“un still” by Hugo Glendinning

Wednesday, 26 June 2013
7:00 pm
Bing Concert Hall

Blog Response by Rebecca Chaleff

The presentation of Hugo Glendinning’s un still is simple: a triptych of images cycle and fluctuate to the silences and swells of an accompanying score.  On the screen, we see pictures of stillness as well as motion.  We see moments that are caught by the photograph, their kinetics suspended in time, and we see moments that are sustained by the photograph, seemingly expanding beyond the temporality that frames them.  Themes of time course through un still.  There are images that have no time (a dead bird on its back, wiry feet delicately curled beneath a feathered belly), and images that are distinctly marked by time (the differences in age of a single woman, pictured over the course of 25 years, not to mention the more obvious, neon glow of the timer counting down the minutes in the background of Merce Cunningham’s Ocean).

There are images of nature that cannot be placed within a temporal or physical locale, and images of bodies that are equally mysterious.  There are those we recognize: Trisha Brown sketches the arcs and crosses of her movements with charcoal on paper in one of the few moving images of the piece, Ron Athey’s naked and inked body swings amid the tall perches of dark birds, Michael Clark sits poised in the rehearsal process.  There are those we cannot recognize: small children, one whose head barely peeks over the edge of a bath, one who lies with his eyes closed peacefully and one tiny hand resting on his chest, one who tosses a ball and jumps all over the white sheets of a very large and cozy-looking bed.

But what is most engaging about these images—whether seen individually or collectively—is not how repetition renders them recognizable, but how their pairings within the context of accompanying images refuses this feeling of familiarity and stasis.  No two images change at the same time.  One remains while the others around it change; and as the others around a single image change, that very image changes, too.  Through these progressions, we are made aware of the range of beauty within each photograph as framed by associations.

In un still, the image incorporates its own after-image: the impression is invested in the longevity of its transformation.  We see not only what is pictured, but what is in between these pictures.  We add motion to the stillness, meaning to the metaphor.  We imagine the feet we hear scuffing the floor in the soundscape of the score and we hear the variety of their echoes.  We become authors of these echoes, imagining a series of connections all our own.  Glendinning seems to be encouraging us into a daydream punctuated by his beautiful photographs.  “Let me show you this,” he seems to be saying, “and now this.  And now…”  And we fill the blanks.

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