This is one of those 'in between' moments.
Henry Gwiazda doesn’t want to be thought of as a composer anymore; the three animated video works on this DVD may put the kibosh on that once and for all. The former guitar-and-sampler guru has gone anything but Hollywood.
These are sparse Zen studies of everydayness: houses on a suburban street, a downtown outdoor restaurant, or a guitarist practicing in the living room. Just enough sound and gesture to catch your attention without rattling your Cage.
"They’re the most trivial little happenings, and somehow Gwiazda makes us start eagerly anticipating them. What he hopes is, that once we turn away from his art and go back to our lives, we’ll take that same attitude to the sensuous details around us. It works for me." [Kyle Gann]
"Perhaps we should focus our attention on the vast majority of time in which we live, those times 'in between' where nothing is going on- those empty spots, while we're waiting for what we believe are the events of our life." [Henry Gwiazda]
These works are not a documentary of life. Gwiazda's artistic voice is that of someone with an obsessive need to categorize, control and order the sprawl of events. There is an subliminal violence to the work, the violence of forcibly removing from the picture any social, political, ecological, or other kind of awareness having to do with relations between people (and money). There is a strange kind of heavy suffocation to the reduced, minimal world of the works which in interesting, because they simultaneously have a lightness of texture and a feeling of freedom and pleasure which comes from releasing the viewer into a world of heightened awareness and presence. As animations, they are not about noticing things, but about noticing how one notices things. These works evoke for me a state of consciousness which I have attained more frequently as I get older. The state of being strongly Present in any given environment and having a heightened awareness of the relationships between ordinary events and sounds brings with it a sense of joy, which is probably the joy of knowing that there is so much beauty and pleasure in being alive and in seeing, hearing, and feeling things, even when life is also full of horror and evil. These videos evoke this sense of joy for me. The split screen format is about experiencing the texture of life from several different distances at the same time, with a Buddhist sense of detachment balanced with compassion. The idea that ordinary moments can be enjoyed the way that one enjoys a piece of music would probably bring a completely new and ecstatic way of experiencing life to viewers of Gwiazda's work, if only they have the courage to delve into the work's implications in earnest.
By David Finkelstein