Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Artistic weight drowns ‘EmPlosive’


The first film in the insert, Tyler Calkin’s ‘EmPlosive,’ is perhaps the most difficult to grasp because of its lack of plot. That’s not to say, however, that it needs one. Calkin’s exercise here is one of artistic ingenuity.

The film is a montage of symbolic images that seemingly have nothing to do with one another. The image of blood (I think) being poured into water (also, just a guess) recurrs throughout the film and is, ultimately, what links the images. Calkin, wearing a hazy looking shirt that turns out to be a green screen for the image of poured blood, is working out. Interspersed with his workout is an image of him hugging a girl.

As his workout continues, the flashing of these images becomes more rapid and the techno rifts become stronger. The blood runs thicker through his ‘shirt’ (also, possibly, a window into his entrails) as his effort becomes more palpable. In the most gut-wrenching moment of the film, violence itself becomes palpable: Calkin exerts a final effort to do one more repitition in concert with a gush of crimson that flows down his shirt.

The highlight of the movie is the, perhaps, a self-reflexive (and, hence, metacinematic) moment when Calkin becomes exhausted and no longer has the energy to work out. The metacinematic moment comes when he looks down at his ‘shirt,’ perhaps noticing the flowing blood it contains.

The final scence shows Calkin flipping through an undeterminable medium to the rythm of the gushing blood. The music changes and so does the mood.

The film tries to be emotive. The male-oriented symbolism of blood, women, and working out (my apologies for the mysogenistic triumvirate) are interplayed, however, for no underlying reason. Even the gut-wrenching scene described above does not provide a purpose for Calkin’s ambitiously artful project. Indeed it is this desire to create art, one that is not couched in, say, a theoretical manifesto, that weighs down the film.

Reel Score: 3.5 (out of 10)

The short film ‘EmPlosive’ (2009), directed by Tyler Calkin, is two minutes long and can be found in the DVD insert of volume 22 of ‘blue moon.’  

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *