The Swing

Videofreex

1972 | 00:17:20 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: Art Collective, Image Processing

Simultaneously dark, surreal, and unnerving, this seventeen-minute tape is a stark departure from the usually playful productions of the Videofreex. Through the use of slow fades, processed audio, and the juxtaposition of often-times violent imagery with a bleak, winter forest, the viewer is thrust into an atmospheric and experimental trip.

The opening shot captures the rotating motion of a tree swing whose ropes have been intertwined, ambient sounds of birds chirping and wood creaking in the background. As the point of view dreamily swings, distorted laughter can be heard echoing alongside a drone pulse of electronic noise. The image of a flowing river washes into view, eventually fading out to reveal the glimmer of a switchblade. This sequence gives way to the fileting of fish at a market. Then, a mouse being devoured by a snake. Another fade, and a cleaver swiftly comes down on a rooster’s neck – it spastically flapping its wings. The intense movement of that shot is contrasted by the next wherein, slowly and methodically, a butcher slits the throats of three sheep. The laughter, drone pulse, swing and stream return in a multi-layered shot melting the images and sounds together. This marks a shift in the video, the resulting, final sequence taking place along a partially frozen stream in the woods. The camera, in voyeuristic first person, follows a cloaked figure at a distance. Sometimes they enter the field of vision, always from afar, other times, the camera looks around as if lost – nothing but dead trees and the rocky, ice-covered creek. Heavy breathing behind the camera becomes more and more audible, one gets the feeling of panic, and a rough cut shows the cloaked figure looming above for an instant – the laughter from earlier begins again. Shortly thereafter the video abruptly finishes, and an end-card reading “EDITED AT MAPLE TREE FARM” appears – this too slowly fades away.

 — Nicolas Holt, 2016

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Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001

 

Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001

 

 

Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung