Engine-room driver

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Imagine the immense cargo vessels, entire worlds would easily fit in these massive holds, slowly passing by on the horizon with unknown destination. I think of the end scene from New York is Eating Me & The Cactus Dance a short documentary by Dutch visual artist Jeroen Kooijmans. He initially sets out to paint a portrait of New York on the basis of a theme that is as intriguing as arbitrary: the moustache. Shortly after he started making this film, he witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers from his apartment window. This experience has a profound personal impact, the opportunity for concerning yourself with something as trivial as a moustache had instantly lapsed. However in the middle of the tense aftermath, Kooijmans shows how it is still possible to depict New York and its inhabitants, and to simultaneously pay tribute to the moustache. Even more so, he manages to capture and connect the tension, the painfulness and the loss, but also the humor. He created a haunting film, sometimes on the edge of hysteria, sometimes registering dryly, at other times poetically and serene.

For me the above is a pivotal scene in the film. It feels like the known world in it's entirety got dramatically shipped out, leaving a massive emptiness in the New York skyline. I stole the scene and used it in my November 2019 video as if I dimly foresaw the reality shift that was brutally imposed on us with the Corona crisis few months later. Back to the wood block that washed up at the beach, or rather the almost perfect freight ship that I found in the sand.

I wrote about the artist film maker Jeroen Eisinga sitting in his canoe obviously stuck in a narrow ditch, and now the other Jeroen with his unstoppable freight vessel on the Hudson river, moving out of the cadre. Inertia and mobility both gestures play a role in my Cargo Transporter piece. By the way, it's remarkable that both Jeroen Eisinga as well as Jeroen Kooijmans filmed orange/red vessels. As I mentioned in my former post, my ship is greenish, the perfect complimentary coloration. Maybe a trivial detail but when you work long hours in the silence of the studio like me, such things gain significance. The cutting and hollowing out of the wood block went more easy than I thought, who knows how long it floated on the currents, I smoothly followed the grain of the wood with my chisels. Before I knew it I had the machine room ready, ships propeller running and the engine-room driver set and done.

It's always good when things start to piece together and it's even better when the work goes more fluent than you initially thought possible. Though it's still not clear when and how exactly the ships model ends up in my monthly video short... the sounds and images that I find ready to combine, all the things that dwell behind the horizon, at least the engine is gearing up perfectly.