I have two versions of this work. The version on the blog now is the 2nd. In the 1st version the images never quite line up. They are always moving away or toward each other. This makes for very taxing viewing. When I watched the 1st version all the way through I found it too long.
After watching the 2nd version (the end came sooner than I expected) I realized that the traveling in and out of sync was much more engaging. I feel this variation gives the work more form and causes it to live more dynamically in the time it takes to transpire. In Ten on Ten his master class documentary on the making of the film TEN, Kiarostami talks of the importance of challenging the audience comfort zone. He also tells of his efforts to not “tax” the viewer unnecessarily. I appreciate his concern.
The work of Stan Brakhage is unquestionably masterful in its ability to challenge viewer comfort zones and thereby deepen the viewing experience. In my mind Brakhage’s films (especially the earlier work) can be unquestionably taxing to view. At the time of their creation these works’ frenetic, flickering, constantly changing character was a vital contribution to the deconstruction of traditional attitudes about film.
Although I understand the exhaustion I feel after an evening of viewing Brakhage’s painted film works is an important aspect of the works themselves, I am of the mind that the appropriateness of this response is historical. In the films’ time this response served a purpose and I appreciate it for that fact – it physically changed the way viewers saw film. I find in some of Brakhage’s later work more meditative, contemplative tones akin to those found in Kiarostami’s film FIVE. I find the later works of Brakhage and the current films of Kiarostami offer vitally important responses to cultural norms that perpetuate disconnect, superficiality, structural violence, distraction, and the demise of civility.
These are cultural norms whose validity, I believe, deserves to be challenged. It is my intent that my video works embody that challenge.