A cheese dream of strangeness is one way to describe this brief experimental piece from 2016 by the Los Angeles artist and collagist Jennifer West, who scratches, distresses and generally scrunches up celluloid film stock and then makes digital files of the results.
In Film Title Poem, she has taken analogue footage of film title cards (evidently from DVDs or YouTube, as the progress bar is often to be seen alongside the bottom of the screen), and done so in semi-darkness, with these images weirdly and incompletely picked out with a torch, as if being discovered by a burglar. The point of this darkness is presumably so that all the vivid shapes and lines and doodles that have then been scratched on to the physical surface of the film will show up white more clearly.
It is the kind of piece that is probably best shown in an art gallery, where its exploratory and conceptual nature will be most sympathetically received. And what is the point? Perhaps it is to reflect on the nature of memory, or cinephilia, but not in any reverent or celebratory way – rather to brood on the jumble of disposability. Film titles are there in our memory, dumped as if in some dark store room or lockup garage, which we can pick out with a torch, if we wish to.
In many ways, the most interesting thing about this is the physical scratching itself, which dances and leaps out of the screen, almost as if burning the surface of the film.
• Film Title Poem is available on Mubi from 9 July.
Source: The Guardian