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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #36

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Second #1692, 28:12

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Blue Lady. Miss Dorothy Vallens.” And so Dorothy is introduced by the Master of Ceremonies, played by Jean-Pierre Viale, in what appears to be his only movie role. As one hand touches the vintage suspension-mount microphone, and one hand beckons Dorothy, the frame captures the tipping point of the film, as darkness is about to spill into Sandy’s and Jeffrey’s world as Dorothy takes the stage. Those curtains, otherworldly in the way they echo the blue velvet curtains from the film’s opening credits, signify a range of electrified meanings, none of them happy.

In Brian Evenson’s novel The Open Curtain, a character known as Rudd begins to lose his grip on reality, even as he gains access to a different order of reality:

The whole of his life began to resemble a hallucination, dark and folded inward as if assembled from his mind. There was a falsity to it, as if he were acting, and often he found himself having to hold himself back from laughter because everything seemed contrived. All that really mattered were the blotted hours, but they were the only things he had no access to.

In Blue Velvet, at this moment, Jeffrey, Sandy, and Dorothy will assemble together in a red room softly lit by blue light, each of them desiring something from each other, and each of them disguising that desire as mere curiosity. Everything in this frame—the MC’s hand, the open mouth of the piano, the faces of the drummer and the upright bass player—creates a visual current that flows from screen right to screen left, against the grain of the text and image logic of the West. We are forced to read the frame in the wrong direction. In a few moments, the Blue Lady will fill the gap, and become the center of gravity, and the unprepared will most certainly tumble into her collapsing star.

Over the period of one full year — three days per week — The Blue Velvet Project will seize a frame every 47 seconds of David Lynch’s classic to explore. These posts will run until second 7,200 in August 2012. For a complete archive of the project, click here. And here is the introduction to the project.

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