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Ice, X-Rays and Shadows

Words:

Edd Norval
January 6, 2021

In her award-winning short film on the absurdity of preserving ice, Soetkin Verstegen uses innovative, yet time-tested techniques to create a visual marvel of photography, film and storytelling with nods to zoetropes and industrial production - influences as varied as they are interesting.

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The video has a clear narrative, although with enough references to allow for multiple interpretations. One of which stand out is that ‘Freeze Frame’ is not the examination of the absurdity of keeping ice frozen at all, but of the entirety of the history of the moving (and still) image. 


Through stop-motion techniques, the filmmaker looks at shadow, like old puppetry, x-rays, zoetrope-esque movements, ice itself in realistic detail and shots that look like they belong in an old black and white theatre. Through ice, Verstegen isn’t look at the world, but her world. 


That the Belgian chose to use ice as a narrative device and visual symbol in stop-motion is telling of the process and adds a meta element to the work. It’s not only the characters who must fight to preserve blocks of ice, but the filmmaker too. Stop-motion is notoriously time-consuming. She had to capture these shots before the ice melted, or at least, had to fight against using bits where the melting process had even remotely began. The 'making-of' has the potential to be as, or even more, interesting than the actual film.

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Playing on the idea of memory, the effects are haunting, examining the human and animal condition, the fragility of our being but also the extent to the limits of our will to persevere, no matter how counterintuitive the task at hand may seem. 


What makes this piece so strong is that it is an experiment, something that Verstegen undertook simply because it was a curiosity that she wished to explore. It is usually these entries into art, or science, or sports, that can yield the greatest results. When people long to look for something new, something novel and end up pushing their craft into a realm previously untouched.

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