So often we allow ourselves to experience the ethical dilemma of spectatorship as mere anxiety—an academic curiosity, a problem for the anthropologists—that a film with the animal urgency of Simone Smith’s “Red” can still leave us windless. Clarified by the bold-faced moral stakes of war photography, this latent anxiety achieves pitched form, rendered in a throbbing cinema of incoherence, scrolling through interchangeable avatars of victim and oppressor, culminating in the mechanical violence of the decisive moment. (cont'd below)
Watch the film embedded below...
The piece is anti-analytical, an attempt to circumvent any glamorizing distance of analysis, to dismantle the reassuring borders of the frame. (Isn’t there an indictment contained in the material tension between the fluidity of digital and the boundaried instant of analog picture-making?) Smith’s editing produces a frame so thoroughly embodied that we stop blinking for ourselves.
The shutter collapses. A meaty red floats on the screen. The shutter opens. We gasp for air, struggle to make sense in sense’s absence, among perspectives too frantic to cotton, against hard landscapes pilfered of meaning. The shutter collapses. The stability of red is almost soothing. The shutter opens. The mechanism carves an alibi out of the light, frames our complicity as something else, a stillness. The shutter collapses.