‘This quarter I didn’t know what to do for my video production final so I got Jesse Law to help me put together this video as a preview to a book I’m working on called Notes from Work. Honestly, I didn’t know what to think after my first time blasting it on social media, but my professor liked it so much he got everyone to hoist me up on their shoulders and carry me out of class. In any case, I hope this is chill.’
Alexandra Naughton’s video poem of “You Could Never Objectify Me More than I’ve Already Objectified Myself” (from her new book by the same name) moves in the same fascinating space as her moving selfies series.
The video is of liminal spaces visually, sonically, aesthetically, of seeing and of self. The audio at times ghosts in the background like a kind of seepage out of the expected single audio track into a kind of countermelody, something that resonates in another pattern against the main flow of audio and its progressions. This breaks into also a kind of echo, a secondary resonance away and behind.
The sync at times of audio and her recorded image do a kind of slippage, almost linking, almost fully breaking from each other. This even more deeply breaks the expecations of video, of aesthetics, of a pragmatic sync of sound and image be it direct or more open. This feels more like breaking, a battle between expectation and form as well as content. She brilliantly moves toward the dynamic tension of in-between spaces, the liminal. The camera is a giant unblinking eye. Vertov captured this classically in his early films where the Camera and eye seem to merge and image is imperfect, complicated by the camera and its path.
Naughton has the eye also be the gaze, the gaze women must face and the observer is not simply passive any more. It is made impossible. The setting is so personal a space (a small bathroom) and the visuals and sound struggling , almost arguing, intruding on each other, fleeing each other brings the viewer to something deeply personal being seen. Her moving selfies move selfies toward a fascinating middle space between photography and film, personal and shared. This work moves even deeper.
The camera at once glorifies and objectifies much as light can be soft and peaceful or brutal in image be it static or moving as film. In this work the tension of identity on and off line is a squall of aesthetics and undertones. The camera objectifies. The artifact arguably does not. Much of image can come to presentation, expectation, context and deep subjectivity. The selfie is currently seen by some as a new art and to others an erasure, an edited self. The video ends with a cursing of the viewer and listener but this again is much more deeply layered. The title says it’s not that simple, nothing is. The very lipstick of a timeless face at times bleeds, seeps, echoes deeper internal things of image, self image and the ghosts left on film. The poem is powerful but in this mix of media it brings in photography, film, social spheres be it on or offline and the complex slippery universe that is self and image. It is as powerful as it is of a space between things. This is a core of its lingering deep resonance.