Scott Stark - Noema (1998)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
(1998) videotape, color, sound, 11 mins.
NOEMA is philosopher Husserl's term for "the meaning of an object that is formed in the domain of consciousness." Pornographic videos are mined for the unerotic moments between moments, when the actors are engaging in an awkward change of position or when the camera pans meaningfully away from the urgent mechanisms of sex up to a cheap painting on the wall or the distant embers of a crackling fire. A piercing musical score loops endlessly throughout, and the repetitive and curious iterations of movement become furtive searches for meaning within their own blandness.
"A canny, meticulous reduction of found video porn to raw motion study... Scott Stark finds in the busy-ness of the naked, often disembodied shapes of bodies a rhythm and finally a grace." -- Edward E. Crouse, San Francisco Bay Guardian.
"Scott Stark's Noema... deconstruct[s] a swatch of hard core pornography involving several couples. But instead of finding a hidden psychological subtext, he finds a psychological and erotic blankness in couplings that are never completed." -- Stephen Holden, New York Times.
"Stark uses repetition to choreograph remarkably beautiful sequences of bodily maneuvers as the actors shift position. A penis gets in the way here, a leg has to be pushed down there -- the mechanics of it all make for abstract visual poetry." -- Holly Willis, LA Weekly
"Noema is neither Boogie Nights nor the nights of Scheherezade, but more a Decameron-like tournament of missing links and coitus interuptus. A dizzy daisy chain of synchronized decouplings and eager hesitations where bodies never merge. Porno unplugged. In this skeleton dance of surplus motion the transitional moments of awkward repositioning create a multiple oasis of non sequtir and practical inconvenience.The editing constructs an exaggerated mechanics out of flawed maneuvers allowing anatomies to rotisserie with equestrian grace.The impaired visual intelligence, the unmotivated and lazy drift of the camerwork thirsty for insignificance and the defaulted mise en scene of the original source material asserts its deficiency and negative allure as it is brought to the point of a nearly redemptive desperation. Stark's analytical insistence pits his passionate acuity against dispassionate executions while giving the found material a sporting chance towards atomized immortality and ritual replay. A splayed adagio infects the scenes with a polar melancholy." -- Mark McElhatten, New York Film Festival
"The fact that Scott Stark has given the title NOEMA to a film comprised of looped fragments of video pornography might seem incongruous at first. But the film’s means have a specific historical relationship to questions of perception, intention, and the problem of idealism vs. materialism. But more importantly, NOEMA confronts an ethical dilemma which has shadowed a certain strain of modernism, particularly in cinema." -- Michael Sicinski, from Unbracketing Motion Study: Scott Stark’s NOEMA, in the anthology Porn Studies (Linda Williams, ed., Duke University Press, 2004)
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