At first blush, it appears that Paul Clipson, the director of Young Moon’s “Crystal Text,” has a veritable fetish for light. He notably uses real film — Super 8mm, at that — and this video’s effects are the prize of work done within the camera itself, sans digital sorcery.
An extra viewing or two, however, slyly suggests that Clipson’s true fetish might be a bit more traditional: that is to say, he’s fixated on flesh. Maybe not flesh in the veins of whoopee and lace, as more lascivious filmmakers might choose to feature, but flesh all the same. Eye flesh. Hand flesh. Tree flesh. Pond flesh. Is there a single shot in “Crystal Text” that doesn’t somehow feature skin or at least demand some skin-centric metaphor? That initial sequence, of peeling crimson petals, is like the flailing of cardiac valves. Appropriate, as here is where the beat works itself out. How happily weird, the way that that human hand later frisks the zombie-esque pallor of bark. I once saw a photograph of an old oak in Sicily, gnarly, tumorous, and so much like dermis that the trees lining Central Park infected me with abjection for months.
But of course, Clipson’s connections don’t frighten — they entrap. “Crystal Text” is a mass dissection and intermingling of tissues, human and plant alike. Which is all to say it fits the simple song well: The single notes of the guitar line peck along, as if drawing the audio equivalent of a dotted line — cut here. But the music, of course, remains diligently tender. It is, to me, about the direct and colossus connection that eventually makes it hard to determine whose body belongs to whom. It’s not about the separation of people, but of their similarities.
But, all said, do be sure your tree consents.
Young Moon’s Navigated Like the Swan was recently released by Western Vinyl. See more of Paul Clipson’s film work here.