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What the Water Said Nos 1-3

Rental Format(s): 16mm film

The result of a series of camera-less collaborations between the filmmaker, the Atlantic Ocean, and a crab trap. For three days in January and three days in October of 1997, and again, for a day, in August of 1998, lengths of unexposed, undeveloped film were soaked in a crab cage on a South Carolina beach. Both the sound and image are the result of the ensuing oceanic inscriptions written directly into the emulsion of the film as it was buffeted by the salt water, sand, rocks and shells. The film was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art's "The American Century, Part II: The Cool World."

"Bypassing half of the usual mechanical needs of filmmaking, Gatten instead uses nature as his recording device. The film is, indeed, about process, but also about nature as both subject and author ... the process yields a stunning range of results: at times quiet and lyrical, at others the scratching is so dense that it leaves a nearly white screen and a loud roar, evoking the waves crashing on shore. ... The overall feel is amazingly organic and seems to defy the random action of the ocean's weathering - it seems structured, following a predetermined pattern: one almost senses an underwater intelligence in its formation." - Patrick Friel, Curator, Chicago Filmmakers

David Gatten's philosophical approach to film has made him one of the few recent artists to introduce truly new ideas into the medium. His WHAT THE WATER SAID, NOS. 1-3 derives both sound and image from the action of the ocean on lengths of unexposed film submerged in a crab trap at different times of year. The chemical action of the seawater, and the nicks and scratches made in the emulsion by the action of the waves, determine what is seen and heard in the finished film, making this one of the few truly aleatoric films. - Chris Gehman, Cinemascope

Rental Fees

16mm film $125.00  

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