Thursday, September 18, 2008

when sleeping beauties multiply in norwich...







an early theatrical montage of actors from the play, the sleeping beauty, by h. goss and w.j. gaze, presented in norwich england circa 1900. the photograph has a beautiful silver sheen to the borders, suggesting the chemical process is still not totally stable. the interesting thing about the image is that it is as if every scene of the play is being performed simultaneously - like a footrace, everything starting at the same moment, with the shorter scenes slowly stopping first, and the few actors in the longest scene remaining animated until the end. there is something uncanny about seeing the same people in various positions on the same stage at the same time, as if they have multiplied, to build an acting troupe of a variety of themselves. the image disrupts a theatrical notion of time, destroying a traditional trajectory of narrative. within a single glance, one can glean every facet of the entire story; and there is something strange and wonderful to see both the beginning and end at the same time - as well as all that has happened in between. once one begins to scan the entire surface of the photograph, with little knowledge of the intended storyline, there is a kind of permission given, to move from image to image in an intuitive way, to feel the potential of building a variety of new narratives, like cutting this picture into pieces, and pulling them out of a hat, creating a number of entirely new stories from the same parts in different combinations, ordered by chance.

one example, spiraling out from the center:

the devil asks the beauty for her heart, and she curiously instead shows him her dress, a man warns her, and she finds herself embracing yet another man, a woman in black tells her of some foreboding, and a woman in white welcomes her with some secret to tell, a field of women all tell the beauty different sides to the same story, until the beauty gives her heart to the nearest kneeling man, he fights with three men in hats who try to steal her away from him, until she is taken by two men with large staffs, hearing about her difficulties people are sad, while she hides herself dressed as a man, the king and queen are beside themselves until the beauty is lost in a series of couplings, when finally she meets again the first man, who this time begs her to be with him, while above them, the three large floating heads of the gods with lonely eyes, who have brought this whole story to life, think quietly amongst themselves...

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Blogger ArtSparker said...

See the Marisa Monte song Enquanto Isso.

The floating heads remind me of the journeying moon in the sidenotes of the ancient mariner.

7:18 PM  

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