It has often become apparent that I may carry the genetic code for hibernation. The cold shortness of these days and the luxurious silk of the velveteen nights stretched between are a fine mesh with the clocks wound up in my cells. A little like amber the hours take me in. That is a fancy way of saying that I ain’t been doing much in the way of video and commentary. A poetically tweaked excuse for taking a break while world roils on unabated. A pause to protect.
Torpor is a kind of hibernation. The biological mechanisms of hibernation, particularly in terms of nutrition and metabolic regulation, has intrigued me for at least 4 decades. No surprise the concept has seeped into other parts of my mind and begun to turn them inward. Torpor is fueled by mobilizing stored layers of fat and sacrificing a little protein. That is how I approach winter, too. Mobilize stored thought and emotion. Sacrifice a little time and interaction. That most of the current video projects I am producing do not provide immediate content, is a bit like working in a dark cave or another place where animals might hibernate.
One of those projects involves making music videos with a local band On the Way to Uskudar. Yigitcan Ayraman, Stepen Spaise, and Greg Herriges. Part of our arrangement was to let me use pieces of their music, together and solo, in other video projects. After a day of shooting video, Greg handed me 3 CDs. I’ve been mining them for making new videos. I have built up a fairly large library of video clips featuring ocean waves, rivers, waterfalls, animals, and any number of scenes from making video and traveling the world for roughly 25 years. My process is to browse the video clips while listening to music that may become the soundtrack for it. While sorting through the nature scenes, I happened across digitized versions of 8mm film shot by my Father from the late ’60s through the early ’80s. I knew I had the footage. There is a lot more. I have often wondered what to do with it.
You see, Charlie Okar was a film maker, too. No doubt that frequent exposure to his films from my earliest days entrained my preference for Cinema Verite and slow video. Back then, I too young, too scared, and too ignorant, to ask him whether 15 minutes of a newborn grandchild squirming with their eyes closed was an aesthetic, technical, or emotional choice. I’m fairly certain that if making films entailed cutting, polishing, and gluing little clips of plastic, I’d be working in clay or some other more malleable media. That my Dad spent far more time making furniture and remodeling our home than cutting and gluing film clips tells me he knew it too. Watching his work so many years later and aching for something apolitical to edit with the bartered music, I decided to help my Dad finish a few films.
When I watched the source video that held the The Bubble Yard, the unrestrained joy of the Grandchildren and the sounds of my Mother and Brother laughing together in a film so carefully framed by my Father made my deepest genes twitch. The skeleton of The Bubble Yard is an intent to harness the Axiom of Maria and enact rites of healing and love. We are all bubbles, anyway. We may as well laugh when we can. We were once children immersed in bliss and safe at home. Three voices join Greg in the soundtrack, Mom, Brother, and Nephew, clipped from the original footage. It still strikes me how well the 2 Gregs, Herriges and Okar, were able to duet in minute 3. It was nice to be able to listen to my Mother laugh so genuinely. When I heard Olin III say, “what a great idea!” I decided to make the video. I think it worked.
Charlie Okar’s hidden camera classic Swing Set with 3 Kids and a Dog was the basis of this piece. To paraphrase the WWW definition of “shirabe”: inspect, investigate, and prepare. That is as good a description of my mental torpor as I can imagine. One of the benefits of editing myself during The Temple Tapes and Okar Effect eras was a form of self reflection. Here my Dad had given me an opportunity to work with raw footage from my childhood. No surprise that Dad’s candid camera captured me kicking the dirt and hitting my Sister. It happened every day. The tight correlation of old video to new sound reflects the ways that looking backward through time, even by the same person at the same event, distorts the memories and changes the context.
Full circle to New Year and the expectation of Winter. There we all were with model cars going in circles and the dog standing by a decked out tree. That is me with the shiny shoes and the Visible Man watching battery powered cars race around the track. In Old Xmas New Year the music is muszak and closes another cycle. This is a tribute to the good in shared Holiday cheer.
Looking backward, remembering and taking stock, is not all childhood abandon. The most recent year so often demands more attention and 2017 made a very good case for inclusion as history. Although I have been drawn to the streets and rallied for many a decade, last year felt a bit different. I’m not certain whether the change was mine or the people’s but I am thinking that all of us together have begun to shift the wind to our backs. Now is the Time and Time is Up. To paraphrase Pogo and Alice Walker, “I have seen the people we have been waiting for and it is us.” A few sentences from Yigitcan’s guitar put it all into frame.