Omer Fast, ‘5000 Feet is the Best / Her Face Was Covered’ (2011)

Omer Fast’s film ‘5000 feet is best’ screens in the basement of Taro Nasu Gallery. The basement gallery is plunged in darkness for the purposes of the film but suggests an awkward nod towards interrogation or rendition with the possibility that your not only watching a film but witnessing someones interview tape.

The lead character in Fast’s film narrative that plays on a constant loop is stuck in some faceless hotel at the Heart of American Darkness and virtual insomnia, Las Vegas. I walked in mid way through just as the character left his hotel room to blag a quick cigarette in the hotel hallway. Finishing up, smirking and murmuring at trousers hung on a nearby hotel room door, and placed there by an anonymous hand he goes back to his room, but not before stuffing the cigarette packet behind a service panel. He knocks three times but gets no answer and then the door opposite opens and a voice calls him signalling him as if he’s wandering off. The room, an interview begins and the interviewer shrouded in darkness asks the bewildered character about being a drone pilot. A piercing beep — a kill sound announcing the elimination of target — locks him in pain as if inducing some sense of harsh reminder and the film cuts to another interview and then returns as he escapes to the corridor again yet this time differently and so goes on, looping between instances and random stories he tells his interviewer as if to fill the time with distracting detail and pepper his return to the corridor with abstract detail that slowly becomes part of either his induced insomnia, hysteria or reconstruction of the world away from the bunker or bedroom he flies drones bombers  from.

Each interview and inserted story works to create a picture of revolving plot lines and figures that play into each other: The couple that visit casinos with the soul intention of stealing credit cards with the aid of a suitcase full of trousers: the man who obsesses over trains from a young age through to manhood, then masquerades as a train driver only to be caught breaking into his own home sometime later: the chamber maid who dispenses painkillers as well as changes sheets. All these instances occur at certain moments within the corridor itself, each time attenuating the interview back in the bedroom. The parallel interview alludes to being genuine but never makes that clear.

Cameras drift over a desert following the figure of a young child on their bike. They could be Israeli, Palestinian, insurgent or …. American. As the camera follows the bike as it leave dust track for tarmac and pulls back to reveal the Las Vegas skyline during daylight, what remains clear throughout is uncertainty. Morality never feels force fed but rather the image of what is real or constructed.

The corridor. trousers hung out and left for dry cleaning: the story of the couple that comb casino lobbies for unsuspecting gamblers to rob prepared with a rack of trousers of all shapes and sizes.

The man he passes in the corridor: the story of the enthusiast that drives the metro with no experience prepared and exacting except for the keys he leaves in the changing room locker that police trace back to him, with him apprehended as he breaks into his own house.

The maid that gives him prescription tablets: the piercing sound of beeps he repeatedly hears and the possibility it denotes a dropped bomb and confirmed kill: the narrator of the second interview describing how does time for drone points usually involves an Xbox and Call of Duty.

While the film follows the drone pilot in the hallway of some anonymous hotel, light from the gallery office upstairs bounces off both wall and staircase. The passing figure of someone jitters in wayward contrast to the film echoing the delusions and strange presences on screen that form the drone pilot’s state of traumatic exhaustion.

The interstice of flyovers and revolving rollercoasters at night as described by real (or imaginary) pilots describe the logistics of dropping missiles thousands miles away from a room that could easily be off the revisited hallway: locations just as wearisome and disconnected as Las Vegas or the downtime sessions of Call of Duty or Metal Gear Solid played for further distraction.

The upstairs room shows another piece by Fast, ‘Her Face Was Covered’ projected on the ground and played as aerial footage of a moment from the film downstairs. A recovery team scours a bomb site from an earlier incident.

A looping story. Entering one door returning through another, forgetting which is which. An interviewer’s question repeated with little difference and his constantly shifting response makes for a film piece thats as much about twists and turns travelling over great distance and immediate settings whats presented as fact or even fiction never aim to present either as being separate or distinct but a necessary part of each other. Our own understanding of events as seen through a very particular lens on TV or online and how we involve ourselves in a form of weird re-enactment through video games and the shared communal experiences of online gaming whats presented as truth is a series of revolving characters and props.

5000 Feet is the Best (2011)
Directed by: Omer Fast
Produced by: Commonwealth Projects

Omer Fast, 5000 Feet is the Best / Her Face Was Covered (2011)
at Taro Nasu Gallery
Sept 11 – Oct 10, 2015