Love’s seasons

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I followed in Roberta’s footsteps, practically, today at the Art Museum (see her Dec. 2 blog), and saw pretty much what she saw, with a variation or two, for pretty much the same reasons.

I thought I’d weigh in on the Burt Barr “Autumn” video, which, without context seemed pretty lightweight–two turtles apparently doing the nasty slowly and without apparent passion, with a twist in perspective to make the content more mysterious. So turtles move slowly. And don’t go anywhere. Or even hardly move when in flagrante, in contrast to the grass which quivers in the wind, or the rain that falls.

But just like the turtles’ context and the camera’s angle is everything in understanding what’s cooking on a literal level, the context of some of Barr’s other work is everything in getting meaning out of this piece.

His “August” (image shown is from August) was a video remake of the rolling-in-the-waves unfulfilled embrace scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity.” The program notes stated (yes, there were program notes today), “In an endlessly repeating loop, the couple’s actions were projected below an image of the crashing surf… .”

Putting the turtles and their small, slow world, as nature shuts down for the winter, in the context of “August,” with its crashing passion and grandeur of nature during a season still bursting with nature’s productivity, somehow makes the turtles’ exercise seem rich with existential meaning.

The piece itself is quite beautiful, the grasses so green, the turtles so yellow and brown. I was interested to learn (again from those helpful program notes), “Barr instills a cinematic quality in the video image by shooting every other frame in soft focus.”

I didn’t know that video has frames. I have to think about this. I can understand how this might make a difference only if video doesn’t have frames, the rushing by of a film’s frames giving a different edge to what you see.

Anyway, while the program notes were helpful, seeing Barr’s earlier seasons would have been even more helpful. Context is everything.

 

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