Friday, June 22, 2012

June 21
David Politzer

Restless Arts

I watched this video for total of about an hour or an hour and a half. But I am looking at it again online. So I am writing this in the present tense.

A series of American vistas framed by grey and blue nylon. Like Bernd and Hilla Becher you see the variation because of what stays the same. What stays the same is the opening of the tent, a sort of rounded square shape, irregular on one side where the door flap is neatly tied. There are also two small rectangular windows in the two top corners. After a few times through the almost seven minute loop you begin to watch the landscape change through these subservient frames. Many of the views  are impressive. National Parks of the West maybe.  The vistas are so sublime and the tent so…sporty. These two visual elements are share the frame but are never reconciled exactly. I am reminded of the Gore-Tex-clad portraits of Karel Funk, the natural and synthetic butting up against each other.

The first several locations are likely camping spots: flat, dry, high ground. Then, the tent hovers just above a flowing river; we know this is a departure from the reality of camping. The tone is not quite serious, or not quite taking itself seriously. A sign reads “NO camping beyond this point” then the tent faces a chain link fence that guards a drop off (No camping beyond this point). A dog looks into the tent. There is a man with a metal detector on the beach. These shots are somehow funny.

When the tent begins to drag backward we know for sure we have departed from any likely camping scenario. This becomes more than a sequence of views from a pitched tent. It is implausible (you don’t usually move a tent more than a few feet this way) It also resembles the view of a person being held under the arms and dragged. It’s a helpless or wounded posture. Or it’s the point of view of an inanimate object.

At one point the tent swivels abruptly, correcting the view from one framed tree to two. At this moment the opening of the tent most resembles the viewfinder of a video camera on a tripod. Does the video address camping or making art? Are they related?  Are they parallel? Is it making an analogy? The camper sets up the tent, chooses the direction it faces conscious of the light, the view. The artist sets up the lens with some of the same criteria. But the element of dragging the view proposes a puzzle I cant quite complete. Which is probably good.

And Restless. What is the restlessness named in the title? Do people camp out of restlessness? I don’t think so, even if they change locations frequently. Maybe this is the restlessness that propels a person who enjoys both camping and recording but is unable to settle in and enjoy either process. Or maybe, and most interestingly, restlessness is not a driving force but a dragging force that moves it all impatiently in the opposite direction of the ideal view.


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