James Nares brings New York to Manila via ‘Street’

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Karen Kunawicz

The four-day Art Fair just ended with a record number in attendance. By Saturday night, they said they had about 18,000 visitors for the day and they were expecting 20,000 for Sunday.

There was just so much to see—I was personally overwhelmed and could not give every gallery a proper visit. I enjoyed the dark pieces with the wide-eyed girls at Crucible, found an Ossorio at Duemila. I also marveled at the work of the Syjuco sisters Maxine and Michelline: Maxine with her paintings and Michelline with her edgy, goth, and beautiful bags and jewelry. There’s also this odd political digital sound and visual piece by Tad Ermitano.

People have asked if it was worth the P250 admission fee (students with valid IDs get in for P50, Makati students get in for free). It’s all so relative really—depending one’s means, views and turn-ons.

The piece I was mesmerized by this year was accessible to the public for free though. It was James Nares’ Street which screened on a huge video wall just outside the Stock Exchange Building at the Makati Triangle. From February 14 to 18, the movie was screened from 12 noon to 2 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. There were four runs of this 61-minute masterpiece each day.


‘Fan Girl’ enjoying the first run of ‘Street’ in the outdoors, over a breezy lunch break

Street is a collection of slow motion shots of every day people and street scenes in New York City, taken by a high-speed camera, in increments of six seconds (apparently the camera’s capacity at the time for shooting at that high of a speed and maintaining its incredibly high resolution).

You get to see a pigeon unhurriedly flapping its wings, the deliberate trajectory of a cigarette being flicked and facial expressions changing ultra gradually. It is mesmerizing to see one of the world’s most diverse, busiest and fastest cities being almost frozen in time like that. The harried movements now become oddly graceful, the faces, fascinating.

In some scenes, people almost feel like cardboard cutouts moving on walkalators like waves in a puppet play.

Run at regular speed, the footage would last under three minutes. Nares shot sixteen hours of footage total from an SUV driving through the city.

To top it off, Nares uses the music of long time (think about four decades) collaborator, Thurston Moore to accompany the footage, giving it this beautiful, hypnotic feel throughout the video. For those who don’t know, Thurston Moore is with the legendary American rock band Sonic Youth. They played here with the Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys in 1995. Moore actually accompanied Street live at the Metropolitan Museum in New York three years ago.

I probably would have been over the moon if they did that here at Art Fair.

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