“Don’t Read Now”
Video installation

Secret love letters passed in school, words scribbled on folded paper, intentions of warmth and inquiry, expressions of hope or rejection – all these are private interactions of youth, first love and first crushes. The emotional tattoos of which are ingrained in our psyche and remain throughout our lives. They emerge in our adulthood as hope and dreams never fulfilled, in failed relationships and in fond, re-heated memories of innocence.

Don’t Read Now is a common warning in the art of passing notes. The privacy and possible embarrassment of personal, heart-felt emotions being overheard or overseen by the wrong person. The lies and pain that words disguise by their very nature is something that can only be revealed through time and re-discovery.

As a video installation, “Don’t Read Now” consists of two video elements by
Michael J. Saul, accompanied by original music by Steven M. Miller.

Video one (4 minute loop), utilizes actual letters collected by the filmmaker that were sent to him by various boyfriends in his youth. This footage is inter-cut with actual home movies of several of these youths. One holds a mirror, actually catching the reflection of the teen filmmaker as he shoots the scene with his 16mm camera. It explores the relationship between the words and the physical inter-action between these boys and the young filmmaker.

Video two (4 minute loop) is a representation of the feelings, moods, memories, and introspection of these letters in the form of movement. A male aerialist flies effortlessly through the air, expressing the freedom and reflection of the experience of these letters, while another actor struggles underwater, suffocating in the pain of them.

The musical soundtrack is composed and performed by long-time collaborator, Steven M. Miller. It loops continuously.

Ideally the videos would be projected on a combination of three video screens in a three-quarter or half-moon style arrangement with video #1 playing in the center and video #2 playing in the two screens on either side. The videos play on loops, completely independent from each other.


Aerialist: Neal Kemph, Blond boy: David Allan Payne, Swimmers: Jeff Payne and Jason Rayne, Stereopticon boy: Gabriel Paal, Underwater swimmer: Steve Weiser.

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