Genius Loci (2019) by Adrien Mérigeau
The award-winning animated short film Genius Loci is a wonderful journey into the chaos of our time. The pilgrimage of the young Reine in a dark and insidious urban environment is an intricate labyrinth from which the girl struggles to get out.
Is it possible to find poetry in the midst of a decadent landscape? Mérigeau wonders about the possibility of living spiritual experiences capable of filling one’s spirit, grasping the beauty where it seems to hide. He says to be fascinated by shape and movement, by the way the animation can create abstract images that free the viewer’s mind.
Our mind uses fixed images, with defined contours to maintain its balance in the world but what happens when in our head these images begin to fall apart and have no logic?
It is as if Mérigeau had opened our magic box of thoughts, leaving it free to express itself through impressions and overlaps.
In his work I notice a connection with both literature and painting. Life is a continuous flow, an uninterrupted movement in which the human being tries to fit in, sometimes abandoning themeselves to it, other times going against the current. Like the stream of consciousness used in literature by authors such as Joyce and Proust, in which words and thoughts travel in complete freedom following the feeling and not the logic, so the sequences of his short seem to be guided by sensations, urges, attractions, which leave to us spectators the possibility of being internalized and interpreted.
In the same way, his representation of reality makes me think about the art movement of Cubism, according to which the outside world must not only be seen but also understood, allowing art to become a cognitive tool. The fragmentation of perception that distinguishes Mérigeau’s short film refers to this early twentieth century artistic current which, subverting the rules of traditional perspective, portrayed the subject from different points of view, and transposed on the canvas the many faces of reality perceived by the human mind.
The term “Genius Loci” usually refers to the spirit of the place, the essence that binds a land to its inhabitants and allows to maintain a balance between the elements. The construction of an identity also passes from the possibility of inhabiting a place, absorbing its characters, atmosphere, dynamics, but in modern society we often see with what struggle we humans manage to maintain a harmonious relationship with the space that surround us. In his film Mérigeau expresses this feeling of disorientation, in his animated images you can feel the difficulty for the individual to manage the chaos, to feel part of a whole, unable to decide their own destiny. Trying to get out from a life in prison, which most people today accept for convenience, he seems to invite us to rediscover the beauty of nature and to look beyond limited horizons.
Mérigeau says he was very fascinated by the composer John Cage and his philosophy, according to which silence has the same value as the musical note and is necessary to bring out the noise and sounds of the world around us, the soundtrack of our daily life. Silence is like a white sheet, ready to welcome the pen that can animate it, without intention but only letting itself be guided by its own creative freedom, just like the stroke that seems to guide the work of the French filmmaker.