Filmed on 16mm because James Benning always films on 16mm. In his hands, the film material requires a special quality that makes the question ‘why not video?’ superfluous. And why not 35mm? Because Benning likes to work solo, to have a free hand and therefore wants to use easily manageable equipment. Like a landscape painter, he sets off with his tripod as an easel to capture moving paintings. Or found paintings, as he calls them himself.
Where Benning previously moved into the desert (for e.g. El valley centro) or along a series of lakes (for 13 Lakes), here he stayed close to home, the mountain village of Val Verde in California, and pointed his camera upwards. To the sky. To record the sky and clouds - even though the images are always in motion. As often with Benning, the film is clear, if not mathematically structured. Ten shots, each lasting ten minutes. It is that simple. It is that strict too. Yet the film can only be called dynamic thanks to the speed with which the captured light changes and dramatic thanks to the great differences in tone.
The film is not only made up of looking. Listening is the other half of the story. Offscreen, we hear the sounds of the ground evoking a world of its own and enormously enriching the viewer’s experience. An experience of great beauty - according to the maker - is necessary in a time of destruction and war. (GjZ)