The only video I've seen passed around and posted more often in the last week than the controversial "Kony 2012" is Andrew Thomas Huang's freaky experimental short "Solipsist." Sure, at 376,000-plus views, it's nowhere near as well-known as "Kony," but that's a pretty substantial number for something with no dialogue, no obvious narrative and no commemorative bracelets. Not to mention there are some sort of shrimp-like puppets and some heads that turn into sinkholes and then explode. I first encountered "Solipsist" where I encounter so much of the cool stuff I encounter, Booooooom. Soon thereafter it popped up on various Tumblrs, and even the Huffington Post shot it through the ol' turbine.
The sort of feathery, shaman-for-a-tribe-that-never-existed trinkets reminded me of some of Fever Ray's visuals — particularly Karen Dreijer Andersson's get-up in the video for "When I Grow Up."
In fact, "Solipsist" reminded me, on first viewing, of a high-concept video for a song. (It helped that one of the dancers kind of looks like Bjork.) And wouldn't you know it, Huang directed the video for Avi Buffalo's "What's in It For?" using a similar bright palette for little fungus-like things that grow up out of the ground.
There's something very now about "Solipsist," even though I can't really put my finger on it, and it doesn't have any discernable references to a historical moment. (Although I think the shrimp dance has something to do with evolution.) I didn't know it got funded via Kickstarter when I saw it the first time, but come to think of it, that's pretty cool. I mean, Huang got $8,000 with this pitch for his "purely visual" film: " “Solipsist' is meant to be a meditative and hypnotic experience for dreamers. This film is designed to straddle the line between art video and film for exhibition at film festivals and art galleries." Sounds kind of, I don't know, solipsistic, maybe?
But even if art-for-art's-sake haters gonna hate, I keep thinking about bits of this beguiling little film, keep coming back to it, and am glad it exists. (It's also something to look at the Kickstarter pitch, see the concept drawing from last year and compare it to how awesome the final result is.) And here's some of how "Solipsist" got made, if you're into that sort of thing: