Acapella, one of two videos by Guthrie Lonergan with that title (the other was discussed in the previous post), opens on a stock video clip depicting a direct point-of-view shot in which the camera smoothly banks through white clouds in an otherwise sublimely blue sky.
Almost immediately after this imagery appears onscreen, an a cappella version of the Oasis song “Wonderwall” emerges on the soundtrack and, then, almost immediately after that, an identical “Wonderwall” vocal track appears, creating a harmony.
The lead vocalist of Oasis, Liam Gallagher, in harmony with himself, sings:
Today is gonna be the day
(Today is gonna be the day)
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
(That they’re gonna throw it back to you)
By now you should’ve somehow
(By now you should’ve somehow)
Realized what you gotta do
(Realized what you gotta do)
At about nine seconds into the video, a ray of sun peeks through the clouds and the video clip suddenly loops back to the beginning while the song continues normally.
The video clip then continues looping while the song continues playing.
There’s something blissful about it.
The shot is generic, but somehow beautiful in its simplicity and the harmony created from the a capella versions of “Wonderwall” only adds to the sense of this.
However, as one watches, one may wonder if it’s too blissful–after all, artists who work in a conceptual vein (as Lonergan does) often use aesthetic beauty ironically or to make a broader point about art.
So, one scans through the image, on the hunt for clues or a punchline.
But, there doesn’t seem to be any goofing going on here—it’s not like it’s all a big joke.
Eventually, though, the song ends and the viewer is left only with the endless silent looping of the video clip.
There’s an unsettling quality to just seeing the video clip without the song; it’s not “silent” as in a silent film, but rather “quiet” as in a person who could speak, but chooses not to.
At this point, one can either leave the work or follow it through this new phase.
Now, all that said, a strange sort of question pops up:
Is Acapella a narrative video with a beginning, a middle, and an end, or is it an infinite loop?
Is the piece done when the song finishes or does it just go on endlessly?
To put the question in practical terms, how would one show this in a gallery?
At the opening do you play it through with the song once and, then, for the duration of the exhibition just let the loop cycle through itself in silence or does the curator or gallery assistant just occasionally go over and start it up again based on either whims or an arbitrarily regulated schedule?
Perhaps that’s missing the point, though.
Maybe it only works as Web art in which the user is free to control their own personal experience of the work, viewing for as long as they choose, reloading as frequently as they choose.