1971-1980ExperimentalJim JenningsShort FilmUSA

Jim Jennings – Dispatch (1979)

Dispatch (1979)
‘Dispatch,’ another black-and-white film, begins with oscillating greyish surface modulations that move sideways on the screen, rendering our view a partial window to some larger movement taking place. Geographic graphic ribbings then ascend, and as perceived, the thought occurs we might be watching animated film. A shadow of a truck’s front end appears in movement, then comes gently to a halt: we know this image to be photographed, and yet the texture of the film itself hasn’t changed at all. Further readings of the upwards, downwards, and occasional obliquely graphic movements of the patterns on the screen soon describe to us the vantage point of the camera stationed above some traffic intersection.

Once privy to Dispatch’s ‘secret,’ i.e. knowledge of its utterly abstracted image source, one might anticipate diminished sympathy for further images along these lines expected to arise, but this is not the experienced at all. Instead, Dispatch unfolds along several further elevated keys, undeterred by having ‘lost its cool” to what orthodox abstractionists might view as indiscreet confession. Delectable paint drippings, pock-marked metals with variegated zonings on them, corrugated truck tops with some stencilled numbers all conspire to arrive, whiz by, or gently comport their pre-established dwelling places in the frame so that the viewer inadvertently engages in the delicate trompe l’oeils emerging. One suggestive clue to the nature of a moving surface then reveals itself to be, surprisingly, a truck; another, a car. Another surface leaves us with its disappearance a shadow of a tree, and we assume by what has gone before that what just passed was traffic, too, but specifically we’re at a loss to provide it with a name.

The spacings in between ‘events’ and the length of the ‘events’ themselves describe a breathing in breathing out of moments that qualify, not quantify, the anecdotes portrayed. In the short span of this film’s eight minutes we witness trucks and other traffic ‘beasts” in magical procession. A recent-vintage car, in passing downwards on the screen, asks us to look on its comely Detroit body. With a fast bright wink to all concerned, its windshield is reflector of the sun and skyscrapers around, and as a result appears as one impeccably dressed gangster who sports sunglasses, not wishing to be ‘seen.’ Behind him rides another shady character, similarly dressed.

Refreshingly, there is no taxing of the viewer’s nerves to prove a worried point. Alive abstracted surfaces present themselves, then move, then tarry, then sometimes identify their species as the camera apprehends their presences like happy visitors in view.

The last shot of Dispatch provides a longer than previously given dark, which finesses the viewer to be reading further traffic ‘signals,’ to read the surface as abstracted darkish vehicle or closeup of the road, only then to have it dawn on him or her that this is indeed the end.”
Gail Camhi, The Downtown Review, 1980.

130MB | 08m 08s | 1920×1080 | mkv


Language(s):No dialogue

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