This entry was posted on August 8th, 2017

Lessons in Semaphore (Cauleen Smith, 2016)

By José Sarmiento-Hinojosa

Saint Bathans Repetitions is one of the most impressive works  in the competition of Media City Film Festival. This “manipulation of time and space” by Canadian artist Alexander Larose, might just open a new way of interpreting the cinematic portrait, or the narrative possibilities of expanded cinema. Composed of three “studies” and an interlude, Larose film portrays Jacques Larose among Saint Bathans gold mining town, in different places of a small cabin. Juxtaposing layer after layer of film, the Canadian filmmaker makes undetectable transitions, as if space seems to evolve in itself constantly, melting and rearranging its atoms for the next layer. Then comes the movement, an expansion of space-time where Larose plays the role of a contemporary zoopraxographer, a modern Muybridge investigating this expansion of repetition where his subject multiplies his presence over and over.

This technical feature in black and white, color and sepia transcends the mechanical feats which in themselves are remarkable. The narrative of space-time, allows for a different perception of the experimental narrative, where the displacement of space is fundamental for recreating this “time of concentration” where the shifts and the placement of the image are something that one is completely aware of. In some way, Larose’s work teaches how to watch again.

Cauleen Smith’s Lessons in Semaphore is a intimate short film on communication and interpretation inside a black community in Chicago. Dancer Taisha Pagget performs with semaphore flags to establish some kind of link with a younger boy, who in turn responds with his own mimic movements. This performance serves as a manifestation of freedom, of a boundary-free life, a communication of possibilities for the younger generation among the stage of a vacant lot, which could be seen as an oxymoron, but is a manifesto of sorts: the assertiveness of a declaration of freedom among a stark atmosphere, which is the terrain in which emancipation of the body and soul happens.

Saint Bathans Repetitions
Artist: Alexandre Larose
Country: Canada
Format: 16mm
Duration: 20 min
Year: 2016

Lessons in Semaphore
Artist: Cauleen Smith
Country: USA
Format: 16mm > digital
Duration: 16 min
Year: 2016