Directed and produced in collaboration with Luke Smithers, ‘Fragile Machines’ is a gripping artistic film by the New York based Derek Johnson Studio. Exploring the intricate emotions and anxieties that come with the experience of cheating, the unconventional film takes us on a tender journey of longing, desire, sex, guilt, connection, and emotional distance.
In the six-minute film, the actors utilize a form of contemporary dance called improvisation, where movement of the body is fluid and freemoving, with creative exploration of space, shape, and dynamism. With a haunting score that builds tension and drama as the film progresses, ‘Fragile Machines’ uses this improvisation to depict the story of a married couple and the affairs they both partake in. Flitting between seasons, with sun-drenched and then snow-covered scenery, the protagonist can be seen contemplating memories of her affair with another woman. We quickly realize her husband too is having an affair with his colleague, before a jarring confrontation between both characters reveals their relationship to be irreparable.
Johnson, who also created the provoking soundtrack, took two years to film and edit the piece, preferring instead to let the film evolve naturally through collaborative discovery with the cast. Lending important visibility to queer relationships within the realms of heteronormative structures like marriage, ‘Fragile Machines’ questions the extent to which our innermost desires for human contact are met, defying age and convention in a stunning and bold portrait of intimacy.
Fragile Machines questions the extent to which our innermost desires for human contact are met, defying age and convention in a stunning portrait of intimacy.