Pyramid Flare
2013 35mm 5 Minutes Silent Colour 25f/s Vertical Cinema 2.35:1 Edition of 3+2

Pyramid Flare

Among the most mysterious man-made structures ever built, the pyramids still challenge scholars and provoke pseudo-scientific theories. Most architects have abandoned the idea of recreating a pyramid in modern times: first of all, it isn’t efficient as a building, and secondly, any content that might be assigned to it could hardly ever counteract its grandeur and ambition. So one could rightfully ask: Why build one today?
Pyramid Flare is the second in a series of experimental films about modern pyramids all over the globe. It was filmed in Prague and documents a pyramid-shaped building that is now mostly used as musical theatre. Filmed with a 35 mm camera turned on its side, Pyramid Flare is a five-minute exploration of basic cinematic elements – film formats, structure, movement, time. The ‘pyramid series’ plays with these notions, each film takes a different approach to modern pyramid structures, and they all document the pyramid over the course of 24 hours. Structure is one of the keywords of the project, pointing to the mathematical structure of the pyramid and to the filmmaker’s approach to filming it. In Pyramid Flare the camera changes position every 20 minutes to capture the pyramid and the sun hovering above. It slowly circles the building, searching for the angles that keep the pyramid in the centre of the frame. Indeed, this conversation directs the film, leaving the director and his subjective point of view ‘out of the picture’.
Mirna Belina, October 2013

The 5-minute work signed by Lurf leaves behind one of the most memorable traces of the “Vertical Cinema” selection. Being the only experiment that deals with real footage, “Pyramid flare” recreates authenticity through a game of perspectives. For the first time, the vertical screen seems to modify in a radical manner the way we comprehend the context: the centered object becomes a protagonist and the story doesn’t move right-left, but up and down, connecting the ephemeral with the infinite. Due to its vertical axis, the pyramid is repositioned both conceptually-wise and esthetically-wise. “Pyramid Flare” was shot in Prague with a 35 mm camera turned on its side, portraying a building that is now used as a musical theatre. It emphasizes the eschatology of pyramids in modern times, while launching an open invitation toward rethinking the role of ex-architectural fetishes. The frames follow a chronological order, capturing their “character” in different moments from a 24-hours-continuum. The impact of constantly changing light and time brings an almost seismic change to the static protagonist. “Pyramid Flare” functions as well as a puzzle of perspectives: the points of view seem quintessential aspects of perceiving an object. Although the frames don’t surprise human presence, we can feel it beyond every detail surprised in the frame. Even the white plane traces that transgress the sky, seem to resemble a warm, familiar, comfortable artistic habitat. This simple, yet highly well-crafted experiment excites the public into carrying the experiment even further – by framing silhouettes. How would that change our own sensorial perception? How would that transform the philosophy of the ex-horizontal homo valens?
Ioana Mischie in Storyscapes on January 27th 2014

Johann Lurf was the only filmmaker whose short contained mundane, real-world footage, and the mundanity did not end there. The logline reads, “Pyramid Flare shows us what modern pyramids and vertical screens are all about,” and that is true. Sadly, that is also all there is. The six-minute short is merely a compilation of various shots of a modern pyramid, and nothing more. It feels like an actuality the Lumière brothers would have made on a slow day, except worse.
Pyramid Flare is notable, however, for how it illustrates the innate differences in the form and structure of vertical cinema. Any cinematographer worth his salt knows the rule of thirds, and how that guides composition. All scriptwriters are aware of the importance of an establishing shot, and how the mood of one can make or break the sequence being established. Pyramid Flare frames the pyramid as one would if shooting in a conventional format, and the result as a vertical image is clumsy. The amount of ground and foliage visible is jarring, and the division of space between the earth, the pyramid and the sky is off-putting. The short could serve as a (pre)cautionary tale for cinematographers were this format to catch on.
Laya Maheshwari in on January 28th 2014

...Was material abstraction and a violent sound design a conceptual criteria? If so, the ever great Johann Lurf violated that criteria beautifully with his silent, figurative Pyramid Flare where a 35mm camera circulates around a huge glass pyramid towering over a suburb. The Vertical Cinema programme notes might answer some of the many questions that Lurf’s film leave us with, but let’s leave its mystery for what it is.
Mads Mikkelsen on February 5th 2014 on

Most indicative of the overall immersive effect was the sudden disappointment I felt when Johann Lurf’s Pyramid Flare – the penultimate in the programme – presented real-world imagery (of a modern pyramid building in Prague), which doubled as a rupture in the previously abstract canvas. A silent rupture at that: not surprising for an event produced by the tellingly named Sonic Acts…
Michael Pattison on February 12th 2014 in Sight and Sound

Johann Lurf se escapa de lo abstracto y aprovecha al máximo cada centímetro de ese cinemascope erguido para enlazarlo con la arquitectura.
Fernando Vílchez Rodríguez, 10.02.2014 numerocero

Pyramid Flare