Moon Stealing (1994)
Single screen video
During 1994 Chodzko smuggled a camcorder into cinemas in order to try to ‘steal’ any imagery of the moon that might appear within the background of feature films; A peculiarly specific form of video piracy. If any did appear, he would attempt to record a zoom into, or out of the moon, via the camera, ignoring (or overlooking) the intended subject of the scene. Through editing together these illegal moments of entering and exiting the moon in feature films the viewer is taken from one cinema, audience, and film, to another, using the moon as a transition point or gateway, cutting up the individual cinematic narratives and fragments of dialogue through their chance coincidence of the. Often the fleeting moment of a moon’s appearance in a film would be missed by Chodzko, unable to press record and discreetly aim the camera towards the correct location on the screen in time. He would then have to return to the same film several times in order to capture it. Like a moth’s persistent attraction to a light Chodzko’s cinematic phototaxis, a lunacy, also ‘misread’ the presence of moons in the highlight of an eye, or a reflection in a pearl necklace or a car’s headlight, the zoom into the grain of the film dematerialising the things it represented and making any small, circular beam of light apparently lunar. These projected intense spots of light are also an echo of the bright beam of a cinema’s projector. A real moon, shot outside the Clapham Picture House cinema after watching a film, begins Moon Stealing.
What is it about the visuality of the moon, (when we notice that the moon looks ‘good’), that causes us to stop and say to each other ‘look at that moon!’ in a way that we rarely do with the sun? This momentary pause in order to wonder interrupts our activities on the earth and allows a second or two of silence, calmness and awe, at something beyond us and despite us, before we return back to ourselves and carry on with our activities.
The illicit nature of the Moon Stealing activity, in relation to light, relates to Chodzko’s series Flashers (1996) while the notion of a bright hole in an image acting as a transition point occurs in Sleepers. Hole (2012) and Sleepers (2016). The sense of looking awry, into the periphery of an image, or space, also occurs in Secretors (1993), From Beyond (1995) and an interest in nocturnal events is also shown in Nightvision (1998) and Night Shift (2004).
Excerpt from a log of rushes of the recording process: 1994
Counter reset to 00:00 at end of Kieslowski section.
00:24 Universal ‘Sky’
06.30 Rain, Night, Roof, Bright Light
23:59 ‘He walked toward the light’
28:20 Real Moon: Clapham Common
41: Real Moon: Flat
47:20 Shallow Grave: movement through wood
50:00 Car headlights in wood
59: Natural Born Killers Stars “I see angels”
1:02:27 Sky (brief)
Natural Born Killers
Half way through: shamanic part
00:27 Flicker of flames: flaring tree and chanting
04:47 Moon and clouds “some sin, some awful secret thing”
17:44 “ I’m not getting anything off this” as the screen goes blank
22:00 Credits, Leonard Cohen song: people talking in audience.
1:17:48: La Reine Margot : People with torches gallop away from camera
1:19:08: Pearl necklace and grief
1:19:19: Madness of King George: moon
1:30:21: Moon’/Light Him… “They kneel down in front of the whole congregation”
“Do you believe in God?”
1:30:31: Lights as moons: “Look at those big eyes see what you mean to me”
“Let’s just be rational about this.”
05:18 Opening credits… strong percussion… Move through graveyard….rain….trees
flying saucers, flash of lightening zoom in on light
08:17 Clouds as painted backdrop, laughter, angel : “I’m offering you mortals the bird of peace so you can end this destruction’
11:25. Zoom in to light between people (Good moon!!) “so, when you get in there, shake his legs around…it looks like he’s killing you” Audience laughter
Atom Egoyan Exotica:
00 14 Walking through grass “It seems so surreal doesn’t it? Cough, then off. “did you find anything”?