Paul Pfeiffer b. 1966
Morning After the Deluge (2001)
In the middle, there’s the sun. Behind the sun, there’s the sky, a golden orange. Wisps of cloud are tinged brown. Sometimes there’s the flapping silhouette of a passing bird. And near the top, there’s some kind of black band that runs across the width of the projection. As it scrolls slowly, ever so slowly, downward, moving in front of the sun, reaching the very bottom of the image, then reappearing at the top, it ripples. It’s water.
It’s rather a neat trick. Two films of the sky over Cape Cod – one of a sunrise, the other of a sunset – have been combined. The midpoint of the video projection – when the ribbon of sea is halfway down the screen, passing right through the middle of the blazing red sun – is actually made up of an image of a half-risen sun, and upside-down, that of a half-set sun. In one sense, then, The Morning After the Deluge (2003) could be seen within the tradition of formalist experimentation in film. Digital technology is used to create a seamless illusion, but one that simultaneously alerts the viewer to the very mechanics of that illusion.
And, like the best tricks, it’s unsettling. The constant scrolling of the black band of water, the passage of Earth’s horizon around the unmoving sun, seems to confound human experience, while at the same time confirming what we scientifically hold to be true. And though at first the image seems almost serene, the perpetual repetition of day followed by day starts to convey an awful, chilling sense of timelessness. -- Gabriel Coxhead