Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Child's Book of Image

The light bulbs always go off when I'm swimming. Today [stroke, stroke, stroke] it dawned on me that each video piece I make is simply a children's storybook. Yes! They are little books to be read--that is, "looked at"--and read again and again or, maybe, not at all. It is an oddly impersonal relationship for the artist and creator. My voice or, what I actually think about the material end, is not necessarily the important thing.
1. The story--the actual detail of grammar, structure, word choice and style--is not all that important, either. [gasp!] Children's stories are NOT like high poetry, where each word, each line break, is painstakingly chosen. These stories are essentially generalized and, even in printed book form, more a general reference than an instruction manual.
2. The story takes second place to the image, to the illustration.
3. Children's storybooks are easily abandoned. How many have been tossed in the sandbox or left to crisp and warp in the sun? One can look at a pretty picture, read a little bit, but wander away. This is not because the end is so predictable, but because it's familiar enough to allow one (guilt free!) to run off to another game.
4. The stories, in this 'go ahead, abandon me' way, invite the reader to invent. Some children might play out the "real" end, while others tweak the tale: she kisses the frog and the frog explodes! Millions of frog fragments, and the spattered slimy rest of him, begin to look like some Jackson Pollack painting...and she, gathering specimens to look at under her microscope, is delighted by this turn of events. Heh, heh, heh.
5. The important voice, in fairy tale or bedtime story, belongs to the reader or listener at that given moment. This is not like reading Hemingway, or Joyce, or Eggers, where one mulls over the meaning and intention of the material, wondering about the author's point of view or objective. Children's stories, timeless as they are, exist most vividly in fleeting instances.
6. The story takes second place to imagination.
If my videos are little "image stories," what then, of the music? There are times when I think of the videos themselves as silent music, as silent studies in rhythm. Their "music" is just another layer to the storytelling.  Actual audio might complicate the plot.


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