David Gatten’s The Extravagant Shadows

David Gatten, The Extravagant Shadows, 1998–2012, HD video, color, sound, 175 minutes.

ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH David Gatten’s new work (which premiered last fall in the New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde and will return to Lincoln Center this month), the text of a protracted narrative appears on the screen, in which a woman carries an eagerly purchased book to her room to read in private. Sensing the shadowy but “palpable presence” of the novel’s author (a former lover?) when a page turns without manual assistance or the stir of a breeze, she begins to “search,” turning pages slowly and then with increasing speed. Despite—or perhaps because of—the prolonged rhetorical suspensions and insinuations of the text that we follow, the upshot of the woman’s search is never fully disclosed. Her manner, however, surely mirrors the viewer’s increasing engagement with this mesmerizing meditation on language and the moving image—with its peculiar

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