On a recent trip to the MoMA4 I had the chance to see a variety of wonderful short film works (this has nothing to do with film in Minnesota, but I’m rolling with it). As anyone who reads the blog will know I find Jeremy Blake’s work very interesting and I had the chance to see Angel Dust in person, which is entrancing and odd, with it’s digital reproduction of futuristic ski lodge.
This is snow flying.6
But the piece that really caught me was Rodney Graham’s “Rheinmetall/Victoria 8.” It’s really a very simple piece. It sits alone, in a room of it’s own. The film is of a German Rheinmetall typewriter, an obsolete machine. It is projected by a 1961 Victoria 8 projector, in it’s time considered to be “the Rolls Royce”1 of film projectors. The Victoria 8 is a loud hulking machine, the centerpiece of the room. The film takes in different angles of the Rheinmetall, showing in it’s entirety, then in jarring angles, revealing the inner workings of the machine, it’s subtleties, it’s precision. The room is set up in such a fashion that the Victoria is the center of attention in the room, but convention tells us that the true focus of the room should be the film, but the loud clacking and mass of the projector demand attention. Slowly snow begins to fall on the typewriter. Accumulating in odd place, piling and cascading over the edges. Coming to neat, fine point on the keys, leaving a dusting around the edges. The film oddly entrancing, it’s oddness demands an attention of it’s own. As the film progresses the dual demands for attention, and the inability to satisfy both needs births a sort of anxiety. There is a battle going on in the room. The two machines are at war with each other2. Mutually dependent3, yet at odds. Two obsolete machines, allowing each other to exist, and demanding exclusively. I don’t wish to go into the repercussions of this or anything else, just that one fact about the piece was really powerful; it was an odd sensation, the kind of disquieting anxiety and dissatisfaction that art should produce.
1I have no idea who said this, but I read it somewhere else, so I’m citing something that I have no idea the origins of. But I did it, I didn’t say, so I’m citing it, here.
2So to speak.
3Look at me.
4I have posted this on my other blog as well. Why?5
5 Because I felt like it. And it makes it look like I post more often than I do. No one reads this anyway.
6 in the film. Angel Dust.