Three Notes on Public Lighting by Andrea Slovakova (2004)

1. “When I write, I see the shapes behind things,” says the writer from Public Lighting. We need shapes as the interface between words and not-words, between the seen and unseen. Some immanent structure is required, like the melody links in Philip Glass’s minimalism, which arise not only from repetitions of a unique loop, but out of imaginary, polysemic interconnections and divergences between loops. The onscreen text replies, “It is not the melody people listen to, but its endurance.” I would add: the behaviour of enduring. What is important is not the fact of its endurance, but how.

2. “I take pictures to record my forgetting,” says the filmmaker portrayed in Public Lighting. The camera observes a woman in celebration, poised above her cake which shines with light. We hear only the crackling of firecrackers, her laughter is withheld from us, though her mirth still looks convincing. Except it’s not because she can’t remember it. The image dissolves, because we must not perceive its memory as a testimony; only as shards of isolated gestures being materialized now in different times (the times of those who watch).

3. The last shot of Public Lighting shows a crowd of running children, and while the entire screen is in motion there is an unbearable feeling of constraint, and the memory of meaningless long-distance runs, the body stretched across useless achievements. Finally, when they have all come and gone, and run their race, one girl is left behind, askew, the closer she gets, the more pained and laboured she appears. Every race holds a place for the one who arrives first and another for the last one.

The nervous feeling in the shot coalesces inside her.

We do not hear a single sound. This memory carries its sensations in the muscles and stomach contractions, her eyesight fixed on the backs of the faster ones. Ears have not remembered this situation. Vital spontaneity and a systematic method mixed-up in a logic of inner rhythms of the mini-stories emerge across Public Lighting’s seven parts, not as narratives but as an a-dramatic flux.