Essay: Seven Sines

Free Association, 2021

For seven days of stage four lockdown, I returned to Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967), a 41-minute experimental film that zooms slowly through a room. The resultant text is an experiment in repetition, attention, constraint, digression, boredom. 


time’s creep isn’t seamless          sometimes it jolts 

through windows, the world moves          a frame imposed on time’s passing          arresting time is impossible, even in an empty room          white flashes          we ourselves flash and yearn (john berryman)           celluloid refracted through vhs refracted through vimeo          the limits of vision          inversion          a negative of nothingness          presence seeks an absence           even in an empty room, perception does backflips.

once upon a ____          yearning for narrative’s arc          clutching at the curling helix of a kite tail          now, i slouch into not-knowing          all i want is to pin down the shape of a day                     like bernadette mayer chopping vegetables, how rapt attention is to doing this as if it were a story          an exercise in small powers          to choose one’s frame. 

a man falls to the ground          we cannot bear it          time slouches forward          of course, we bear it          the camera leaves the dead behind          and the sound crests          animal buzz of convenience store neon          the mozzie’s deadly dance          slow waltz of water and air          in a room within a room within a room et al          my dad texts to remind me freedom is a state of mind.

laura mulvey subverted the male gaze by filming a sphinx under sharp skies          michael snow shows zigzags of clouds          ripples on water          film’s flickering skin          like visible pore craters, like death unsloughed          like, the dark side of the moon          pastoral geometry spied from a plane going nowhere          the sirens fall silent.

in park slope c&c learnt to time their lives with the ambulance’s wail. when they clocked off each night, they leant out the window and clapped for the frontline.

The full essay can be read here.