N-Zone (Arthur Lipsett, 1970)

45 min

Arthur Lipsett pieces together his visions of this fragmented world from odds and ends, even leftovers, from other people’s photography and sound recording. By juxtaposing his snippets of “found film” with snatches of comment or dialogue echoing the banality of human communication, Lipsett shows the emptiness of much of what we say or do. N-Zone is one man’s surrealist sampler of the human condition.

Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) music by Teiji Itō added 1952

Much like Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête , which came three years after this short, this piece pivoted on the repetition of certain objects. Through the rondo-like succession of imagery, these objects are instilled with emotional significance.

The cinematography by Deren’s Czech husband Alexander Hammid is skillful and effectively disorienting. It is all the more impressive when the limited budget the pair was working on is taken into account. His focus and composition were excellent, and his perspective was obviously sensitive to Deren’s vision.

9 years after the filming, Teiji Itō produced a minimal score for the piece at the age of 17.  Through the use of semitones between what sounds like a human voice humming and a bowed bass note, the pressure of the unresolved diminished unison adds great tension to the short.  The semitones paired with the staccato percussion speaks as much of Itō’s sensitivity to Deren’s vision as the cinematography spoke of Hammid’s.  It is no wonder that Deren and Itō were later married.

Side note: Looks like Kate Bush much?