This Action Lies | James N. Kienitz Wilkins

A film that is minimal in the aesthetic perception, maximal in the historic, economic, social, and political discourse, which finally amounts to an aesthetical discourse on design and on the act of filming itself.

Filmexplorer has meet James N. Kienitz Wilkins in Geneva and discussed his multi-layered and challenging work with him.

Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore | Audio/Video: Ruth Baettig

What we see in This Action Lies is just a cup of coffee – that is what we could say… but we soon realize that this is not exactly just a cup of coffee. A voice over unfolds how many meanings this Dunkin’ Donut’s cup of coffee has. The image becomes a meaning bearer, sometimes expressing, sometimes symbolising many things (facts, ideas, processes). Therefore, we not only think of, but also see many things via this cup of coffee, for we have the experience of how we can no longer see something in the same light after we know more about it. The film itself, as a film, unfolds through these many things. Actually, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’ focus is not just showing us the many things in this cup of coffee but, more precisely, the many interconnected things – through a methodology that we have already seen in his film Indefinite Pitch. Through the cup, we perceive a network of interconnected things, the cup of coffee expresses and symbolises a world: in its microcosm, the macrocosm arises. Through its history, its mode of production, its marketing scopes and, moreover, its branding ability, this cup of coffee expresses and symbolises the global power of design. It is the figure of a certain globalization.

The cup of coffee is shot from three different positions, or with different lighting points. In any case, this is a technique of multiplying the perspectives, in order to explore and saturate the space that envelops the cup of coffee. Through the increasingly short takes of the three images, Kienitz Wilkins’ almost cubist device develops into a properly cinematic illusion, as if the entire film could display the birth of the cinematic image. With the intermediate of the world that is summarised within this cup of coffee, This Action Lies highlights how film itself is nothing but a representation of the world, an animated theatrum mundi.


This Action Lies | Short | James N. Kienitz Wilkins | USA-CH | 32’ | Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement Genève 2018

More Info 

James N. Kienitz Wilkins’ Website 

First published: January 15, 2019