by John Brian King
Desert Mass is a new short film by John Brian King, art photographer and director of the feature film Redlands. In Redlands, King eschewed typical film editing techniques, featuring instead eight-minute scenes without any camera movement or cutting. Reviewer Angeliki Coconi commented on Redlands: “[It] sits still while everything happens. It doesn’t follow its characters — it watches them. It doesn’t admire or criticize them; it simply looks at them.”
Filmed in Palm Springs, California, King’s latest work Desert Mass focuses on the strange, the disorienting, and the decaying. Its austere style, reminiscent of Redlands, often takes on a dream-like quality, and the accompanying hypnotic organ music underscores the film’s theme of a Satanic mass in an arid, artificial land. Interspersed between alienating landscapes, filmed with the detachment of a wandering traveler, are scenes of two women, each alone in an anonymous hotel room — their distress, which is never explained, surreally related to the unease of the city. It is a brilliant, unconventional work, which you can watch in full above!
John Brian King is the photographer of LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84 and Nude Reagan, both available from Spurl Editions. He is the writer and director of the art house film Redlands (2014) and the short film Model Test (2016). Visit his website here, and check out his latest photography series Sick City.
We will be selling John Brian King’s two photo books at the Philadelphia Art Book Fair on May 5 and 6. Come see us!