Saturday 00:30

Nigel Goldsmith | 
2021 | 
United Kingdom | 
4:16 mins | 
Terminal presents the endless and unstoppable movement of machinery and goods that makes our modern throwaway society possible.

Terminal is one of our more experimental selections on this year’s iteration of Small Axe. Nigel Goldsmith’s 4 minute short engages us in ideas of commerce, industry and globalisation in an avant-garde aesthetic.

The choice of aesthetic, and its placement in the fiction category, brings to light some interesting ideas about social responsibility and representation for film-makers. Whilst a straight up documentary may engage us in hard, cold fact, Goldsmith’s choice of mirror image abstraction enlivens us to a certain un-human and un-natural quality to the state of globalisation and commerce in our world. Indeed, there is no pretense of being able to represent such a grand process: something as all encompassing as commercial industry seems to escape being seen. This reminds us of the idea of objective violence, a term coined by Slavoj Zizek to term the inherent violence of political and economic processes. In these images, though violence is not represented, something strange, cold and brooding, and at the same time alien, is communicated to us about the state of commerce in a globalised world.

In line with its sense of representing a pervasive process, there’s a certain hypnotic quality to the images. Combined with the unrelenting sound of industry and machinery, the film has lends itself a certain psychedelic, even mantric (emptied of spiritual resonance however), quality. The question of hypnosis and repetition arises in the arena of modern consciousness; are we ourselves hypnotised? Not only does this apply in the conventional sense – we are being hoodwinked! – but in the sense of a full hypnosis where the process of being hoodwinked is equally obscured. In this way, Terminal opens our mind to this fundamental obfuscation and asks us to consider the place of globalised industry within our lives.