Collection / Works / Airport Noise by Mike Dunford

SD video, UK, 1983
34 minutes 18 seconds Colour, 4:3, sound
Available formats: Digibeta tape, DVD, SD Digital file

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In 1983 I was working in San Francisco as a housepainter and much of the time we worked in Burlingame, south of the city. This tape is a meditation on that suburban world, with the actor, me, moodily, incoherently expressing his alienation from the society he inhabits.

A walking tracking shot down a suburban street on the edge of the airport, leads to the actor who is waxing his car. The scene is set with a series of shots of the waxing, a neighboring child, and the wax. The radio is playing.

The scene is repeated with the actor giving instructions for the sequence before shooting.

Repeated pans, repeated sequences of a neighbor watering a lawn, the street furniture and the cars, gives way suddenly to the actor, mostly drowned by passing jets and traffic, or cut off mid –word, speaking his politics and unhappiness. Or is he? Is he acting or is he real? And to what extent is this an idealised filmic construction to illustrate a cultural trope? We never find out.

The tape continues as an ironic illustration of the suburban ideal as the actor waxes and re-waxes, 50’s pop plays. Time becomes endlessly repeated, events happen again and again. The actor, an alien from another land, refers to life as a movie, a movie about that life.

Or does he? These questions are subtitled on the tape. Total self -doubt threatens the whole project and undermines it. Life continues. Sometimes reality seems to be scripted.