Unreal Nature

June 2, 2016

The Instructions of the Sun

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:02 am

… offers viewers an escape … from the requirement to use every film experience as raw material for the production of verbal discourse — a discourse that, all too often, obfuscates the sense of mystery that has always brought us into the darkened space of the movie theater.

Final post from The Garden in the Machine: A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place by Scott MacDonald (2001):

… those films that tend to leave viewers speechless, that exist primarily as evanescent film experiences — rather than as texts that can be verbally represented, even photographically represented, outside the screening room — have tended to become invisible to film history, no matter how powerful the in-theater experience of seeing these films, no matter how distinctive and dynamic the Vision of these filmmakers is. No one better represents this tendency than Andrew Noren; his Imaginary Light (1995) is one of recent cinema’s most remarkable “secret gardens.”

… While it is tempting to “read” Imaginary Light, to articulate a discourse “about the film” either by verbalizing what seems to happen as I experience it or by formulating specific metaphoric comparisons between this experience and others, in fact, I see Imaginary Light as fascinating precisely in its resistance to conventional academic procedures for “dealing with” film. Anything Imaginary Light means, or seems to mean, is less interesting to me — and less relevant to the film — than the experience of being in a screening room as the film is happening.

[line break added] I am less concerned with understanding the film than with participating with Noren, in an experience that not only honors — even worships — natural phenomenon we take for granted and the capacity of a human technology to transform the everyday into the miraculous (a suburban yard into a visual Garden) but also confronts and revises — from within the flickering theater space itself — our sense of what a film and a filmmaker can do and be.

Even Noren himself has no interpretation of Imaginary Light, and accepts the film as a mystery: “It is a sort of visitation or inhabitation … which is the literal meaning of ‘inspiration,’ I guess. Unconscious urgings? Dictation from a higher authority, as Rilke might say? I can’t say. My take on this these days is … ‘I just work here. You’ll have to talk to the owner.’ … [W]hen I was making The Lighted Field, I dreamed one night that I was presented (I don’t know by whom) with a huge book. The Instructions of the Sun.”

[line break added] To the extent that his motives are conscious, Noren is a kind of documentarian “of the flow of light and shadow in that particular ‘home’ place … part of the eternal cosmic dance that goes on and on, whether or not we humans are here to see it and be in it.”

… However we understand the relationship between Noren’s filmmaking and his practical life [he was a news archivist in New York], Imaginary Light offers viewers an escape, not only from practical day-to-day realities, but also, in an academic context, from the requirement to use every film experience as raw material for the production of verbal discourse — a discourse that, all too often, obfuscates the sense of mystery that has always brought us into the darkened space of the movie theater.

andrewnoren
frames from Imaginary Light, 1995

My most recent previous post from MacDonald’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: