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Someone Said

An installation of Moving and Still Images by Robert Mack.

 

                         Es bello porque nos agrada, o es que nos agrada

                         porque es bello?

                         (Is it beautiful because it pleases us, or does it

                         please us because it is beautiful?)

                         —José María Sánchez de Muniaín Gil

 

The most immediate tension of Someone Said is that of appearance and gender, that of an idealized beauty of a female figure, and that of a male figure distorted by a physical deformity. By opening on the male figure in repose, before the frame widens to encompass the female figure, the camera imposes the subtle probability that we share, at first, the point of view of the male figure in a dream state at odds with his distorted appearance, since the dream state evokes a departure from reality that the distortion establishes in the plane of reality of the dreamer itself.

 

Thus we have the implicit point of view of a man whose deformity which, conventionally we would associate not with reality but with the distortions of a dream state; but who nevertheless is established by the camera as real and the dreamer of a woman in radical tension with his distortion, by virtue of her idealized beauty, here presented most potentially as the illusory embodiment of his dream.

 

But gradually, the slight movement of the camera toward the woman poses a narrative shift that allows us to imagine that the dreamer is really the woman, who aspires to the disillusioned vision of the man.  As the camera returns to encompass both figures, there remains an oscillating movement of possibility as to which figure is the dreamer and which figure is dreamed. And the transparent gauze that shrouds each figure further evokes a dream state by interposing a layer, as it were, between the figures and their naked reality, and further by distorting light and shadow.

 

Mediated by the layers of transparent fabric and light as if to impose doubt as to whether one or more of the figures is real, dreamed, or imagined and if so, by whom; the kiss evokes a poignant tension between unity and separation that it is not primarily literal. Instead, the sort of potential unity and separation the image evokes is virtual. It can only be so because of the inevitable question of whether the figures occupy any mutual reality that transcends dream. The unitive aspiration of the kiss therefore, is obstructed by the mediation of the fabric and its shadows.

 

“Freed” by his deformity from the overt trappings of beauty, the male figure can only aspire to the transcendent beauty of contemplation. And the female figure is the symbol this transcendent beauty if she is an illusion dreamed. To the degree that female figure has an independent reality as dreamer, ironically, she would aspire to the transcendence that such deformity can foreshadow.

                                                                                                                                                                                   —Drew Hammond