Kenneth Baker of the SF Chronicle reviews Manhole 452

Kenneth Baker of the SF Chronicle reviews <em>Manhole 452</em>

Posted: May 23 | Author: | Filed under: News & Updates | Tagged: , , ,

On May 14th the San Francisco Chronicle published a review by Kenneth Baker of our show at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Manhole 452.  He calls the film “a darkly lyrical hybrid of rumination and documentation, so slightly tinted with humor as to leave viewers wondering whether they perceive it or imagine it.”

You can see Manhole 452 on YouTube.  Read the entire review after the break.

Baker writes,

Bay Area collaborators Jeanne C. Finley and John Muse have a new video showing at Patricia Sweetow. It entwines documentary imagery and fictive voice-over narration to create a 12 1/2-minute urban infrastructure suspense film.

The title, Manhole 452, faintly echoes Fahrenheit 451, and even more faintly, but not irrelevantly, Fahrenheit 9/11.

The 1966 movie that François Truffaut based on a Ray Bradbury novel sounded alarms about the sort of conflagration—of wisdom, humanity and pleasure in life—to which mass conformity can lead. Michael Moore annexed its sinister overtones when he titled his 2004 docu-diatribe against the Bush administration’s cynical abuse of power.

Finley and Muse marshal these associations and more, though their narrator accounts for the title by noting—accurately? who knows?—that 452 manholes punctuate San Francisco’s Geary Boulevard.

Images of steam, and later flames, shooting from manholes, and of a manhole cover quaking noisily in midstreet like the cover of a pot on the boil, lend power to the ambiguous voice-over. It mixes ostensible facts with insinuations that the speaker may have suffered a disabling injury from an underground explosion.

The viewer begins to taste his fear as news-channel soundtrack and surveillance footage of gushers from below ground concoct a bad dream of mishap by infrastructure failure or, perhaps, terrorism.

As in some of their earlier video work, Finley and Muse construct a darkly lyrical hybrid of rumination and documentation, so slightly tinted with humor as to leave viewers wondering whether they perceive it or imagine it.

A hanging series of angry orbs on vellum fleshes out Finley and Muse’s show: charcoal rubbings of manhole covers from the San Francisco streets.

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