Shelly Silver

1990 | 00:04:00 | United States | English | B&W and Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

In a visually difficult construction, Silver plays with the viewer’s ability to focus and take in an entire image. This puzzling tape is composed of three basic elements: a scrolling text, an image of street traffic that occupies one half of the split screen, and on the other side the image of a man masturbating, focusing on the hand and penis. The viewer’s attention is suspended between these two disparate images, unable to make sense of their correlation. This confusion demonstrates the meaning of the text that reads, “If we keep attaching meanings to everything we perceive ... we are bound to go crazy someday.”

"Even as the text instructs us otherwise, it is impossible not to read We's two images - that is, to respond to their symbolic quality, their suggestiveness. In a stream of associations, the rhythmic flow of people on the left becomes an ejaculation while the rhythmic hand on the right marks detachment, self-centeredness. Simultaneously, we may say to ourselves, 'Yes, it is only a crowd of anonymous people. It is only a penis.' But even as we attempt to discipline our interpretative urges, the hermeneutic created by this simple juxtaposition is driving us crazy with questions: Who is he? Why is he alone? Does he have a lover? Does everyone in this crowd masturbate? Do they seek isolation from the mass? Are they aware of one another? Are they relational in less-populated situations? Why was this private image made public? Why is this image private?" -Chris Straayer, Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies, Sexual Orientation in Film and Video (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996)

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