Unspooling Time

2010 | Color | HD video | 24:00

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Unspooling Time reflects on visual and aural perception as it dwells on 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, tone, intimacy and cognition. Anecdotal observations intermingle in both image and sound, adhering to a logic that is internal to the film itself.

Ferrari’s rich soundscape is a masterful aggregation of the found and the invented that 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 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.

Time passes, often stretched or compressed, as 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. Privacy and social structure are interrogated along the way as the drama, narrative and mystery to be found in the everyday unfolds in threads and slices of time.