Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 159: Setting sail

Still from a Dorsky Film

"It is the direct connection of light and audience that interests me. The screen continually shifts dimensionally from being an image-window, to a floating energy field, to simply light on the wall. In my films, the black space surrounding the screen is as significant as the square itself. Silence allows these articulations, which are both poetic and sculptural at the same time, to be revealed and appreciated." -Nathaniel Dorsky

Showing a still from a Dorsky film is a bit deceptive, because in the lived experience you would only have a few seconds to decipher what it is you are seeing, before the frame changes and another something, sometimes recognizable, sometimes so abstract you have no choice but to just be with the color, light, movement, shape and sensation that is offered, before the next scene arrives. Sometimes the shapes and lines flip into recognition right before the change occurs. This carefully measured release of images stays consistent, and in silence, for 20-30 minutes.

Thanks to my sister Meridith, last night at the University of Milwaukee's experimental Tuesday night screening at the Union Theatre, I was able to see two films I hadn't seen before, Winter (2008) and Sarabande (2008) along with Song and Solitude (2005/6), which I saw last March. Each time I have experienced a screening they have been shown in sets of three, in silence, and projected at the slower, silent speed of 18 fps.. I realized after watching my first Dorsky film several years ago that to watch one is a bit like setting out onto a voyage- setting sail into sensation. The experience last night was deeply calming and transportive, and at this point in the semester (and year) this is something that everyone seems to need quite urgently. In Dorsky's world, we get to see our world anew, we go deeper, move slower, and stay longer basking in the light and shadow that make it. Flowers of brilliant color exfoliate, they tower and wave in gentle breezes. Dorsky waits, pauses and catches the undeniable grace of people moving in and out of buildings, cars, gesturing, moving in and out of fragments of light. He follows the lines of light, the refracted and reflective. The world transforms and we are left alone in the rain, in a field, up close, watching tree branches sway and beads of rain pool, clouds moving across a full moon. Everything is simply - more and just what they are. When you leave a Dorsky screening you feel as though you have been massaged, deeply moved in a place that doesn't often get acknowledged.

On a meta-scale, last night felt like a slowing down to be with this most changing and complex years of life before it passes. As the holidays gear up into full swing this week it seems like a good time to pause, be with what has made this year, and start the process of slowly preparing to move towards the next.

Read more reviews of Dorsky's work here.

Learn more about his book, Devotional Cinema here.

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