Out of the Body Travel (1976)

Genres - Theater, Visual Arts, Dance  |   Run Time - 42 min.  |   Countries - United States  |  
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Review by Brian Whitener

Richard Foreman, founder of the famous Ontological-Hysteric Theater, made several outstanding early videos, notable for their formal rigor and filmic qualities. Out of Body Travel, performed by students at the American Dance Festival, is a perfect example of the elements which set Foreman's work apart from other video art. Unlike early film, early video had little connection to theatrical traditions. Part of what Foreman brings to video is a willingness to bring these traditions to video art. In Out of Body Travel, Foreman uses tableaux, the centerpiece of 19th century theatre and early film melodrama, as the primary narrative and compositional device. The video itself is an exploration of a young woman discovering the role language plays in constituting her sense of self and her body. Ingeniously, using planar divisions of space and depth, Foreman constructs a series of arresting images whose movement renders the imaginary workings of the young woman's consciousness. Against these images, Foreman sets the young woman's narration, "I want to replace my body into the world where it came from. What I mean is -- my body came from the world but it turned into a secret, i.e. my body." The video's excellent cinematography is courtesy of Babette Mangolte, an experimental filmmaker who went on to make several noteworthy films including The Sky on Location.