Q&A with Filmmakers Muyassar Kurdi & Sarah Bliss – October 25 2018
Here are SARAH BLISS’ full remarks:
In common usage, a transit is a journey. It is also the vehicle or the system that makes a journey possible. In astronomy, a transit is the passage of a lesser body across the sun. In engineering, a transit is an optical instrument, a telescope, which very precisely measures the relationship between objects.
Transit(ive), the film, documents my unexpected discovery that a 16mm projector can be a transit that makes material the relationship between journeying entities: in this case, between my embodied spirit and my father‘s disembodied spirit, which had left his body several days prior.
It is not lost on me that an optical transit utilizes what is called a spirit level.
After my father died, I struggled to make sense of what had happened to the entity I knew as him. Literally, where had he gone? The stuff that I knew as him could not simply have evaporated. Somehow, the answer was in the light. And so, I set up a condition in which I placed potentiated objects in relation, and then opened myself to what might happen. I threaded clear leader through a 16mm projector, turned out the lights, and let the sound of my father’s dying breath fill the room vis-à-vis an audio recording I had made.
As I watched light transit from the projector’s bulb, through its lens and the leader, across the room, and onto the wall, I felt him fill the room. I longed to stroke his cheek – just as I had done as he lay on his deathbed. I reached out to touch him, and my fingers landed on the lens of the projector. Who is to say what that lens was: subject or object? I began to caress it, and instantaneously the light on the wall responded. It rippled, swelled and danced. It faded, burnt out, surged forward again. Shape-shifting, it answered my touch.
Who is to say what is “subject” and what is “object”? Whether a “what” can influence and affect a “who”? What is “alive” and what is “dead”? What is “animate” and what “inanimate”?
We are all of us journeying, all of us transitive. And there are so many clues and so many companions along the way.