Monday, January 28, 2013

Video: Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson - "Swamp"

"Swamp" is a brief film created in 1971 by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson. In the film, Holt wanders through a swamp, only able to view where she is going through the lens of her camera, and attempting to follow the verbal directions of Smithson.

In Holt's words, the film "deals with the limitations of perception through the camera eye as Bob and I struggle through a muddy New Jersey swamp. Verbal directions cannot easily be followed as the reeds crash against the lens, blocking vision and forming continuously shifting patterns. Confusion ensues."

According to Smithson, "it's about deliberate obstructions or calculated aimlessness."

To me, there is also an element of the confusion involved in humanity's interactions with nature. Smithson says to go forward, and advance in a straight line, invoking a Hegelian notion of progress and civilization (there are no straight lines in nature). This attempt at progress and geometry is continually thwarted by the uneven nature of the terrain, creating a unique and amusing tension.

What do you think the film is about? Is it about anything?

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