The camera pulls back from buttery billowing clouds to show that they are smoke from a modern factory, in front of which a car passes. The TVs show a pumping oil well, viewed through a ripply haze of fire and smoke. In late-afternoon sun, the pollution is roseate and pearly.
Scenes of a small farm follow, including a calving cow. The film slows as the tottery calf turns its head to get its first look at its mother.
The video concludes with rodeo scenes as the soundtrack begins a country song about a breakup. The film technique changes to a split screen in which each half of the images is mirrored in the other, producing moving Rorschach blots of bucking broncs and cowhands. Similarly, the song is manipulated so that its various bars are layered over each other in an aural kaleidoscope. The effect is of a blending of the cowboys and animals into one corporate mass. There's also confusion and lack of clarity, in contrast to the solemn, melancholy abandoned and forgotten dwellings.
Mary Lucier: The Plains of Sweet Regret will be on display through Sunday, November 19.
[Review published November 2006]