Black-and-white picture. Shot on analogue 35 mm film. European director. No dialogue, no narration. Naked bodies. Primitive pinhole cameras, set up in a circle to capture the scene from 360-degrees.

If this sounds like the premise for an arthouse film, in some ways it is. The Creation by Andreas Neumann tells the story of Genesis in ten parts, framing it as the original love story – beginning with existential loneliness, followed by falling in love, seduction, separation, reconciliation.

At the same time, the artsy short film is a promotional video for the Keramag Acanto bathroom collection.

The Creation by Andreas Neumann for Geberit

The film is incredibly mysterious and romantic, starring a man and a woman who might be Adam and Eve, an angelic figure, and the suffering of lost love. The product placement should be awkward and incongruous amongst this artistic expression of powerful emotion, but the bathroom collection somehow manages to hold its own. The bathtub in particular helps to create a mood of intimacy and sets the stage for the growing bond between the couple. Later, a cabinet tower is used as a plot device to show conflict.

The cabinet tower literally divides the couple

Neumann has created a mystical black-and-white world that rejects the laws of physics, with a hypnotic composition that’s calculated to draw in the viewer in a way that most commercials never will. Thomas Brueckle, the head of marketing at Geberit (Keramag’s parent company) calls the film ‘an interruption of the constant consumption of bite-sized information’ caused by an overabundance of traditional advertising. To rise above the flood of information, you have to break a consumer’s viewing habits, and Brueckle believes Neumann’s unique film achieves this.

It’s a bold move for a sanitary manufacturer. Where are the gleaming product shots, the beautiful models with bland smiles, the glossy colours, the assurances of quality, the price tags?!

Instead, the German director gives us grainy analogue footage, using pinhole cameras – one hundred of them – arranged in a circle around the subjects. Each ‘camera’ is nothing more than a wooden box with a hole – the flash, which Neumann shines over the scene, is also the camera shutter. To avoiding exposing the light-sensitive film, the shots had to be set up entirely in the dark. Moving objects, such as soap bubbles, lengths of cloth, and flower petals, had to be held in the air or thrown overhead blindly by assistants.

Behind the scenes of filming The Creation

The analogue shots taken by each of the one hundred cameras are then assembled and animated to create a moving picture. This long-forgotten craftsmanship involved in the production process is something very special to Neumann: ‘It leaves a lot of room for personal creativity and offers far more ways to express something in comparison to modern photography. And the production process becomes a part of the art.’

Incredibly, that’s how both Neumann and his client see this work: as art, not advertisement. Considering the latest bit of 30-second trash YouTube has forced me to watch, they’re probably not wrong.

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