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Terre Thaemlitz: Interstices & Lovebomb
Comatonse DVD
- Ken Hollings

In The Wire (UK), Issue 267, May 2006.


When in 1997 Terre Thaemlitz completed his video translation of "Silent Passability (Ride To The Countryside)" from his Couture Cosmetique CD, MTV declined to show it, on the grounds that it was "too Ambient for broadcast." The four minute piece, a shimmering sequence of puce moments and silent gestures made by transgender performers filmed in upstate New York, has been included as a bonus feature at the end of Interstices, where it offers a useful coda to Thaemlitz' intense speculations on the cultural politics behind our received ideas of gender identity. Held together by the refrain "There was a girl, there was a boy" repeatedly crooned over blurred footage of embracing couples, the visual subject matter of Interstices embraces medical documentation, clips from vintage porn movies and chat show encounters in a manner that does not so much emphasise their differences as their commonalities. The heavy use of fades, dissolves and rapid crosscuts in the presentation of this material emphasizes its lack of clarity. As with the extreme close-ups of scanned video images that recur throughout the piece, any clear line, structure or boundary is ultimately shown to be illusory. The same is also applied to notions of gender identity. "Exactly what is my opposite sex?" an unseen interviewee asks during a televised discussion on the surgical 'correction' of any human form whose anatomy does not automatically reveal its destiny. The opposite of what, precisely?

In a culture where the involuntary act of shedding of tears on a television talk show and the obsessive registering of the 'money shot' in hardcore porn would both appear to guarantee some perceptible degree of authenticity, where sincerity has finally become the new irony, Thaemlitz' audiovisual interventions are more necessary than ever. Joining Interstices on DVD is the video translation of his 2003 recording Lovebomb, formerly available only as an NTSC video for the Japanese market. Now in region-free PAL format, packaged with a CD of the original album, this is a remorseless inquiry into our least authenticated, most constantly repeated declaration; that of 'love.' From the hollow reality of the House Nation's expansive embrace to the destructive love of nationhood itself, Lovebomb explores the love song as an anthropological finding, a social rite and ritual whose meanings have become so hopelessly contradictory that we cease to even notice them anymore. Instead, they are allowed to distract our attention from social structures and divisions that foster domestic violence, homophobia, racism and the most brutal oppression. In Lovebomb, Thaemlitz gradually leads us to confront love's opposite and to ask ourselves what exactly that might be. And that's not such an easy question to answer.