( I have been working a mindless 9-5 job for the past 8 months and this is one of the few excuses I’ve had to exert fancy, big words… so apologies for any over/mis-uses…)
Maybe it is the bitter wave of cold hitting New York, or simply my grandmotherly nature… but I seem to be watching movies on my couch more often than venturing out in search of fine Contemporary Art experiences lately.
“Bubble” was released in 2006. It is a median-length (1:13min.), digitally-shot film directed by Steven Soderbergh.
The endeavor branded as a “sight-specific film”, resonated with many of the inquiries that pervade the broad dichotomy of “fact vs. fiction”-a theme pervading my own work whether through the lens of cinema, daily life or history. While articulating these concepts can be cofounding, I found them hauntingly embodied in “Bubble”.
The location of the film, a small town in Ohio centralized around a doll-factory, is the premise of Soderbergh’s experiment. The narrative and its characters are built directly from the given environment and all the roles are filled by non-professional actors living and working in the depicted area. Their performances are thoroughly entangled in a seemingly all-encompassing dialogue between their inherent qualities and the character that they incarnate. While the use of non-professional actors isn’t particularly novel, it is the fact that those people are intrinsically linked to the geographical setting/narrative foundation (even their homes and children were used), that delivers an overall uncanny quality.
Soderbergh’s cinematography itself plays with the fictionalization of its subject. A surreal and stunning quality emanates from his steady shots of factories, lunch rooms and mundane utterances. Eggleston and Goldin appear as direct influences… or perhaps it is their common focus on the imaginative powers of commonplace and their recognition of the camera’s power to memorialize it, that brings them to mind.
The idea/denomination of a “sight-specific” film has great potential in inducing new methods of filmmaking/storytelling. The audience is still removed from the actual location (vs. “sight-specific art” where the viewer is in direct presence not only of the artwork but the location from which it stems-in a way he is, if temporarily, part of it), but the muddling of narrative film parameters and geographical, social and individual specificities is compelling in itself…
OK… I think that is all the space I will monopolize with my pseudo-academic babbling… It just helped to put some (jumbled) thoughts into (semi-legible) paragraphs… and hopefully you can fill the gaps with the film itself.