Holding Rhythm

Holding Rhythm, 2022 (12:22 minutes, color video with sound, loop)

Site-Specific Video Projection
21C Chicago Museum Hotel

October 2022 - October 2023

Holding Rhythm, video projection is viewable dusk-midnight from the interior-facing windows of 21c Chicago Museum Hotel. An experimental video that weaves together vast landscapes with captive animals, it looks at the contradiction of keeping wild animals in captivity, raises questions about what it means to participate as a spectator, and acknowledges nature’s capacity to calm or soothe. How can paying attention to forces and rhythms of our natural world be a guide toward symbiosis, and contribute to pathways toward remedy?


From conversation with Lee Deigaard:

“..frame speed is perfectly calibrated to what seems to me like the speed of thinking (of considering). It also seems like the speed of film of Warhol’s or other screen tests for cinema. Which I think were designed, weren’t they, for a hyper reality with a gravity that gives proper space and consideration to nuance. It is both dream and nightmare-like. It saves room and gives emphasis to facial expressions. And here to the animal’s pacing. As well as face.

Throughout there is a sense of the individual. Not a bear. This bear.

The yellow aspens and the transition to the tiger: Form and meaning merge powerfully in both the into and out of transition of the tiger. Similarly the birds to the crowded fish and how you take the moment so the viewer sees what looks like gasping among the fish after the possibly breathing like rhythms of the murmurations. Somehow even there, the viewer finds the individuals crowded within frame. Crowded in their container.

I was so fascinated by the beaver protagonist I almost had to check myself against admiring their activity and seeing what was their repetitive pacing/swimming. The beaver would draw in viewers at the outset, I do think, via captivation (I’m feeling the captive in that pun). You’ve got them and then you begin your segues. Which hold so much potential power. With the horizon line and intimation of the glass. We are looking at horizon through a barrier. The display is like an open anatomy dissection.

The tree footage works with the movement of the repetitive pacing. Which itself calls out across the animals. From left to right and back. And again.

What you do with waves (and the imputation of their inexorability, of their freedom to be.) The tides move regardless. The waves break. And later, with the frozen sea, the shards of ice in the foreground are so powerful. Along with the heaving of the ice in the water. But the shards looks like broken remnants too and most poetically. Which doesn’t deny force or honesty. But so that it presents itself, and lastingly, in the mind’s eye.

All of this lands with a viewer in the vicinity of yearning. To see and contemplate the gorgeous animal, what landscapes and the sublime can accomplish. But you are subversive, and when you connect a palette of yellows in a forest to the yellow ochers of fake rocks, the ways the bars are so rectilinear and squared, you oscillate between fully perceiving the protagonist (who suffers) and recognizing the barrier and what it really means to be on opposite sides of it. What it says about humanity. But how it shows it to the single human who watches as we all do. Within our own heads.

And I think there is something about the form and poetry merging in the transitions, when color or movement link the layers of footage. The commonality between taking the route of formal resonance on the route between captive and “free”. Between the animal contained and the landscape seemingly empty of animal. The way the cross-bleed implies the cryptic coloration. How animals hide in plain sight when we think we are alone in the woods. And by comparison, how very much they CAN’T hide in captivity. For the cross materialization, the vanishing and coming into view. How the concrete captivity cannot be otherwise.