I watched a 14-hour video of a man sitting in a chair

2021-11-13 06:35:59 By : Ms. Matier Max

Here's what you need to know: Milwaukee photographer Lois Bielefeld created a 14-hour and 13-minute video called "Dad and the Chair." The video is an uninterrupted shot of Lois's father Eric sitting on his recliner. "This work started at 9:07 in the morning, just after my father went downstairs to start a new day," she said. "It records the day he woke up in a chair, from when he first sat down to go to bed around 11:30 in the evening"

"Dad and Chair" is part of a large exhibition called "Committed to Memory". This is a photography-oriented show that explores the relationship between Louise and her parents, as well as themes such as aging, family life, rituals and beliefs. It will be on display at the Portrait Association Contemporary Art Gallery (207 E. Buffalo St., #526) until November 13.

Before the gallery night this weekend, I camped at the Portrait Society and watched the entire 14-hour "Dad and the Chair" video. Like, the whole thing. All 14 hours. Myself. Take a seat. From 9:07 in the morning to 11:20 in the evening, just like a video. This is strange. too tired. It used to be beautiful. This is my report.

At 8:48 in the morning, I arrived at the Portrait Society to meet with Lois and gallery director Debra Brehmer. Lois gave me a brief introduction to her show. Her photos and videos were taken in her childhood home in Wauwatosa. They investigate issues such as cohabitation, housework, family relations and religion. Lois explained that she was a strange atheist, and her parents were evangelical Christians.

Meanwhile, Deb surprised me with a cooler full of snacks. She told me where to find the bathroom and gave me a key to lock me within 14 hours. She was very happy that I did this. Both women thanked me and said goodbye.

9:07 am The video starts. Eric walked into the living room and sat down in a chair. I packed my things and sat down in a chair. Eric browses his newspaper and sips his coffee. I scribbled on my notebook and sipped coffee. Eric watches TV. I watch TV. Yes, it will be fun. here we go.

9:19 am Eric's wife and Lois' mother Sally called from another room. Eric got up from his chair and walked out of the frame.

9:21 am Eric came back and sat down. For the next half an hour or so, he reads his papers, sips his coffee, clicks on the notebook computer, and observes things that sound like NCIS.

9:57 am Eric gets up and leaves the room. A bug-or maybe it's just a dust particle? -Pull away from the camera.

10:07 am One hour! This will be a breeze. However, Eric is still not in the picture. I no longer watch "Dad and Chair". I am watching "The Chair".

10:12 am Sally is singing hymns in another room. I think it is "holy, holy, holy! Almighty God!" But I am not sure. I should know this, damn it, because I went to a Catholic school for six years and I just watched Midnight Mass on Netflix. Eric came back and sat down.

11:11 am The phone rang! Eric’s phone is not mine. "Hello?" he said. pause. He hung up. Obviously a telemarketer. You are welcome to still have a landline phone in 2021.

11:15 AM Speaking of mobile phones, I have established some basic rules for today's marathon. I only use my phone to take pictures, answer calls, or send text messages, not to check emails or hang out on social media. I don't read books or listen to music. I no longer struggle with the things that have been bothering me for the past month. I will focus as much as possible on the video in front of me.

I prepared lunch and dinner: three sandwiches and a thermos soup. I have a bottle of water. Deb generously provided a lot of snacks: apples, biscuits, M&M's, popcorn, etc. (Thanks, Deb!) She also provided a comfortable chair; I brought a lawn chair and a pillow, just in case. I have multiple notebooks and pens. That's it.

11:55 am The doorbell rang. "Sally!" Eric shouted. "Someone is at the door!" Off the screen, Sally answered the door. It is express delivery. She brought it into the room and revealed that it was a small nursing kit from her women's group, and occasionally gathered together on Zoom. "There is a note you can read to me," she said.

On this point: In the description of the show, Lois explained that her mother had severe visual impairment, and her father had begun to experience memory loss. These facts shrouded the scene I was watching. On the one hand, this is an old age scene, and it is also the price we paid for that era. Sally reads very hard. Eric sometimes appears cold. This is a melancholy moment. On the other hand, it is also a daily intimate scene that can develop between two people, a simple scene of humanity and good muscle memory. so cute.

Eric reads a note for his wife. Today I feel for the first time that I have broken into someone's private space. I feel like I'm peeping. I want to turn around and leave.

12:57 pm Eric closed his laptop and sighed. He got up from his chair, searched for some mail on the sofa, and walked out of the room. Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" was played on TV, just beyond the screen. Eric, I will know later, once played guitar in the Milwaukee Blues Band.

At 1:04 pm, Eric came back and turned off the TV. This is one of only two or three short periods of TV silence throughout the day. Eric left again.

At 1:10 in the afternoon, Eric returned with a sandwich. He took a bite. I followed his lead and took a bite myself.

At 1:18 pm, Eric finished the sandwich and took a bite of the apple. I took the apple from Deb's cooler and did the same thing.

1:25 pm We finished the apples.

