Look, (notes on the pleasure of falling)
Jumping into the void is akin to leaps of faith: you throw your body, with abandon, to the uncertain destiny of the fall, betting on survival, a safe arrival, non-disintegration. So it is with the “mortal somersault” with which the acrobat awes us. The heart jumps with him, accompanying the uncertain though gleaming flight of his certainty. “Remember the first time you dared do something?,” asks the text at a point in the video (or at least so I seem to glimpse through the vacillating web of its comings and goings.) That too is leaping into the void. To hurl oneself with joy and horror, simultaneously, into the well of the unknown.
The bodies hurl themselves one after the other into a void that has become unpredictable because of the framing of the image. One guesses, in their aplomb, that the fall is safe. But we cannot know for sure. It is a gradual discovery, as gradual is our subjective transit from uneasiness to uncertainty to joy (or as the soundtrack moves, from anguishing to summery banality.) In the sensuous density of the slow-motion, a fan of gestures unfolds: throwing with abandon the hands in the air, making with conceit a gesture of athletic dominion, prolonging the moments of calculation and doubt at the edge of the abyss, maybe out of insecurity, perhaps only to better savor the imminence of the fugue. There’s even one who carries another on his back, companion in the adventure, in an fall one imagines as an initiation for the child. Looked at from a poolside, it would be easy to reduce this to the surface of a game. But here, in the estranged temporality of the video, it reveals other reverberations, other folds of meaning. Other questions. If the act of speech is a leap of faith, then to make a question is to invite the jump. Look, the title of the video, resonates with these ambiguities: it could simply point at something (“look, see what’s over there”). But it also invites to look, beseeching, defiantly even, to pose the gaze with detention upon the objects discovered by an other: “look, you too, as I have.” Look, and tell me what you see. It invites us to walk down the plank, to the edge, and jump. In this, it makes the noblest gesture of art: it reminds us that vital experience itself, against the horizon of meaning, is always but a pirouette in the void, a leap of faith that bets on surviving the free-fall of existence. And at the same time it presents itself as interpellation and question, as a sign inviting us to exercise the defiance of leaping.
In the end, the jumpers in the video return, with the frame now completely open, to the predictable edges of reality. They fall, joyfully and safe, into the fresh embrace of a pool. Perhaps they will walk down the plank again to repeat, in the ritual of play, the fleeting suspension of all certainty. Who knows. We instead, without having moved, just keep on falling.
Guillermo Cifuentes /December, 2004