In Miko Revereza's first long-form documentary, No Data Plan, there is a constant deferral of identity through intertextual dissonance. We read text on-screen and hear testimonies, musings, and memories. Speech and visualization are often in contention but always attempting a connection impossible in these transits— a passage for the politically and legally disembodied. The spectator must labor to make sense of an uneasy narrative that eludes symbiosis. Airports, trains, stations, waiting rooms and the ever-recurring train platform are all elements of what Marc Augé refers to as the "non-places" of supermodernity. Towards the end, Revereza recalls a dream in which he cannot leave the airport in Manila. He is trapped and yet always moving. Close-ups of condensed spaces in the train compound the temporal anxieties of sudden irregular cuts that disrupt Revereza's mostly quiet examination of this architecture.
Revereza's stunning short Disintegration 93-96 attempts to reconcile the father figure with one's own, examining how that relation is thwarted by the experience of attempting to become valid, not-aliens within inscribed boundaries that deny them legibility. The parent is an alien, bound in intimate observation and knowledge. No Data Plan is interjected with narrative fragments of his mother's affair, of which he was the sole confidant. Revereza situates his mother's alienation in the train's empty plastic and metal surfaces, and inaccessible landscapes viewed through the window. Such cold surfaces are the material upon which he inscribes his text. Water-stained windows, liminal blue topographies— No Data Plan is a meditation on the scratched, tainted surface and its legibilities and occlusions.
Hyperreal static surfaces substitute and permeate Revereza's landscapes in Disintegration and his more experimental shorts— traces of which are visible in this film. It is as though only the mercurial, jagged line can gesture to the constant flux of the filmmaker's existence: his travel, the movement of the non-circumscribed but spatially stifled body. Yet these trajectories, however indirect, provide a line of flight into honesty outside such borders. At one point, a female voice posits, after narrating an anecdote about Drake's rap: "…if only everyone made art about their zodiac [signs], the world would be a much more honest place."
Mama sends him pictures of freeways in between US cities— "motion blurs," he writes. When in motion, the seeming stolidity of the train reveals its creaking, fragile construction: parts moving in disharmony, on the precipice of fracture. Revereza's constant vulnerability is the locus to which the film returns but never ends merely there. No Data Plan makes visible the stories and invisible labor of the immigrant, the female, and the female migrant— of being, and becoming migrant. The film configures the figure of the maid or nanny, her reproductive and affective labor made embodied, beyond that of Revereza's own boundedness. Imperfect memories flow over static, scratched and scarred surfaces, and transiently flit across public screens separating the non-place of the train from the space of collective memory. Revereza's camera often fixates on the railway tracks— immovable, unyielding— unlike other encountered horizons. We are in "butt-fuck-nowhere" with the filmmaker, his camera, and the spectral passengers made solid only through voice.
These 'nowheres,' or rather 'anywheres,' are not devoid of the socio-political, but occluded in the dominant visible sphere. Revereza's camera makes these peripheral states visible, and thus valid, as do his texts. The unseen passengers are, for a moment, no longer peripheral. Within the collusion of voices, barely intelligible voice-noise, space, and non-space, there is a sense of the communal. No Data Plan subverts the self-centric mode of the generic road film, and never gives into the easy tropes of travel documentary. At times, the visual and symbolic collide expectedly within the self-reflexivity of this work— notably when a story of leaving is voiced over an image of the train's exit sign.
Shifting horizons, receding loci of horizons, and transient lines abound in the architecture of this non-place. In a particularly long take, we move away from the mouth of a tunnel until it becomes a point that dissipates into a chasm, and is re-found once again, as the train leaves the tunnel. A signpost indicates the journey has moved into New Mexico. Beginnings and ends are unimportant— only the re-finding of their traces and reiterations matter. In the last fragments of his journey, Revereza reveals his plan to leave the United States, where he has been living undocumented for most of his life. Leaving the country means leaving his mother, an outward movement standing in opposition to the westward aspiration. She says "I wish I could leave too" and we wonder why. It is inscrutable to some of us, whereas a reverse aspiration would not be. In No Data Plan, the familiar economy of such narratives is cracked open to allow liminal flows of post-immigration desires to trickle through. As Revereza stands on the last platform, the train itself becomes a tunnel, receding, and the re-finding is left outside the frame.