Nov 19th, 2007
Thanks, Peter, for this moment of zen. It has indeed been a long time since I sat and did nothing and even longer since I sat and watched someone else doing nothing – probably since Andy Warhol’s Eat, a 39 minute film of artist Robert Indiana eating a single mushroom. As with your video, about half way into the film, Indiana’s cat jumps onto the couch where he is sitting, curls around the artist’s neck for a few reels, then moves on. Eliding the important differences between them, the key to durational film and video is settling into a work’s internal temporal logic. When the cat enters frame after 15 minutes of Eat, it is as ecstatic as any cinematic experience I have ever had. Something similar happens in James Benning’s Sogobi when the helicopter appears after 20 minutes of static shots of unpopulated wilderness. Without 20 minutes of minimalism preceding it, the shot loses its power. Sadly, the days of durational film and video are numbered if not gone altogether – a Google search for Eat returns a YouTube video of a single, decontextualized reel with the cat, which seems to me to be missing the point entirely. And so, in the spirit of perversity, I offer the following remix of your excellent video for those who will not rise to your challenge, distilled to one minute, with a perky score by Bongwater, and converted for handy viewing on the iPod. How’s that for missing the point?