Doldrums: On the Uncanny Domestic

Programmed by Elise Schierbeek | 1981 - 2014 | TRT 01:10:00

Video Details
Bob Snyder | 1981 | 00:06:00 | United States | English | Color | 4:3 | Video

This tape deviates from the more purely formal investigations of Snyder’s earlier work; it has no soundtrack and uses camera images exclusively. Employing Quantel digital effects and editing procedures, a novelty in video post-production at the time, Snyder manipulates images of tract houses shot in a small Indiana town. Cubist re-constructions of the monotonous facades fracture spatial planes into intricate geometric arrangements, with frames enclosing frames, spiralling like Chinese boxes. Based upon the confining regularity of the architecture, the repetitive box-form serves as a metaphor for the regimentation of life in industrial societies, while the silence suggests tension and aridity rather than serenity. The rhythm of the wipes that unfurl from the borders is emphasized by the eerie stillness.

This title is also available on Bob Snyder: Sound and Video 1975-1990.

About this program:

Video Data Bank is pleased to present the VDB TV program Doldrums: On the Uncanny Domestic, programmed by Elise Schierbeek, VDB's Digital Collection and Media Manger. As spring awakens, the program takes us to blue skies, sunny subdivisions, and back indoors to feel something beneath it all.

Taking a cue from the evocative title of Stephanie Barber’s The Hunch that Caused the Winning Streak and Fought the Doldrums Mightily, this 70-minute program drifts through six works that rest on a sense of dread and eeriness within the home and suburban domesticity. Through varying modes, each work deals with a rupture of "the doldrums." Often, this takes the form of revealed contradictions – a haunting within the comfortable, an instability within the ordered. Works by Stephanie Barber, Cam Archer, Bob Snyder, Frédéric Moffet, Cecilia Condit, and Michael Robinson are included. 

Elise has also written an accompanying essay that explores the relationship of the program to the concept of the uncanny and its psychoanalytical origins in ideas of home and video. The essay is available to read here.