Director's Statement / Concept
'CHEAP BLONDE' is based on a scriptwriting concept to deconstruct then reform one single sentence "A famous filmmaker said, 'Cinema is the history of men filming women' " in a modular pattern.
The twelve words which make up this sentence are rearranged twenty two times in order to to alter and subvert the original meaning. The first half of the twenty two statements are spoken by a man's (computer-generated) voice, then the second half by a woman's (computer-generated) voice. Do we listen differently to the words according to the sex of the speaker? How do subtle changes to the order of words in a sentence have the capacity to alter its meaning? Can we in fact trust that the sentence under consideration is an authentic quotation at all? (Do we hear faint echoes of the voices of Godard or Truffaut here?)
'CHEAP BLONDE' is a word-game which ruminates on film authorship, sexism in the film industry and advertising, and the subjective perspectives of men and women as writers and film viewers. However, there is also a certain level of irony in the work, especially as conveyed through the use of sometimes authoritative, other times poignant computer- generated voices. The film examines the 'truth' of images, as idyllic waterfalls are revealed to be mere electronic constructs.
Looped images reveal a tanned blonde woman basking seductively in front of a waterfall. This was filmed at one of the stands at the SMPTE broadcast equipment trade show. Blonde bikini-clad models are frequently used as male-magnets for electronic equipment, car, boat and other trade events and commercials. Lines of beared grey suited men could be seen testing out the focus of ever 'new and improved' cameras on the sensual lines of suitably flawless models.
The first image of the woman sitting basking in front of a waterfall is complemented by a male voic- over describing the scene, as if he were an unseen voyeur crouched in the 'mossy grotto' nearby. The audience is drawn into this scene, the woman's looped gestures creating a repetitive almost erotic rhythm - we too are caught in the act of looking, of desire. As the film progresses, and the structure of the original statement "A famous filmmaker said, 'Cinema is the history of men filming women' " is reworked, the image is broken down into its component parts. In fact the image of the woman is a construct. The real woman is sitting in a studio against a blue screen. An offscreen fan is blowing her hair, and artificial shadows move across her face. She is splashing her face, not with cool river water, but with water from a bucket beside her in the studio.
This is an amusing and surprising visual deceit, especially when the waterfall disappears only to be replaced by colour bars and other white noise and electronic backgrounds. The image is revealed to be a fake, and finally disintegrates into pixels and lines, highlighting the fact that every filmed image is, in reality, a highly contrived artifact. This work seeks to explore the notion of 'truth', and how it is constructed through language and the manipulation of the cinematic image.
(Writer/Director) April 1998
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