinema
 

On Thursday lunchtime I was the only one in. Putting on the glasses I entered a strange world – or, rather, since this is 3D, met it half way.

I’d read on the artist’s website that the film “narrates through ambiguous scenery, deliberating themes of longing, intimacy, loss, aspiration, lust, identity”.

There are whiffs of all this but I didn’t really find a coherent narrative I could grasp.

The film begins with what sounds like a train – maybe an Underground train – and tower blocks materialise out of a shifting landscape.

I see eyes, one of those reading charts you see (or don’t) in an optician’s surgery and a back view of a boy and girl holding hands. Voices come into play, two men and a woman.

Colin Davison www.rosellastudios.com The Chimera of M. playing in The Gallery at the Tyneside Cinema
The Chimera of M. playing in The Gallery at the Tyneside Cinema
 

“I did have a red sofa in here,” says one man to the other. “I destroyed it. It was really enjoyable, like dismembering a cow.”

Well, each to his own.

Always with a slight undertone of menace, there are shadowy meetings and a hint of a sexual relationship half-heartedly rekindled. I get a sense of encounters in a bar, a flat, a nightclub as recognisable objects float out of the digital soup.

Lost in a 3D maze, I’m clutching at possible meanings. The landscape is watchable, almost seductive... but when the film ended, I wasn’t sure quite where I’d been, with whom or why.

Perhaps more will be revealed on February 5 (6.30pm) when Sebastian Buerkner will be in conversation in The Gallery.

Tickets (£2.50) from the box office: 0845 2179909. Find more information at www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/buerkner

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