Robert Storr – Confines – IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, 2009

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Buster Keaton
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The running, jumping & standing still

World enough and time. The earth spins. The clock spins.

If video art where said to have a time signature as music does, what then would be the tempo of the collective ZimmerFrei’s Panorama (Rome)?
The overall interval of its whirling three hundred and sixty degree views of Piazza del Popolo is clearly diurnal, covering the period from dawn or pre dawn to dusk in a city that may appear to sleep more than Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra’s New York but never sleeps entirely or soundly, and though ancient, never has at any time in its long history.
So image that we are looking at a contemporary cityscape by Canaletto, though he preferred Venice, and animate his figures in the mind’s eye while adding to the equation the cinematic devices of close-up -although ZimmerFrei never zooms in on anything, the sweep of the camera has that effect when it reaches a figure near at hand-stop action, fast forward and slow motion. The results is kind of spatial and temporal polyphony, in which a person or persons in the middle ground will suddenly assume absurde herky-jerky modern dance -like poses while someone in the foreground appears frozen in a more naturalistic stance sitting and reading, standing and looking out-or will engage in a more or less comprehensible action, that nonetheless makes the passage of time explicit, as when a woman crawls, around the fountain on which the whole video pivots like the minute hand of giant clock face-even as the background pedestraian and cars at a hectic pace.
Of course the ability to choreograph these multiple time-keepers is made possible by modern and digital technology and the editing liberties that it affords, but the visual paradigms are provided by film, specifically the comic accelerations typical of the early one reel comedies of Mack Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Llyod, and Richard Lester and Peter Sellers’s great 1959 homage to these wizards of the silent film era, The running, jumping & standing still film (1960), which squeezed into a scant eleven minutes all of the sight gags Lesters, Sellers and their collaborator Spike Milligan could conceive of in advance or spontaneously toss off. Although Panorama_Rome runs twelve minutes, it is on the whole, more leisurely than manic. Still its idiom is essentially the same and it plays gentle havoc with chronometers in a complementary fashion that drives home the basic lesson of moder phisics that time is relative, in other words what you make of it.