1:45 pm I think I should answer the question that 8,000 people would not read this article: Why? Why should I watch a 14-hour video of a man sitting in a chair? I don't know, but I know I won't let myself be subject to any 14-hour video. When I read the original email from the Portrait Society ("Is this the most boring movie ever?"), I was curious that this would be a 14-hour video involving a person. If it were a 14-hour video, such as a tree, a field, or a chair without my father, I wouldn't be bothered. But the prospect of spending a whole day with another person attracted me. Of course, another person will appear on the screen, but the idea of ​​this distance also attracted me. Maybe this distance attracts me more than I want to admit. I have no idea. Maybe I just want to sit in a chair and watch TV all day.

2:03 PM "A-CHOO!!!" I took notes when Eric sneezed. It's loud, it frightens my life daylight. He sneezed again: "A-CHOO!!!" The voice echoed in the empty gallery. I have been here for five hours.

2:08 pm Sally enters the room. "I'm ready to make coupons," she said. In the next 40 minutes or so, off the screen, the couple performed another ceremony: Eric read Sally's coupons, and the two discussed this week's shopping list. They order products such as milk, vegetables, frozen pizza and Land O'Lakes butter online. "Peeled Atlantic salmon, forty-nine-five pound!" "It's been a long time since I saw such a cheap one!" Go to a typical exchange. I was riveted.

At 2:38 pm, buddy, the debate about mayonnaise and Miracle Whip is ongoing. Sally wants mayonnaise, and Eric wants Miracle Whip. "If we can afford Combos and similar things for you, we can afford mayonnaise," Sally argued. Eric finally relented, even though he thought the mayonnaise would go bad. Did I mention that I was riveted?

2:48 pm Eric walked back to the room and sat down. "Dad and the chair" continues to play.

3:07 pm Sally comes in and sits on the sofa. Eric read aloud the day’s mail, including the schedule for the upcoming Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra season. (Through the clues I have gathered throughout the day, I am pretty sure that the video was shot on December 9, 2020.) In the next hour, the couple discussed the MSO show they wanted to watch. Both agreed that the Brahms String Quartet sounds great. Both are excited about Bach's work. Neither is used for pop concerts or modern composers at all. They know their classical music. They are fully committed.

Once, Eric read about COVID safety precautions. "All patients must wear masks," he began. "Patience?" His wife interrupted him. "Oh,'Patron'," Eric said. Sally smiled to herself, and her husband continued. I laughed with her. It's like we are sharing a private joke.

At 4:07 pm, exactly half of the 14-hour video, Eric returned from a short mailbox trip. Did I mention that he went to the mailbox outside? Yes, he went outside to the mailbox and mailed a card with their MSO concert preferences written on it. "I'm home," he said. He sat back in the chair, activated his laptop, half-watching Sanford And Son's voice.

4:29 pm I was thinking about TV, about background noise, about the screen, about disappearing in my heart for a day. It’s not that difficult, is it? I wasted an entire afternoon, an entire night. Damn it, I'm doing it now.

I am thinking about childhood. I am thinking about being a parent. I'm thinking about how I succeeded in these two areas, and how I failed in both of these areas. I am thinking how happy I am that someone is with me.

4:57 PM Eric: "A-CHOO!!!" Me:

5:19 pm It is getting darker and darker outside, both on the screen and in real life. Eric got up and closed the curtains. I got up and closed my notebook. I checked the rest of the exhibition.

This is a lovely show. There are many "family studies" photos — a radiator, a tattered bible, a pack of frozen barbecue — but the real stars are photos of Loews' parents participating in daily rituals. This is her father mowing the lawn. This is her mother shoveling snow. Her father is raking leaves. Her mother hung the plastic bag she kept and cleaned. The two are doing laundry. Two people at the dinner table. The two of them are in the same living room, and I have been staring at them for more than eight hours.

These photos are accompanied by Lois’s parents’ quotes and Lois’s own childhood memories. "Part of becoming a Christian is to manage the time, talents and resources God has given us," Sally said next to the picture of her plastic bag hanging. "Winter is really a kingdom full of adventures," Lois recalled next to a photo of her father plowing a field in the driveway.

At 5:23 pm Sally enters the room and asks her husband about dinner. Sounds like they want soup? I looked at my thermos soup. Strange.

5:54 pm When Eric sat lazily in his chair, an unexplainable job change suddenly occurred. It may only skip a second or two, but it is very harsh. I realized how real this scene of meeting the family/sitting in a chair is for me today. The jumping clip is like pouring cold water, awakening me and making me realize that what I have been watching is an illusion. I suddenly felt sorry for myself. Why am i here? Why did anyone allow me to do this? Is it futile to leave everything behind and watch the video for 14 hours? Stupid? In privilege?

Is skip cutting just a glitch? Maybe not—maybe Louise deleted the embarrassing voice and made her father less humiliated. Yes, that's how it is. I'm sure. I'm glad Loyce did it. I am glad that she thought of her father. I am glad that his dignity in sitting quietly in the chair is intact. I laughed. I feel much better. I go back to the video.

