Stan Brakhage

Self Song / Death Song (1997) 16mm, color, 5 min

Genre: Experimental

SELF SONG documents a body besieged by cancer. The amber glow of narrowly focused, minuscule, layers of flesh and skin suggests both victory and submission to death. The warm colors of the flesh and textures of the skin seemingly suggests a body which is very much alive. Yet, there is always an impending darkness. Blackness surrounds the image and, occasionally, takes it over altogether. Furthermore, the complex grooves and patterns of the flesh struggle to maintain their focus, suggesting the obscuring and dissolving effects of cancer. In DEATH SONG the response to death is certainly more positive. The film begins with a smooth palate of blue hues. The blue returns toward the end of the film as a rigid and structurally organized screen, which suggests the permanent aspect of death. But initially it serves to contrast a blinding sequence of overexposed yellow frames. Within these images are drowning microscopic organisms. Their structure and energy is laid bare for us. However, these images are constantly being 'washed out' by a 'grubby' whiteness, which seeks to dissolve the image entirely. In this respect, we might view the purity of whiteness as being 'soiled' and encompassing. The all-encompassing nature of death is modified or tainted by cancer -- organs and living systems are in a frantic trauma, trying not to be 'washed out'. By the end of the film, the image has shifted to the blue screen. The gentle layers of blues and greens suggests a comfortable and smooth, despite rigid, aspect of death. It is a space in which the dirty whiteness should not pierce. Yet, this vision is too idyllic in Brakhage's mind, and thus he allows the blueness to bleed from the side of the frame, opening the 'blinds' to the cancerous light. -- Andre Munoz, 1997

Rental: $30.00
16mm Rental: $30.00

back to homepage