A Month of Single Frames
By Rouven Linnarz
Saturday, March 27 2021
Rough Translation from German
Not only in art, but also in the life of every person, the encounter with an ego that has been left behind for a long time or at least is convinced that you have done so is a very instructive and exciting experience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about reading a diary or leafing through a photo album, but above all about the question of who you meet and what connects you with them. Especially within art, the time factor is an important aspect, as it defines the artist’s relationship to the work and, moreover, the viewer to it. Something similar happens when dealing with this earlier self, this “old” version of a person who may seem very likable, naive or even completely alien.
Perhaps this idea also forms the basis for a project like A Month of Single Frames , a collaboration between the two filmmakers Lynne Sachs and Barbara Hammer. In 1998 Hammer was allowed to retreat to a dune hut for a few months on Cape Cod, a peninsula that belongs to the US state of Massachusetts, with the support of a non-profit organization. There was neither running water nor electricity there and Hammer used the time to film nature, to try out various film techniques, she kept a journal and a diary. Twenty years later, Hammer handed over the documents as well as the recordings to Lynne Sachs, who not only viewed them with her, but also combined the dialogue about the images, impressions and reports into a short film.
Dialogue with the world, a dialogue with people
As Hammer mentioned at one point in A Month of Single Frames , the stay in the dune hut is in a way similar to the studies of Henry David Thoreau , whose work Walden reflects the experience of the author, who spent a long time in a log cabin deep in the Massachusetts woods. On the one hand, the short film is a study of the encounter with nature, which Hammer approaches through writing and filming. A sunrise or the wind over the dunes is captured using various color filters, slowed down or sometimes alienated, sometimes even changed, when Hammer describes how she hung small, colorful paper flags in the grass. Trying out, which at the same time is also an approach to this environment, is repeatedly interrupted by a certain skepticism, a question about why it even requires a trick to approach nature.
A similar hesitation can be seen in the subsequent viewing and editing of the film material and the recordings. Hammer’s commentary, as well as the overlaid texts, seem to want to enter into a dialogue with the other self, with the world of even with the viewer itself. The ambivalence of the images, their fascination and the foreign make up the attraction of this project for the viewer, testify to finding a way of seeing the world and oneself, trying to overcome the temporal distance and to fathom the memory after so many years.
A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES
“A Month of Single Frames” is a short film about memory, time and dealing with the younger self. Lynne Sachs and Barbara Hammer succeed in creating an honest picture of the artist as well as of people who are looking for a view of themselves, their history and their surroundings. This leads to a very philosophical, beautiful and very thoughtful film.