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& (A film in 13 scenes, scene 11)

for M

 

The next section is very lyrical, it may as well belong to a quiet documentary.  After the furious bellow of the moles it is certainly a relief to no longer be watching many wounded creatures try to stand. One takes a breath when it becomes clear that the eyes will not be asked to stare at such a thing again. That breath is held because of course a guillotine could always appear. Or at least something either heavy or sharp or flammable let alone all three. At which point we are right back where we started as the breath is held close like smoke as time rushes red across a floor following the small spaces between planks of wood let alone concrete. But here things will be different. The breath can be exhaled. Instead in this scene a woman wanders a city alone. There are no colors just small inflections of gray. She is wandering the city which is empty. This does not provoke fear even though it might signal that she is the final human breathing in this city if not the entire world after all a city is never truly empty. Even when the world has left it to die there always remain those who were not told that this was the new era. She is walking alone. She is not unbeautiful her skirt is held by the wind as if the wind was trying to flatten portions of fabric into planes. But because there are legs that move beneath those smoothed spaces they fall apart into curls which the wind will flatten once more. That is how it is as she walks constantly overlaid by a dress that is made into triangles or squares regardless of the fact that it has no dyed patterns. It is sketched into form as if a blueprint of many dimensions was a dress yet legs never go according to plan. There is a certain strength to her thighs they widen near the top toward each other. The muscle contracts. She is not sprinting because there is no fear but they do not remain constant. No the thighs in which a force beneath a surface can be detected push forward against to shatter what would be a sheet of ice & canvas & plaster if the wind could carry the day as it carries back & up the tight coils of her hair quick aloft like plans awry & stray

Perhaps because the film is impatient as it comes closer to its ending, it does not take hours to show her walking through the city.  Instead there are shots of different parts of the city or different perspectives onto it. A column shot from below so that its capital hangs a cornice over a trunk. A sign in a window advertising cigarettes but not a brand that has a name just a picture of a woman standing by the window of a building with the gel holding her hair as if it was gusted. A window unsettled in its frame. Large buildings that look to be made of nothing but windows. One can hardly believe that such a thing could ever stand or that you could stand to live within it. The busted stairs which are not shot still but rather with the glide of that which does not move by means of the placing of feet at points of increasingly higher elevation. An arch. Something is written on the stone above it but it has been worn away or perhaps painted over with the color of stone. A dumpster on its side. A house another house. Many gutted houses. Telephone poles from which the wires have fallen. Doors of iron or fallen doors of wood that hang heavy on their chalken hinges. A chair left by the edge of the street. All of these things are shown to us but not as she passes amongst them. No they are overlaid on top of the image of her on another street looking at walls there. This is managed by a unique capacity of film through which one can watch movement through a space on which another space is laid without crowding it as so many animals have been. Without bringing the roof of the world upon itself like the cathedral within which those who were cold huddled & spat & piled the things they had gathered from the taken city to make heat that exceeds that of marrow & her

Something has gone wrong, something is going wrong.  One of the images laid over her stride seems to have gotten stuck. Rather than dissolving slow to cede its place to a moving capture of a fence that binds the edge of an unused lot it remains in place. It being a shot taking in the point of junction where wall-sized window meets wall-sized wall. An angle that joins together two planes. In so doing it speaks to the way that in a city we are frequently confronted with images that encourage us to think that the world consists of the laying edge to edge of that which may be alike but which should never touch. This shot of two things of equal size but unable to share anything makes this painfully clear. We dream of windows all the way down or walls that encircle us to hold lives inside like the guts of a stabbed belly. If they are not pressed close by walls as hands press close we will gush forth. We will spill rushing out the window that is where a wall should have been if only those who planned a city had the courage to raise solid the gathering lines behind which we take sides or turns. The film includes this very sense in the image of the junction that gets stuck. We do not know if it gets stuck because so much is embedded within it or if that sense gathers around it because it does not dissolve as it was expected to have. No it stays there while that same wind that makes shapes of her dress to be broken by the pistoned flesh of the thighs carries all this sense of the stabbed or the unheld. It is born aloft & along until speck by speck of doubt drifts like black snow or for that matter rats into the corner of window & wall

Something goes very wrong, although it is not just a temporary technical problem to be resolved by an adept projectionist.  We would be willing to tolerate a single overlay that did not quit when it should have. After all it only occupies a restricted lower left portion of the frame leaving a lot of room for a woman to walk through the city as well as for the city to keep being seen in portions that arise only to dissolve leaving behind the vague sensation of having not merely passed through but also of having looked specifically. That wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that it is not the only stuckness to occur. Only the first one. In the far right edge of the frame a staircase proves resistant to dissolution. It remains obstinate even as the image that should replace it that of a gasometer on which plays rippling the reflected light of a nearby river comes to cover it. Then that too is stuck. Something is going very wrong. There is an increasing frequency of architecture that has forgotten how to rot. The screen begins to cluster with this new permanence. Our attention previously has been drawn first to the emergence of new points of view then second to the way that they do not adequately disappear. As this process continues as the space of the screen gets thickened with the residue of looking the primary zone of movement is her thighs.  It is her dress that breaks with every stride yet something different has been going wrong. Her movement is limited. It becomes clear that not only has the secondary surface of the overlaid images gotten stuck as if memory went on a garbage strike. The stench must be tremendous because there is no fire to aid in the process of ashing. Worse than that is the way that the layers in piling up must have forced their way down into the very plane of her movement. She finds it harder to walk. Her shins bang into the edge of a zone of a skyscraper’s upper floors many miles away. Blood runs down them. Her steps become shortened toward a shuffle. Perhaps it was not fair to say that this scene has truly left behind the terrain of the animals trying to stand free of their cages because we cannot separate the wrecked from the wreckers or a body’s passage from a city’s time in the space. Behind her a gutter turned sideways means that the buttocks must be jutted forward just ahead of the lower curve of the spine. It is not just a problem for the legs. The torso as well is bound into the remaining space that exists when a close-up of a chair left on the sidewalk is stuck in place. She bends. The back is hunched still she walks. A bridge is too much to bear. It intersects the door of a bank. Her body is distorted into a bundle that can no longer walk. The breath itself is all that remains. A slight heave of the chest as it struggles to find motion within a city that has forgotten how it would be to crumble into the past.  It knows only how to build anew. A parking lot squats into the hollow of the underside of a cafe table she is squatted with it. A billboard squeezes amongst the chrome rails of an unwheeled shopping cart she is squeezed. She does not cry aloud. The city cannot stop accumulating images of itself so she & the image of her  are gathered up like rags & crammed like unwashed bones into the only spaces that remain & soon even that will not be enough especially for what has pulled hard against this barbed era’s junker storm of heaving & hoarding

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