If Spring, Then Hope, and Also Winter is a meditation on the death of a young life. Introduced by a parallel allusion to the premature death of a stand of trees, the piece focuses on an image of a young girl, unconscious on a hospital bed, apparently dying. Alternate responses to her death (one, matter-of-fact, speaking of giving thanks in all things, the other distraught) are sung in liturgical style by two adult voices (male and female). This refrain is repeated over and overthe words losing clarity with each repetition and eventually merging with the ambient sound of the space in which the original recording was repetitively re-recorded. The image of the young girl on the hospital bedand, later, family album snapshots of the girl with her sister and cousins at the beach (where, apparently, a fatal shark attack occurred)is recognizably altered by the sound. At first, the adults words create abrupt changes to the pattern overlaying the image; as the sound transforms into a series of ringing tones, the patterns change accordingly. As the words become increasingly indistinct, the patterns generated by the sound reveal the underlying images with increased clarity. Towards the end, the sound is omitted, and may be imagined from the patterns that form. The snapshots are alternated with images of a fast-flowing river over which texts appear relating to beliefs and wishes about life. The final image of this river, with the text, we look forward to the spring, dissolves to an image of the trees seen at the opening of the piece-now leafless and heavily covered with snow.
I made this piece both to recreate something of the sense of the dispersal of a persons spirit in death. I also wanted to express both beauty and coldness in relation to death (of youth in particular) and to address the conflicts we can have in accepting such death.
9:30 minutes © 1997
color/sound video (NTSC)
Script, camera, sound, editing: Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe
Voices: Carole Buggé, Anthony Moore
Children: Mia Witte, Alyssa Witte, Jenny Witte, Lawrence Witte
Special thanks to Alvin Lucier for his kind permission to copy the re-recording technique he created in his 1970 audio piece I am sitting in a room
If Spring, Then Hope, and Also Winter was made with the support of The Experimental Television Center Ltd. and Downtown Community Television
International Womens Video Festival, New Zealand
REMOTE Benefit Screening, NYC
Death & Taxes show, Dorsch Gallery, Miami, FL
The Millennium, New York
Artists Space, New York
DUTV - Philadelphia, PA
Short Fuse (Channel 57), New York