Realism(s) #12, or: garments

Łódź Symphony - Peter Hutton, 1993, 16mm


[Ryland asked me to contribute a little something to &review here it is. This text is for a video extract, about the curtain above. Update — now in print!]

Too often nowadays, we receive movies in degraded form. We might get to see more, but what we see in them lacks light and weight — it's getting more difficult to talk about anything material. But sometimes objects retain something of their real mass. An instance here, in a shot at the end of a film by Peter Hutton. It's a third-hand encode, but for once, in the curl of fabric, there's a memory of ribboned film, the pastness of an event: '...for we see that everything grows less and seems to melt away with the lapse of time and withdraw its old age from our eyes. And yet we see no diminution in the sum of things' (Lucretius).

The film's about the city of Łódź, its everyday sights and sounds: streets, walls, industry, workers, vagabonds, monuments. Hutton's made many of these on 16mm, portraits of cities, rivers, the sea: always silent, without narrative, never minimalist. Occasionally they're projected at festivals or in galleries, but the rest of the time they circulate underground in this basest of forms — unspooling as variable bitrates, not shadowplays. What remains is a mutable image pointed to an opening between two rooms, a camera in one and open to the other. The surface of the screen is greyed, faint, veiled by analogue flickers and colour warp, functioning like gauze. A net curtain billows in the wind, once and twice: at last, a semblance of light, a bleached sheet, a ghost of movement, a travelling of atoms. Clothes, curtains, leaves, they're the only way you can see the wind in movies. And the only way we'll remember them too.

1 comment:

Jacob W. said...

Really lovely post, thanks!...