Steve MacDonald; San Francisco Bay Crossing; 8/2006






In Bay Crossing (a film which documents the artist crossing the San Francisco Bay in a home made rowboat), the story is told through recorded telephone conversations between Steve and various representatives of local agencies (Coast Guard, Parks and Recreation, etc.). This dialogue runs the length of the film, and overlays the visual footage of the actual crossing in progress. Thus we witness the "real" event while listening to Steve attempt to explain his plans for the event (which are for the most part met with - at best skepticism, and sometimes alarm). This juxtaposition provides more than the (sweet) irony of being cautioned not to do something while doing it; it highlights the ambiguity of communication - I say one thing, you hear another. Of course Steve is aware of this, and his deadpan inquisitiveness is the perfect foil for the bureaucratic mindset on the other end of the line. We know that he knows communication is slippery business. The visual quality of the film, washed out super8 footage which simply presents us with the repetitive act of rowing the boat, is contrasted with the immediacy and specifics of the telephone dialogue. This fleeting sense of meaning, and misunderstanding, strikes a chord familiar in Steve's work: funny, yes, but not without a touch of longing and melancholy.
Other exhibits by Steve MacDonald
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