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Seated Figures

Michael Snow

Canada, 1989
40 minutes, colour, sound
Available formats: 16mm

A new film by Snow is always an event. Seated Figures explores the ground zero of motion pictures. A landscape from the perspective of an exhaust pipe! … Although hypnotic, the movement is not continuous, the vehicle used stops, reverses directions, then accelerates, often producing a diagonally striated forcefield . Snow is deceptively artless, a master of the visual deadpan. While trafficking in geological abstraction, he arrests the films frantic motion, freezing some blurry onrush or a frame of flowing water. A soundtrack of coughs, yawns and a humming projector creates a further displacement. The images are distanced accompanied by the muffled noises of an audience watching a movie. Hence the mysteriously inert title Seated Figures is about its audience. Not only are we sent flying face down over the earth, but Snow reverses the oldest concept in image making — he juxtaposes our seated static figures against a constantly moving ground.–J.Hoberman, Village Voice.