Secure the Shadow...'Ere the Substance Fade


Still from the film

Secure the Shadow is a meditation on disintegration and mortality. The film utilizes antique Medical stereoscopic images from the Victorian era, which are simultaneously disturbing and beautiful. My intention was to attempt to reveal universal truths about the overwhelming quality of disease to render us ultimately mute, immobilized within a corporeal shell that has succumbed to imminent forces beyond our control. I also wanted the film to address the myth that dignity is automatically restored upon when facing death. In analyzing the original function of the stereoscopes, I intended to expose their classificatory nature. These anonymous subjects were reduced to paradigms of pathology, embalmed in time within their exterior presence. By rephotographing them on the optical printer and placing them in a mythical home, I was attempting to reanimate these visages to ensnare them or allow them to roam free on the surface of celluloid. Absence transforms to presence as the latent image reveals the manifest content, the slippery territories in between unraveling like the threads joining the crazy quilt that joins images together. An anachronistic Victorian sensibility places the images in a chimerical, historical context that embodies the film with a mind that is paradoxical and alien to our 21st century perspective. The title "Secure the Shadow. ..'Ere the Substance Fade, let nature imitate what nature has made", comes from a 19th century post mortem photographer who advertised his services. This reference speaks about the function of photography of as a democratizing medium that assists in the process of mourning and serves as a physical reminder of loss.

Kerry A. Laitala Work