This trailer features a 7-minute excerpt from the 6-hour 1970s section of DECADES. This particular clip focuses on demolition, eco-disaster, mechanization, and the elements—in particular, water. The entire section is roughly 47 minutes long and samples non-diegetic sound from films like Deliverance 1972, Jubilee 1977, Roma 1972, The Devil, Probably 1977, The Yakuza 1974, Don’t Look Now 1973, Touki Bouki 1973, Alex in Wonderland 1970, Days of Heaven 1978, Lady Snowblood, 1973, Walkabout 1971, Audrey Rose 1977, The Beguiled 1971, Lancelot du lac 1974, The Last Wave 1977, Harold and Maude 1971, Apocalypse Now 1979, Dersu Uzala 1975, The Elephant God 1979, Stalker 1973, News From Home 1977, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia 1974, and Solaris 1972.
In DECADES—a project that will be released in installments, one decade at a time—one sound leads to and anticipates another. The windmill in Days of Heaven, for example, is a forecast of sound as well as a bridge between sounds. As the windmill twirls and gains traction, it pulls other sounds into its sonic chamber. Rebounding in the cadence of the birds chirping at the beginning of the clip that follows it—Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, which features a beautiful sun-filled Tudor garden. The sky is blue and the garden is under the auspices of seemingly good weather. Yet you can hear thunder roaring throughout. A thunder that will lead to the next series of rainstorm scores set against city, forest, and night-time glass. Windows that look in and look out. In front of glass and behind class. Cutting from inside to outside. Glass is the lens. Glass is the scene. Glass is the obstruction. The final clip, from Harold and Maude, amasses and alchemizes all the avatars of water and glass, as well as all the colors featured in the excerpt.
DECADES proposes that the way we experience cultural shifts is not simply visual or narrative, but tonal. Like LOVE SOUNDS (2015), another durational film which used audio (dialogue) from movies to compose a spoken history of love in English-speaking cinema, DECADES utilizes film scores to produce a score of every decade: a tonal ethnography of time—unearthing each decade’s particular sound patterns and cultural progressions: its themes, politics, anxieties, moods, recurring notes. DECADES asks: What sounds does a decade make? What is each decade’s mood, tone, and theme?
The work of editing is also the practice of criticism. Editing is how you find things, marking the act and place of discovery with a cut. I assemble found footage to think through and listen to the meaning of historical material. In an interview about L’Argent, Robert Bresson stated, “Editing is also the reward of all our efforts.” Nicolas Roeg, who made the great Don’t Look Now, and who rarely made films from scratch, said, “Finding reality is much more exciting than trying to invent it.” For Roeg the images in Don’t Look Now are “part of a puzzle.” For Bresson editing is how you make the puzzle. The sounds I’ve assembled out of the cinema of the 1970s hopefully reveal a puzzle that contains the story of a decade.
Masha Tupitsyn is a writer, critic, and multi-media artist. She is the author of several books like LOVE DOG, LIKE SOONE IN LOVE: AN ADDENDUM TO LOVE DOG, LACONIA: 1,200 TWEETS ON FILM, BEAUTY TALK & MONSTERS, and co-editor of the anthology, LIFE AS WE SHOW IT: WRITING ON FILM. Her fiction and criticism has been published widely in journals and anthologies. In 2015, she completed the film LOVE SOUNDS, a 24-hour audio-essay and history of love in English-speaking cinema. Her new durational film, DECADES, a study of time using film sound, is forthcoming in 2017. She teaches film, literature, and gender studies at The New School and Pratt in New York City. Her Tumblr, is LOVE DOG: mashatupitsyn.tumblr.com.