b&w, 7:11 minutes, sound
Like an experiment in an underwater dream laboratory, the monitor image of Sturgeon's submerged face looks out; while as investigator, he stops and starts the underwater sequence, measuring the air bubbles surfacing. The surface of the monitor and of the water acts as a boundary linking measured reality with the submerged unconscious. As the head reverses, processes become more illusive yet retain a subjective structure. Suddenly the tension erupts in a staccato oration from a wildly beckoning bearded figure, before Sturgeon breaks communication by surfacing.
"Sturgeon emphasizes the dream process by concentrating on a magical manipulation of events - the work has a formal structure but we are not able to comprehend the chain of events that link the association of ideas. (waterpiece) expresses a concern for the emergence of subject matter with an internal form that is responsive to the characteristics of the video medium and, in this way, it serves as a paradigm for aspects of Sturgeon's subsequent involvements."
Peter Goulds, L.A. Louver Gallery
Date Completed: December 1974, Venice, California
Artist / Performer: John Sturgeon
Camera, Sound & Edit: John Sturgeon
Dream that influenced the script for (waterpiece).
Dream: October 29, 1974
Abraham Lincoln (or rather as I discover, an actor playing the part of Abe) is delivering a passionate speech to a crowd. There is a group on the podium with him (the two intimates standing next to him are unknown to me). Perhaps its a stage set, made to look like a Roman Forum and constructed with wood scaffolding.
At the conclusion of the speech, Abe takes out a pocketknife and cuts off the end of his chin – or, the tip of his beard. As he does so, it becomes enlarged and strawberry shaped, very full and juicy and red. As he completes the act of cutting it off, his chin or beard tip, oozes a thick gelatinous juice. He gestures in exaggerated ways implying that this act is his - gift - this performance - for the crowd.
My immediate thoughts (notations) refer to a possible Jungian interpretation – that the Abe Lincoln figure, or the man with the pointed beard, represents the intellect. And further, that as an actor, there is the element of a sham to his action of cutting off his “gift”. This gift (sacrifice) of his chin or beard tip as an enlarged fresh fruit, is somehow unreal or fake, implying that the intellect perhaps to be constructed as shabby oration.
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