Far, Along (2001)

FA_630-355.eyesFar, Along, a collaboration with Brian Karl,  is an attempt to look at memory traces of World War II as they interpret, rewrite and gradually depart from the constantly evolving present day Germany.  The project constructs a document which both questions and reflects the overlaps and contradictions between the experience of private individuals on both sides of the division of “German” and “Jewish”, as well as unpacks the unresolved stereotypes and seemingly integrated units or groups that this division breeds.  The goal of the work is to undermine the danger of having the representation of even such a dramatic event as the Holocaust crystallizing into an all too familiar, nearly static History.  In an oblique, nuanced manner, relying on almost imperceptible, digitally effected disruptions of images and sound of everyday scenes (as in our earlier work), we are attempting to elicit and tease out those marks of the past which might otherwise remain latent, but which transform and interrupt any innocent view of contemporary Germany.

The piece offers a fractured, shifting and disorienting perspective on ordinary, day-to-day life, thus hinting at signs of the history which daily life masks.  In attempting to comprehend the work, the viewer cannot but confront the fragmented evidence and point of view which the images, sounds and voices provide.  There merely exists the recognition that all that is visible is situated within destruction and loss, in dispersed elements and fleeting personal insights.

FA_630-355.trainThe images, taken from a range of scenes shot in Munich, Germany, feature long moments of inaction intercut with fast paced movement.  The shots are woven not by means of a governing story or character, but through echoing motifs which position the depicted minute events in the shifting space between a world documented or perceived and a world projected, invented by imagination, memory and personal perspective, both current and past.  The moments depicted include individuals at tram stops; scenes of eating and drinking in bars, cafes, restaurants, underground kiosks and domestic settings; interiors of trains; religious ceremonial gatherings; people waiting outside theaters and museums; walking, riding bikes; markets and side-streets in residential neighborhoods, as well as public parks, promenades and riverside walkways.

Visual motifs consisting of simple gestures of hand and face seen in passing, allow the piece to acquire a textural cohesion that sometimes registers with a heightened sense of a private reality.  These motifs include individuals looking away from each other while sharing a common space; staring blankly; faces masked in various ways (covering eyes, ears, mouth); looking at watches; looking or pointing up, skyward; individuals peeping directly at the camera; crouching; people repeatedly walking away from the camera.

Digitally rendered audio and visual effects, designed to create an impression of slippage and disorientation within the everyday, and to accentuate an awareness of the multiplicity of personal perspectives, are used to break open the image at its spatial as well as temporal axis by hinting at concealed spaces or “folds” within the frame.  This is accomplished, for instance, by zooming in on one element while the overall composition remains constrained to a single, steady perspective; by multiplying the images of single characters or by sustaining and echoing elements of sound and voice within a single shot; by effecting a gradual, unmotivated disappearance (or reappearance) of figures from what might otherwise seem a mundane moment.  Brief segments of interviews with mostly older contemporary Germans are integrated within recordings of the ambient location sound.  The mesh of voices and sound tilts back and forth between offering a possibility of a link and deliberately marking a gap separating present and past.

Our goal is to mobilize and fracture the seeming integrity of the depicted moment and the identity of the individuals portrayed, and through the cracks, to expose the overlap of private and public, remembered and seen.