9.3.11

Richard Garet & Asher Thal-Nir 'Melting Ground' Dvdr (Contour Editions, 2011)

Illuminations of Flicker-

"Richard Garet's melting ground," writes Jennifer Eberhardt, "flickers gently, pulsating and vibrating, co-opting for video flicker's affect/aspect of nostalgia."

The gentle pulsating affect of film flicker has the power to evoke a sense of nostalgia from not only those who've grown up with it, but also from observers of more recent generations, whose association's with the phenomenon stem from a lack of interaction with old forms of film screening technology. New generations -- rather knee-jerkingly -- perceive phenomena like flicker and discoloration as film defects. Melting Ground, however, utilizes these "defects" purposefully to evoke emotions, like nostalgia, usually associated with outdated technology, much like how philip Jeck or DJ Olive inject record crackle into their work, revealing, for a brief moment, windows into the past.

The visual portion of Melting Ground is a single, uninterrupted hand-held shot of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, as taken from inside a helicopter by Richard Garet. The footage was further processed by way of digital manipulation, in which, the natural condition, light, motion, rhythm, and duration were altered. Asher Thal-Nir provides a simple yet stunning soundtrack of the internal workings of a closely mic'd piano, while additionally he added looped fragments to create irregular structures within the piece.

The work unfolds slowly, gently panning across a sepia-saturated glacial landscape. Depth perception becomes a struggle to maintain on the part of the observer as the camera moves from high to low areas of contrast, on occasion the whole of a mountain side becomes drowned out by a pulsating white sky only to have, a few frames later, that same sky just as quickly retreat into the background. The disorientation and the overall blurred-focus style of the film allows one to really get lost in it's changing forms.

Eventually, Impossible figures reveal themselves in the snow and rock: human faces, roads of endless tire marks, close-ups of a fringed tablecloth, and Jesus on the cross, at times allowing me to forget the true nature of what it really is that I am looking at, not a place of complete and utter barrenness but one of life and movement, steeped in history.

It's difficult to "score" a film, and all too often the outcome is anything but good. But Asher managed to create a rather complimentary piece of music here that's as bleak and yet, warming, as Garet's visuals are. Compelling work and another winner for Contour Editions.

Visual Excerpts

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