Unspooling Time

music by LUC FERRARI
2010 |  DVCPro HD |  24:00

Unspooling Time is a reflection about place and the moment. Set to Les Anecdotiques (2004), the magnificent final composition of the late French composer Luc Ferrari (1929-2005), the film posits a form of cinematic storytelling that aligns disparate moments into larger patterns of mood and tone. In both image and sound, anecdotal observations intermingle, adhering to a logic that is internal to the film itself.

Ferrari’s rich soundscape, a masterful aggregation of the found and the invented, seamlessly incorporates field recordings from various corners of Europe and the United States. Likewise, the images in the film are drawn from loosely linked and unexplained documentary vignettes shot in France, Japan and the United States. Ferrari’s sonic portrait, with its seeming continuity of time and space and its heightened sense of the literal passage of time, is paired in the film with a visual equivalent, a form of sousveillance (from the French “sous”, below, and “veiller”, to watch), which places the camera at street or ground level, affording an intimate view of people in the act of looking, thinking, working or playing. Views of white-collar workers arriving at La Défense in Paris are prominently featured, as is Chicago on Election Day in 2008, and Washington, D.C. the day after Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

As time is stretched or compressed, individuals are observed and assessed. Voices are heard, apparently in mundane conversation, as much musical notes as apprehended speech. Interior lives are seemingly brought to the surface, and at times voice and image hint at an interior monologue. Image and sound alternately declare their independence or briefly converge. Along the way, privacy and social structures are interrogated as the drama and mystery to be found in the everyday unfolds in threads and slices of time.