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The Kiss

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Date Minted:  February 8, 2019

Artist Description: Clip from an unfinished music video for the band What She Said.... Listen to the original song on Musicoin: Listen to the original song on Ujo:

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Real film work, of a kind you don’t often see ‘round these here parts, but it’s so lovely, and it’s so self-affirming, and in an oeuvre populated not by other film works but by glitch and meme work, by collage and abstraction, it stands on its own as an exemplar of earnest beauty, the depths of emotion and skill the artist, Thegaloiscxn, is capable of. Clearly, Thegaloiscxn is an incredibly capable creator, well-versed in the full suite of digital and multimedia tools. It should probably not be so surprising that a piece like The Kiss is tucked within these works, one of two traditionally-styled film works on the artist’s Superrare page (at least that I can spot), and yet, perhaps because in both tone and composition it is so distant from many of Thegaloiscxn’s works, I find myself astounded. Because The Kiss is full-on dreamy, dusty, desert beauty. It is the work of not just an artist but an artisan, and within it are allusions to filmmakers past whose presence I can feel even if I can’t name them. That this piece began life as a “clip from an unfinished music video,” is quite astounding. It’s not wrong to feel that we were robbed of the full work by circumstance. But in its place is The Kiss, short and simple, so evocative of love and freedom, so hopeful and yet despairing, so populated with the nuance of full-heartedness. I tend to think that further length would only have done this sequence a disservice. It is positively grandiose in its diminutive length. The last tag Thegaloiscxn gives this work is #BaroqueEcstasy. Man, I wish I could describe this piece so well. 

Although, upon reflection, ecstasy isn’t exactly the word I’d use. The Kiss is softer and more subtle than that, a fact exemplified with the gentle color palette. There are really two realities commingling within this piece, what I suppose we can call the “real world” and the “imagined world.” The former is the space that exists as the piece begins and ends. It is the blank background between the two lovers who, you know, actually do the aforementioned kissing. It’s white and bright blue at different times, but neither color is presented in more sterile form, but more like pieces of the sky, immediately understood and calming and peaceful. An empty void, yes, but not offputtingly so. And then, the “imagined world,” is that which dominates the piece. It exists instead of skin within the two lovers’ faces as their lips —approaching from opposite sides of the frame— slowly come forward and join to each other. It’s as if the physical skin has been removed and replaced by washed-out visuals, in this case from the windshield perspective of a card driving through a desert at dusk. The sun has just gone down over distant hills, leaving a smear of siena where it has most recently set, the sky a dying blue and luscious black above it, almost green. The hills are spires and mounds in the distance. The road is empty, closed in by headlight-lit brush and mesquite, though flora is moved past too quickly to be identifiable. The car is turning around a bend, approaching a street sign. It goes nowhere we can know, however, because the lovers suddenly break their kiss off, and as their heads move apart, so does the cohesion of the filmed driving. It exists only in their cheeks and fingertips, but these are pulled apart, absorbed by the return of the white-blue background. The Kiss ends here. Both faces pull out of frame. The blue is washed out into a bright, blinding white. And the loop begins again. And we wait —because of course we wait— for the two lips to reunite once more. 

Much of The Kiss plays on our expectations, on our ingrained drive towards romanticism and contact. I’ve developed somewhat of a theory, not necessarily about visual art but about narrative art: film, and literature especially. What I’ve noticed is that we as readers or audience members root for certain outcomes for characters on principle, using our own definitions of morality and of contentment to drive our desire to see certain end results. The actual personality of the characters is almost besides the point. If two people are dancing around their attraction, we naturally want to see them joined, whether that’s sexually or romantically. We want marriages to last. If we see a couple together, and they break apart, we want them to reconcile. We have certain ideas of how a situation plays out happily, or how we would see a situation’s outcome as satisfactory for ourselves, and we impress this upon the characters therein. We don’t need, as artists and authors, to justify these situations, because the audience is bought into them automatically. 

I feel the same pull here in The Kiss. There is a beautiful, elegant satisfaction to the joining of these two bodies together in contact. Thegaloiscxn emphasizes that beauty by equating this contact with a classically American idea of freedom: the open road of the American west, a place unfettered by law and unfettered by demand, the mystifying expansiveness of a land explored in song by Bruce Springsteen, in film by the German director Wim Wenders, in literature by Steinbeck. Thegaloiscxn adds to the canon.

The two figures’ eventual breaking apart is shocking. Expectations: We want to follow that dusty road further. We want the kiss to last, or to result in another. The breaking apart is foul, especially because, in the crucible of our imagination, we have already married the two off, given them a smattering of children, and set them —now 80— on a pair of matching rockers on a porch somewhere, the grandkids playing whiffle-ball out back. But now we don’t know if we’re seeing the first culmination of feelings or the ultimate end of them. This piece is titled The Kiss, and not The First Kiss, or The Last. Ambiguity reigns. Maybe that open road is not the freedom that lays before these two figures, but represents the now-inaccessible past. Perhaps it is memory, and that’s why it’s short and that’s why it’s washed out, faded, without clear detail. The ambiguity is part of the allure, and we, naturally, want to see it cleared up. We seek answers inherently, but in lieu of them, we seek those things which comfort us. A connection. A kiss. And all a kiss thereafter represents.

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