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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #120


Second #5640, 94:00

The space behind Detective Williams — his accusatory gaze upon Sandy moments after Jeffrey has left — is unexplored in the film. He stands with his back to the darkness, his hand against the wall. There is the possibility of a fist.

In a 2003 interview, filmmaker Chris Marker said that

DVD technology is obviously superb, but it isn’t always cinema. Godard nailed it once and for all: at the cinema, you raise your eyes to the screen; in front of the television, you lower them. Then there is the role of the shutter. Out of the two hours you spend in a movie theater, you spend one of them in the dark. It’s this nocturnal portion that stays with us, that fixes our memory of a film in a different way than the same film seen on television or on a monitor.

Those small spaces between film frames persist as some sort of excess or remainder. They are what is left over, and indeed their darkness remains with us even though we don’t know it. Digital cinema has its own remainders, as well, its own lost spaces in the slivers of time between its 0’s and 1’s. At some point in the not-so-distant future, Blue Velvet will cease to exist in 35mm analog format, except as a specimen copy in an archive. As a film like Blue Velvet persists and evolves across mediums and formats—acetate, VHS, DVD, and stored in a perpetual holding pattern somewhere in the cloud—it leaves behind traces of itself. But it also accumulates small details of its new technological embodiment becoming, as Marshall McLuhan might have said, a conveyor of meaning about its medium.

At second #5640, Detective Williams is framed within the frame in a reversal of the image in the previous post, where the blank wall space occupied the space in the right hand portion of the screen. And by cutting back and forth between Jeffrey and her father during this scene, it becomes clear how they occupy opposing spaces on the screen, not just across from each other, but literally different sides of the screen. And yet they are both linked, fascinated and terrified by what Sandy describes as this “strange world.”

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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