6:16 pm Eric gets up and leaves the room. I need to eat.

6:37 PM Incredibly, Eric came back with some food. Bargaining chips? biscuits? Some kind of chocolate chip cookie? He chewed and laughed at the TV. I wiped off the curry mango chicken salad (thanks again, Deb) and stuffed it into my third and final sandwich.

7:07:10 hours in the evening. I have been counting everything in the picture-at this time the picture has more or less burned to my retina. One (1) dad. Three (3) chairs. One (1) sofa. Two (2) lamps. Two (2) windows. One (1) fireplace. Eleven (11) photos on the shelf above the fireplace. The built-in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace are filled with countless books.

I want to know how long it has been since no one has read those books. I want to know how old Eric was when he was sitting above the fireplace in the picture when he was young. I want to know if Louise and her brother are in the photo on the right. I want to know how old they are. I want to know the time. I want to know death. I want to know impermanence and constancy. Recently I have been cursing the latter and praying for the former. Like Lois, I am an atheist, but I have been praying.

A cleaner stopped outside the gallery door, looking at the post-it note on the glass: "Today's private visit-please do not disturb." I waved to him. He waved back, nodded, and disappeared.

7:17 PM In any police show that Eric is watching (judging by Carol O’Connor’s non-Archie Bunker voice, I think it’s in the dead of night), a woman is giving birth to twins. When the baby arrived, Eric smiled and laughed.

7:21 PM M*A*S*H.

There are other things at 8:25 in the evening. Regardless of the show, the evil smile on Eric's face made me happy when he fast-forwarded the commercial.

I haven't seen Sally for several hours at 8:39 in the evening. Where is Sally? I miss Sally. I miss my wife, her name is Sally.

It's Sally at 9:01 in the evening! She has come back! She picked up Eric's newspaper and left. Oh.

9:10 pm I was thinking about my own father. He is a little smaller than Eric, but they share more than just some classic father traits. The way they turn on the TV all day. They have the "their chair" way. My dad has sat in many chairs. Some of them eventually entered the hut of the hunting club to which he belonged. The other dads in the club have also retired their old chairs. My brother jokingly called this series of shabby lounge chairs "Stud Row". I miss my brother. I miss my dad. For the past month, I have kept my family away. I know what happened is not their fault. I know it was an accident. I don't know why I shut them out. I don't know what else to do.

Suddenly at 9:12 in the evening—just like that! ——Eric turned off the TV and jumped up from the chair. He grabbed an empty plate and walked out of the screen. Thankfully, it was only a few seconds before he came back, sat down, and turned on the TV again. I was relieved. I realized how dependent I was on Eric's existence and how anxious I was whenever he left. I have been here for 12 hours, but I am not sure if I am ready to leave.

10:05 in the evening is Sally! She has come back! again! Eric helped her get a pair of scissors, and the two discussed bedtime. We still have 1 hour and 15 minutes. Eric has been enjoying "Everyone Loves Raymond".

At 10:20 pm Eric switched the channel to a song (Elvin Bishop's "That's What I'm Talkin' About") and left the room. I'm worried again. One more hour.

10:27 pm Eric returns and turns to Andy Griffith. Or maybe Gomer Pyle. Yes, it sounds like Gomer Pyle.

10:37 pm With a loud "click", the lights outside the gallery dimmed. I was a little frightened. Eric couldn't help but sneer at Gomer Pyle's prank. Everything suddenly became strange. Time has passed 13 hours and 30 minutes, slowly slowing down.

Sally came in at 10:48 in the evening, pulled up a chair, sat in front of the TV, and started what seemed to be another ritual: brushing her teeth while watching the evening news (CBS 58). This is exactly the same as the ceremony depicted in the photo on the right side of the gallery screen:

"Every night we often watch the 10 o'clock news at 11 o'clock; this way I can fast forward the ad," Eric said next to the photo. "Sally makes up for time by flossing and applying ice to her neck while watching the news."

Loews’ headline is a bit different: “The constant noise on TV or conservative talk radio shows makes me very disgusted with these voices. This includes football. I didn’t start listening to NPR until I was in my 30s.”

I can contact. My parents-in-law also watched the evening news very late, so they can fast forward to watch commercials. I didn't grow up on conservative talk radio, but any type of talk radio will make my skin crawl. Eric and Sally watched the news without comment. Coronavirus disease. vaccine. Joe Biden. Tony Evers. weather. packing worker. Eric laughed incongruously in a story about Giannis considering the renewal of his unsigned super contract at the time. It's getting late.

11:17 pm Eric: "Are you finished?" Sally: "I think so." Oh. This is it. They are going to sleep. Am I ready to end it? Am I done yet? I think I am. But maybe not. Maybe I don't want "Dad and Chair" to end. Maybe I will be crushed. Maybe I knew this would happen, but I still did. I have no idea.

At 11:20 in the evening Eric turns off the lights. The husband and wife walked into the darkness. For a while, just before the video restarts-because of course it has to start from the beginning, over and over again, until it doesn't have it-only me.

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Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives east of Milwaukee.