The Close is conceived as a journey traversing the past and future of the camera. It brings together a reconstruction of amateur film, circa 1920, and a digital 3D rendering of that footage. Reminiscent of so-called city symphonies during the early days of film, which marked the proliferation of the movie camera into daily life, the film opens with a street scene whose occupants are muted twice – socially and again, technically. Claerbout poetically attempts to restore their voices at the end of the film with a recording of 24 spatially distinct singers performing Arvo Pärt’s 2004 vocal composition Da Pacem Domine, thus surrounding an isolated child, who has become the focus of the film, with an architecture of voices.
The Close oscillates between sensorial cohesion and fragmentation, the familiar and the estranged. Intended as a short, emotional history of the camera, The Close reflects on what Claerbout refers to as ‘dark optics,’ a profound if chaotic recalibration of the beliefs we share regarding image, information, and language.