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Serene Trajectory
by Evan Sforza `

Serene Trajectory

Serene Velocity is a shining example of film in William Uricchio's sense, an apparatus that "facilitates a new experience of time, space, and event," and, as I would argue, more, as the film also seems to bring attention and awareness to our-selves. This short film by Ernie Gehr is, fundamentally, a collection of only a few keyframes that, to the viewer, visually oscillate. The frames are shots from various depths within a hallway, a hallway describable only by it's stark, almost medical, facade, colored with an almost contradictory yellow putrescence, and a glowing exit sign.

The film plays off of our our basic biology of perception, coaxing our brain into believing that we posses a speed and a direction, and, what's interesting about our biological response is that our 'movement' is near universally perceived as forward; even trying to perceive the oscillatory images as backwards is difficult, but what does this mean? An obvious interpretation would be the notion of 'progress,' strengthened by Gehr's choice to use a hallway containing an 'Exit' sign. The glowing icon is present in every frame - a continual reminder suggestive of an end to our means. The sign even undergoes a change: beginning a few meters down the hall and eventually appearing close to overhead, but we wouldn't allow ourselves to believe it to be one passing above from our rear.

What's most interesting about our sense of egress is the artificiality of its cues: the choppy and procedurally machine like nature of the use of the medium and the definitely manmade and electronic symbol for "way out." Within the film, these have the ability to draw attention to ourselves, and not just ourselves who are seated in front of the screen, but ourselves as a species - to the way we find our-selves be-ing in the space we've labeled Earth. There is no "Exit" - there is no "Goal," and any sense we have of one is an absolute fabrication. We create our own signs - our own glowing icons that indicate when we're headed in the right, or wrong, or any direction.

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Serene Velocity by Ernie Gehr (1970) A clip from Ernie Gehr's 1970 film "Serene Velocity".