Mónica Savirón took on the task of writing a survey review of nearly two hundred films that were shown at Views from the Avant Garde at the New York Film Festival, 2013. She has informed me that this writing is only the beginning of what she would have liked to be able to say concerning my own work. In the excerpt presented here, Mónica also covers the final show at Views which was made up of my two earlier films, Ariel and Kodachrome Dailies from the Time of Song and Solitude (Reel 2).
Nathaniel Dorsky, a savant in the art of looking and listening back, presented the films Song (2013), Spring (2013), the hand-processed Anscochrome Ariel (1983; same film stock as Stan Brakhage’s 1958 breakthrough Anticipation of the Night), and the Kodachrome Dailies from the Time of Song and Solitude (Reel 2, 2005-2006). Dorsky brought to the screen the peaceful gravity of film, which seems a means of survival—re-live time as a relief and as a belief. He is a magician of light and color, who possesses the secret concoction for subtile beauty by relying upon a mystic communion between the light and its shadow. Igniting the screen with a flagrant will of transcendence and revelation, his films are a confession that rises from soul to mind. These films have not only the sempiternal charm of celluloid, but are also consecrated to divine aspirations, to achieve true moments of no return. In mystical terms, he is like a cherub with a silent bugle. His work is a continuous return to the origins, and their visionary, refreshing qualities. His attitude is equivalent to the hermit’s decision to stop withdrawing from the world, and to be the world—that place where the subtlest inflections of light become a revelation, when not a miracle. His editing breathes like transpiring needlework, and the film intervals feel like the holes of a crochet. The movement of his camera responds to vertical investigations. Repeated motifs, like the walls we have to climb to access the past, or the sunlight that splatters our mood, elevate the mystery of light to a gift of lucidity.
Reel 2 of the Kodachrome Dailies was shot during the summer of 2006. It reflects the colors engrained in Kodachrome seen through an internegative, and is the footage as it was shot with the discards removed from the work print. The images are the work of a cameraman composing, very much in the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays:
Can crowd eternity into an hour,
Or stretch an hour to eternity.
He searches for The Over-Soul that transcends consciousness with film reflections on nature, animals, people at the street market, awnings blown by the wind, grids, shades, and a need for poetry to sublimate, filming the pages from Ash Wednesday (1930), by T.S. Eliot:
Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
Dorsky lets his images touch one another, enables them to manifest with no verbal handle. It is a work that needs to be seen in an intimate setting, that permits the images to be listened to—expanding the imagination, and allowing the screen to be a floating planet, rather than a picture frame of an eclectic world.
Song is a reaction to Dorsky’s previous film, April (2012). He shot the film as winter’s solstice was approaching, and San Francisco was getting rainier and darker. Dorsky seeks for the essence of our lives. He wants our psyches to mirror our way of seeing. The camera moves, and time-lapse effects filmed in Sevilla create a sense of vitality. The fixed shots are energized through changing light on the skin of a hand, on a mannequin’s face, through the prism of raindrops, the exhaust of a car, or the grids that perforate vision, and change our perspective. Spring shimmers with the beauty of oneiric nature. Reading Dorsky’s Devotional Cinema (Tuumba Press, 2003) is like opening a manual of instructions to navigate the waters of this film-dream. His camera acknowledges the formal qualities of the outside world, and transmutes them into elucidatory reflections of our selves. The varied permutations of light and framing substantiate the infinite with open-ended evocations. He shoots the flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which only open with direct light. In his film, Dorsky increases luminosity in the presence of the flowers. Light and life nurture one another. Film and nature flourish with light. “After all” —Dorsky describes in his book— “here we are, on a planet, illuminated by a glowing star”.
Link to the complete articles on elumiere.net in two sections: