Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black Box: Ali Kazma

Where: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

When: through April 30, 2012

Anyone who's read this blog for any period of time knows my views on the Hirshhorn, so I won't repeat them here.  If you're new, just search for any other blog post about a show at the Hirshhorn, and you'll get the picture quickly.

One of the things I really like at the concrete doughnut is their "Black Box" series of films.  You have to go in expecting weird cinema, because it's not as if you're going to get plot or character development or witty dialogue here, but that's alright, I love these things anyway.  "Floating McDonald's" remains my favorite, but this film by Ali Kazma called "O.K. 2010" does not disappoint.

It's seven screens of a person (I'm assuming it's the same person shot from different angles, but it could be several people) stamping a pile of documents.  Over and over, they stamp page after page at breakneck speed.  The museum's commentary suggests that perhaps the stamping was done much more slowly and the film merely sped up to suggest lightning-quick reflexes, but I'm not so sure.  I once took a tour of the Government Printing Office (is my life one long series of thrilling moments or what?) and saw people checking pages numbers on books at about this pace, so anything's possible.

One discordant note I found was that the person is dressed in a suit and tie - surely that's a bit overdressed for a job stamping documents?  It occurred to me that watching this would be an efficiency expert's dream - how should the person position the stack of paper to minimize discomfort; where should the stamp inker be put to ease re-inking the stamp?  One of the less exciting aspects of my job is that I have to file books called loose-leafs.  They are basically binders with loose pages in them - new pages go in, old pages go out.  I was able to watch someone do a job more onerous than that, so I'll view it with less repugnance the next time I set at it.

Verdict: "Black Box" videos are always worth a look - this is no exception. 

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