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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #5

Second #235

What is this? Where are we? In a weird, dreamlike echo of the Amity Island billboard (defaced with the black shark fin) from Jaws, the Welcome to Lumberton billboard is a nest of contradictions. Instead of a shark fin, there should be a monster lurking in the background pine trees. The woman looks to be freeze-dried straight out of the Cold War, and brings to mind Shelley Winters as Charlotte Haze in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962). Could the awkward wave of her hand be any more artificial or uninviting? For a moment, we seem to have gone back in time, a feeling that will be echoed in small ways throughout the film. “Logs, logs, logs!” goes the WOOD radio station jingle blaring—at first it seems—from the public emergency sirens on either side of the frame. (The small word at the bottom of the billboard is NAEGELE, which refers to the Naegele Outdoor Advertising Company.) “Lumberton is a real name; there are many Lumbertons in America,” Lynch has said, and this Lumberton is a simulacrum of a simulacrum: the blue sky and green trees in the billboard are framed by the blue sky and green trees of the “real” Lumberton (Wilmington, North Carolina). The shot—coming immediately after the extreme close-up of the beetles—feels like both a relief and an omen: not everything (in fact perhaps nothing, except maybe for Sandy) is what it seems.

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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