drowning pools

(self portrait)

drowning pools from Jonathan Hutchinson on Vimeo.

drowning pools

This video is an attempt to represent the body’s passage through time. A photograph of the artist holding a camera is inserted into a tank of water. The video begins by focussing on the photograph as water starts to pour over it, and proceeds to zoom out to reveal the tank in its entirety. The intrusion of a ‘power’ source (the flowing water) symbolizes the ultimately random nature of life. Water is given dual purpose in the video: first, as a means of representing time (the photograph is moving constantly throughout the video, representing the body’s unstoppable march through time), and second, as a symbol of the overpowering and uncontrollable aspects of life. The photograph, in the place of the artist, rarely surfaces, and spends most of its time underwater, surrounded by the (literally) flowing time.

The video is presented as one continuous shot of the photograph’s motion; however, the video is reversed part way through. This, along with the photograph’s constant vertical motion, is done to suggest aging- at times, the body is more physically fit and active (when it rises), and at other times it rests (when it falls). The top of the tank represents the prime of the artist’s life, while the (inevitable) ‘fall’ of the artist is depicted with the water that sinks back down.
The rising water also makes the artist visible in its reflection. The round lens of the camera becomes more obvious, as does the artist moving behind it. This presents an inversion of what happens inside the tank: its photograph looks out, at the viewer, while the artist looks in to the tank, recording ‘himself.’

The video speaks to the struggle of fate versus free will. At times, it seems that the photograph has a mind of its own, floating haphazardly through the water, while at other times, it moves completely at the will of the ‘power’ element. Although its pattern seems random, it is truly dictated by the constant flow of the water in the tank, which is imperceptible, much as the many tiny actions and events that affect the artist’s life.
The recording of the video is also crucial to its meaning. It would be impossible to duplicate it precisely, which, despite the intrusion of ‘fate,’ demonstrates that a life cannot ever be duplicated.

As mentioned previously, the video is a consideration of the body’s passage through time, using a physical symbol to more effectively represent time. People in general have little awareness of themselves as “First Name, Last Name, Human Being,” being only aware of their physical existence- the existence that moves constantly in space and time. The photograph, like the body, moves within these restraints constantly. The horizontal motion of the body is considered as physical motion, through space, while its vertical motion is a representation of the body’s passage through time.

The video ends with only a brief glimpse of the opening shot, with water droplets still on the photograph. It does not end exactly as it starts (with the droplets hidden) in order to stress the continuing influence of time on the artist: once a person is born, they are forever within the flow of time. The video becomes a symbol of the artist’s future, of his inevitable slowing down, but constant presence in time. It is both a personal consideration of the artist’s life, and a symbol for the life, and death, of every human.