Just as photographer Helen Levitt drew her inspiration from the streets of New York City in the 1940s, contemporary artist James Nares finds his subject in the city streets in his hypnotic 61-minute high-definition video Street and in his 1976 Super 8 short in Pendulum.
Nares, a native of London who came to New York in 1974, describes Street as “a love letter to my adopted home.” Inspired by pioneers of actualité cinema, Nares recorded the mundane details of city street life using innovative technology. He repurposed a stationary high-speed camera (normally used to capture fleeting subjects) to record sixteen hours of footage. Shooting six-second clips, the maximum length of time that the camera can record at such a high resolution, he then greatly slowed his source material, and edited down the results to 61 minutes of steady, continuous motion—which, if shown in real time, would last only three minutes. The accompanying musical score was composed and performed by Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore on a 12-string acoustic guitar.
Pendulum, which follows the arc of a concrete sphere swinging in the deserted streets of Tribeca, was filmed on Super 8 just a few years after Nares moved to the city. Examining the motion of an object in space, the mesmerizing film celebrates the freedom of flight and provides context for Nares’ broader oeuvre of films and videos, which reveal preoccupations with movement, rhythm and repetition. Curated by Lisa Sutcliffe, Curator of Photography and Media Arts.