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The Blue Velvet Project, #65

Second #3055, 50:55

“I’m leaving now,” says Jeffrey. Dorothy, her back to the camera, stands in the bathroom, facing the mirror, her red shoes on the tiled floor beside her. Another radiator, like an iron spy from another world. The screen, divided against itself. Crowded by darkness, Dorothy’s space is a like a music track awaiting the vocals. The open toilet some sort of joke. A zombie film: Dorothy dead and not knowing she is dead, hungry for Jeffrey’s flesh, or the way hallways always lead to bad ends. In a room across the city, her son held hostage. The fullness of despair, in ripe bloom, and you wonder: what if Blue Velvet is the most restrained document of evil ever put across the screen? A completely pressured-down version of the chaos of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), founded in 1978 by Mark Pauline, which created, staged, and filmed the dark subterranean passageways of the great American subconscious, in a way that Hollywood cinema could only hint at:

“All the new thinking is about loss. / In this it resembles all the old thinking,” the poet Robert Hass wrote in 1979, in his poem “Meditation at Lagunitas.” Dorothy’s back to the camera evokes a switch from second to first person, I tell you, because there I am, stranded in hallway somewhere between Jeffrey and Dorothy, in one of the very saddest moments in Blue Velvet. And if you loved this movie, perhaps that was because you only wanted to destroy it, literally. For real, man. To crush it beneath your heel (in the spirit of the SRL video) to wipe out the terrible truths it whispered in your ear, and when you found yourself at the unmarked Alley Bar in Ann Arbor, with an old friend, and the lights cut out suddenly in an electrical storm for just a few seconds and then when they came back on everyone’s face, bathed in red light, had changed slightly, but enough for you to notice. Shit, you said to your friend, look what’s happened! But of course his face had been transformed too (is that why he pretended not to notice, because he was one of them now?) and who knows, maybe even your face too was altered now. You needed a mirror, to see for yourself, to hold it up to the room like some sort of act from the myths and legends of vampire and zombie films, to see if all the faces had changed, had reversed themselves–in those few moments of darkness–into the image of Frank.

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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