Swimming in Air

Janice Tanaka

2006 | 00:27:10 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Aging, Asian-American, Autobiography, Body, Health

Recently I found myself rising from a forced landing on the floor after being catapulted into the air by an exercise machine and bouncing off the dresser. Through raccoon eyes, the effect of falling on my face, I squinted into the fog-filled room of my present, stumbling about apprehensively, my long-term memory scrambled and short-term memory severely inhibited. My once reliable body and memory were teetering on the brink of self-betrayal.

After several brain cloud months of recovery I decided to celebrate by skydiving. While the concussion gave me an intimate rather than solely intellectual knowledge of the fragility of life, skydiving was an occasion that inspired a different sort of paradigm shift.

Through the plane window I saw a pilots' halo, an ephemeral rainbow circle with a silhouette of the plane in its center. The one chip video camera used to shoot the jump was unable to capture the image and following the jump I wasn't sure whether I had really seen it or not. The jump, however, was pure exhilaration, a moment that lasts forever and not long enough. And as soon as I began to see the landscape before me with all its intricate and miraculous details I begin to realize I was speeding towards earth and closer to my own demise.

Swimming in Air was inspired by these experiences. It consists of three layers: an outer layer of amorphous imagery replicating the concussion, an inner layer of scripted performances, and a third layer merging the two layers. This mixed genre--part documentary, part narrative, part abstract prose experimental program--uses humor, wit, and hopefully insight to reflect on the process of aging.

Specific film and video formats were chosen for their visual textures" used in creating each segment's distinct visual expression and to weave them into a buoyant journey through time." --Janice Tanaka 

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