Wax is an image-processed video narrative, a surreal tone poem with bees and bee television as the tropes conveying a sense of being in convoluted space, never quite sure whether you're inside or outside your own consciousness.
Many of my acquaintances who've seen Wax report that they fell asleep, though my own experience, at least at first viewing, was more hypnotic, lapsing into a theta dream state wherein the edges of the narrative and my own reality blurred...I was the protagonist, Jacob Maker, wandering from one sense of space to another... desert, moon, cavern, beehive.
Influenced by the 20th century experimental fiction of Pynchon,
Borges, and Burroughs, Blair grew Wax over six years of narrative, graphic, and electronic experimentation. The resulting video, originally available only from the author in a limited run of signed copies, has been transferred to film, broadcast over the Internet's multimedia backbone, and may eventually find its way to your local video store. Meanwhile Blair is slowly growing his next piece, Jews in Space.
PO Box 174, Cooper Station
New York, NY 10276
1991, 85 minutes, $36
graphic: Wired Magazine photo of Wax Director David Blair
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Wax:
Suppose you took two guys...and through surgery turned them into Siamese Twins joined at the head. Then, to mutate their already twisted sensibilities... suppose that you juiced their commingled brains with a syrup of minced grey cells, equal parts Dick, Ballard, Jarmusch, and Escher. Next, give them a videocam, some NEA funding, and drop them in the New Mexico desert for a few years. Hand over the tapes plucked from the hands of their desiccated skeletons to the Paintbox/Toaster production people at Entertainment Tonight, and allow them during the edit to insert items plucked at will from the Bettmann Archives, along with snippets of Edison's old kinetoscopes. Then slap on a soundtrack composed by the illegitimate son of Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson.
If you went to all that trouble, you might end up with something as deadpan-surreal, as cerebrally whacked, as mystically trippy as David Blair's WAX.
- Paul Di Filippo
Winningly strange video narrative from a singular talent. Authentically peculiar. Like something from the network vaults of an alternative universe.
- William Gibson
It put me and my two fellow viewers to sleep. I never fall asleep in movies! Some of the bits I was awake for were interesting and "fresh" - the guy's definitely on to something - but frankly I don't understand all the hoopla over this one. Hopefully on Blair's next film he'll refine his editing sensibilities and, if it includes narration, he'll get someone other than himself to do it. I think it's his voice that puts everybody to sleep.
- Gareth Branwyn
(Excerpts from David Blair Wax interview from an upcoming bOING-bOING)
The literal description is an image-processed narrative, though that seems like a dead phrase to start out with. The image is processed, and the narrative's processed. That would mean that you might have a little bit of story, and you might find an interesting picture,
or vice versa... then there's an ordinary collage process, where they change each other. Or, better yet, you take tools and change them, process them where they stand. Everything builds, recombines. It always starts with narrative, though.
It's one of these pieces with very fuzzy dimensions, because it came from a long automatic editing piece that I wanted to cut down, a long previous piece also called Wax. It had a very absent narrative, like a narrative
where everything's pulled out of it, so it seems to read like a poem. I wanted to go put it back in, work with that strange structure, but with a fleshed out,
structured story. I had my trope already chosen, 'cause that was the title, Wax. The trope was bees. And then I went to the library and put together a very loose three-act structure, but that narrative process was more
like some sort of -telephone-, or -exquisite corpse-.
It was meant to be wide awake material, for sure. But you
don't often get a film that's wall-to-wall dissolves... it's got 2,000 dissolves, so everything just moves slowly from one place to another, and the voice-over is definitely...well, some people really like it, because it anchors the fantastic images and story, and maybe they read the irony; but some people think it's a
drone on. That's not what it's meant to be. It's meant to be jolting, to keep you awake. Some people it keeps awake; for other people, it's some kind of involuntary lucid dream happening to somebody else, and they want to go home.