The last film in our series is Glass Parade by Insa Langhorst, a 14-minute video about Taybeh, the only brewery in Palestine, with a soundtrack by the Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra.
Glass Parade is a “spontaneous” piece of work in almost all its aspects. It is a reaction to the environment it is set in and experiments with the impact of sound over visuals. Through the combination of visuals and non-diegetic sound it aims to transcend the literal meaning of the visuals, and allows different denotations to be created.
The video is set in Taybeh, the only brewery in Palestine. Taybeh, named after the Christian Palestinian village it is located in, is a family business, which was established in 1994 after the Oslo Peace agreements. The founders David and Nadim Khoury had lived in the USA until then and returned in the hope that the agreements would enable Palestinians to live and work more freely.
I had set out to portray the Khoury´s work because I was interested in the implications that came with the running of a brewery in an occupied and mainly Muslim country. The original idea had been to edit a short video about the brewery with an interview of Nadim Khoury as the core of the narrative. However, whilst in the brewery I ended up spending most of the time filming the process involved in bottling the beer. It was visually enticing to follow the bottles along the conveyer belt, and as the Taybeh brewery is a very small place, it was very possible to just walk around and film all the different stages from close up angles.
Inspired by this experience I also changed my focus in the editing. From a simple portrait it became something more abstract. I edited the video to show it as part of a music gig and thus chose to combine it with a music track instead of only using the original sounds. At times the sound I recorded with the images is bleeding through, but most of the time the Levenshulme Bicycle Orchestra is the prevalent audio.
Through this combination, the video is a good example of how meaning can be created through the interaction of sound and video and how it might be enhanced by the background information the viewer obtains. The music track laid over the images highlights the sounds of the machinery in the brewery to such a degree that suddenly the bottles seem to march and dance along the conveyer belt.
The lyrics are not linked to the images intentionally, yet they do add to the feeling of disembodiment that is perceived in the journey of the bottles through the different stages of being filled and packed. They also evoke traces of violence or threat. Accordingly, the video’s tone is slightly sinister and imposing on the viewer. On its own there is no such feel to it, nor is the song’s rhythm on its own as military as it comes across in combination with the visuals.
Glass Parade was very much a project of intuition. Whilst filming, I was led by the visual fascination I felt in the place. Serendipity helped in matching the soundtrack to those visuals , and the result is a hypnotising abstract impression of the brewery. It is only in hindsight that I became more aware of possible connotations this video could hold. I didn´t intend it to be a political piece of any sort, although I had questions about the difficulties a brewery in Palestine would face due to all the restrictions and border controls imposed by the Israeli government. It also caught my attention when the owner of the brewery, Nadim Khoury, mentioned that the bottles they use are imported from Israel. Yet only in the editing did I start thinking about the implications this kind of information might have on the way the film is perceived.
To me, the bottles became like soldiers and at points I was thinking about the possibility of including archive or found footage making direct links to this impression. In the end I wanted the film to have a more subtle and ambiguous message. Now the viewer can watch the piece without having some intention or meaning spelt out to them, and form their own questions regarding the relation between the visual and audio.