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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #32

Second #1504, 25:04

The woman in the background carrying groceries has a story to tell. She has her own secrets, in that purse, and for approximately two seconds she becomes a part of Blue Velvet. Perhaps an unremembered part, called forth in the same way that Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho—which slowed down Psycho to two frames per second, stretching the film’s duration to 24 hours—made it possible to see details in a new way. In Point Omega, Don DeLillo captures the dislocating feeling of looking very, very closely at something, brought about by a character watching 24 Hour Psycho:

It takes close attention to see what is happening in front of you. It takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at. He was mesmerized by this, the depths that were possible in the slowing of motion, the things to see, the depths of seeing so easy to miss in the shallow habit of seeing. . . . He began to think of one thing’s relationship to another. This film had the same relationship to the original movie that the original movie had to real lived experience. This was the departure from the departure. The original movie was fiction, this was real.

So: as Jeffrey and Sandy load the bug-spraying rig into the car, with the most important object—the key to Dorothy’s apartment that Jeffrey has taken—hidden from view, the anonymous woman passes by, further reinforcing the idea that all in the world is not as it seems, and that normalcy is an illusion, an illusion we all need, but an illusion nonetheless. Of all the furious currents that run through Blue Velvet, this is one: the eerie familiarity of images that seem so homegrown that they appear alien and unfamiliar. The unfolding distance between us and Jeffrey and Sandy, and the deeper distance between us and the unidentified woman. The thrilling, terrifying feeling that you are in on the secret.

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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