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Aptly titled, Drift is a surreal slideshow put together by Singer, with observational poetry and corrosive, distorted guitar provided by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo. It wanders disoriented through the city like an amnesiac made dizzy by a head wound of some kind. Armed with racks of still images, Singer works the twin movie screens like a DJ, going beyond mere exhibition-style presentation to make performance art. Not content to simply hang her pieces on a wall and walk away, leaving interpretation to the masses, Singer arranges photos on the fly to create movement and flow through worlds of innocence and moral decay. Sometimes Singer shows polar-opposite images for contrast, bombarding your constantly shifting eye with images of S&M porn, seedy nightclubs and x-ray hands. Sometimes the themes in both are the same, though the view is different, offering another perspective.
Singer is full of surprises and coy about revealing what statement she's trying to make. Perhaps there is none, the disconnected narrative Singer pieces together simply capturing the disjointed nature of modern living. There are daylight shots of junked cars colored red, white and blue and left to rot in grassy fields. They feel pastoral and polluted at the same time. Drift can be celebratory and as fleeting as memories. Quick editing cuts of photos of wheeling fireworks and colored smoke make it seem like the Fourth of July, and there are ticker tape parades for unknown heroes. In an instant, the good times are gone, replaced by the eerie serenity and dead calm of a city in repose and Ranaldo's thoughtful, poignant meditations on 9/11, telling of a newspaper dated Sept. 11 that was found weeks after the attack and a pile of shoes standing as a silent monument to the fallen. The aftermath is hallucinatory and scary, with a child's doll moving haltingly back and forth as Ranaldo emits cold, tunneling, industrial drone escape from his damaged amps, prying open a gaping chasm of sound with oceanic depth.
This is where Ranaldo shines. This is nightmarish, rusted mood music that swells and disintegrates, like empires. Unfortunately, this isn't much of a stretch for Ranaldo. It's a part he's played before and though his doomed soundtrack is an appropriately dark mind-fuck, it's not much different from what he does in his day job with Thurston Moore and company. Lyrically, he offers a hodge-podge of insightful commentary and hackneyed philosophy like, "You can kill the future, you can kill the past/But you can't crawl out of your sweaty shoes and walk away." Still, when talks about how "Tribeca used to look" and how he'd hoped they leave a "cavity" where the Twin Towers stood, it gives you chills.
A mind-altering DVD experience that includes a 112-page book packed with Singer's photographs, poetry, essays by avant-garde notables like experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas and artists Sam Durant and Tom Lesser, and interviews with Ranaldo and Singer, Drift is a mesmerizing, bewildering work. Incredibly, the ever-evolving Drift - undoubtedly updated over the years - has been around since 1991, with Singer and Ranaldo performing it live in art spaces, concert halls, museums and other places rednecks fear to tread. Between November 4th and January 15th, Drift was presented as an installation at New York City's Gigantic Art Space that incorporated conceptual lightboxes, drawings, and prints related to Drift, along with video projection of the film. Since then, here in 2006, it's all been packed up and taken out on tour to parts all over the globe.
Complex without being overly complicated, Drift has all the weirdness and dream world-vs.-reality feel of a Fellini movie, but it's not nearly as cartoon-ish. It's way too serious for that. Lengthy and sometimes overly arty, Drift nevertheless takes you on a fascinating trip to the dark corners of your own imagination and plays with your psyche like a cat pawing at a dead mouse. It's not for those under a psychiatrist's care. SEE ALSO: www.plexifilm.com
SEE ALSO: www.giganticartspace.com
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he'll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.
See other articles by Peter Lindblad.
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