January 9-12, 5:30pm
333 West 23rd Street, New York
“It’s white. Nothing is happening… Still nothing is happening…” a high, breathy voice begins to whisper through frequent “ums” and pauses into a black funnel pressed against my ear. This is how Britt Hatzius’ brilliant performance piece, Blind Cinema begins.
The experience which has participants blindfolded in the seats of a cinema while school children sit behind and describe the film projected on the theatre’s screen, forces it’s audience to face the limits of description and utilize instead the tools of imagination and assumption. One translates what they hear from their young companion into an image entirely apart from both the reality of the film or that of the child’s perception bringing to mind the subjectivity of experience and our inability to articulate motives and meanings that seem so simple to infer first hand.
While the film is short the descriptions quickly breakdown with the children struggling to keep up with the film, feeding off the reactions of their audience, or speaking in their own short hand for what they see. The image in your mind’s eye begins to rapidly shift between aesthetics and genres. There were times I imagined the film as a horror picture, a cartoon, or something textured and stop motion, but I’ll never know.
I will never see the film but from the boy’s description I can assume that it was surreal, whimsical, and “weird,” as the boy editorialized also adding, “What do I know? I’m in fifth grade.”
Image by Britt Hatzius.