Scar Tissue (1979)
Scar Tissue by Su Friedrich is a filmic version of a white canvas or a silent music piece, where although a very specific reading is possible, the many possible readings are almost more meaningful and true to the work. Here are a few readings that stem from my specific, personal experience:
Reading 1: Lee Friedlander photographs. The photographer's images of New York are particularly pertinent to Friedrich's work. Two artists' skewed perspectives are directly related to the geometric visual sensibility that they seem to share. The city, people and places that are well-recognized become defamiliarized. The viewer, through this disorientation, is drawn in to get reacquainted with the images that are obviously anchored in daily reality. The work pulls and repels us, revealing just enough of what we know and then fracturing that information to engage us the whole time we're 'in' these moving images.
Reading 2: The fractured sequence is reminiscent of Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon. However, the deconstruction of such a mundane sequence to create a set of absolutely unique, almost ominous images with an inherent rhythm makes Scar Tissue almost more dreamlike than Deren's work. As the viewer is aware of the particular environment where these images are situated, the film takes on a more menacing role, showing us what "could" be.
Reading 3: The fact that Friedrich never really shows the whole body, but rather plays off of body parts could be read as a desire to show less of the people on the screen, so that the viewer's reading can be generalized. If the "characters" existed as people, the images would inevitably read to be telling a story about these people. The legs and torsos do not signify people; it is the experience of these body parts and the rhythm with which they are portrayed that constitute the work.
Reading 4: Scar tissue or scarring can be defined as the state of a wound as it is healing. It does not denote a complete healing, where the wound cannot be seen any more. It also does not mean the state of a wound, which interferes with the integrity of the body and it is something that needs to be mended immediately; a wound is a state of flux that the body cannot tolerate. Hence, scar tissue is that state in between, paralleling the images in the film. Nobody is at their destination, they are also not at their comfort zone, their "base". Friedrich christening the film with such a corporal title reveals a more personal, visceral intention in the work that can be extrapolated to each and every one of us who share the quotidian with the owners of these body parts we see on the screen.
-- Merve Unsal