”This rarely screened 1989 masterpiece by Pat O’Neill is a moving meditation on industrialization, focusing on the dystopic desert created by Los Angeles’s vast water consumption. O’Neill conceived the film partly as an answer to Godfrey Reggio’s mind-numbing Koyaanisqatsi (1983), a hypnotic inventory of touristy landscapes showing a world out of balance. In contrast O’Neill creates images full of internal contradictions, using optical printing to collage different locales and suggest the inevitable conflict of industry and nature. One slow dissolve between the Owens Valley desert and Los Angeles at night suggests a direct cause and effect: the city flourished only by despoiling the land. Using time lapse to make weather changes visible, O’Neill renders people as fleeting shadows whose power to alter the landscape fails to mitigate the fragility and shortness of human life on a geologic scale.” – Fred Camper, The Chicago Reader Read More »
Trouble in the Image is a collection of visual and auditory ideas, many of which seem to radiate a sense of internal conflict, irony and rage. The film has no continuing characters, but is made up of dozens of performances dislodged from other contexts. These are often relocated into contemporary industrial landscapes, or interrupted by the chopping, shredding, or flattening of special-effects technology turned against itself. All is not lost, however. The reward is to be found in immersion within a space of complex and intricate formal relationships, where subject matter is almost irrelevant. The film was accumulated over a seventeen-year period by a filmmaker who continues to insist that film can be an art form independent of storytelling.
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Horizontal Boundaries takes on Los Angeles as an uncertain subject, a displaced location in space and time. Shot in and around the city and other locations in California with “the intent to produce “synthetic” depictions of locations made up of multiple and disparate parts,” O’Neill combines the visual effects with a visceral soundtrack that demands the total attention of the viewer. As O’Neill writes, the goal is to “present an image that is both clearly understood and obviously altered. Altering the imagery from its original photographic state raises inevitable questions concerning its reception: What are we to believe? How is a representation changed by proximity with another? How does contradiction, itself, represent our experience?” And goes on to point out that, “My films share some of the concerns of other experimental filmmakers worldwide: defining parameters for the representation of space and time, exploiting personal experience as metaphor, using archival materials in a restated context.” – Cherry and Martin Read More »