Jay Rosenblatt is a digger, an archive-driven artist who burrows his themes into a collaged continuum of found images. The results are oddly affecting, if often short of profound: Rosenblatt experiments with cinematic theories like the Kuleshov Effect—which asserts the power of image sequencing in eliciting emotional response—in his effort to infuse orphaned, unrelated images with meaning. For the title film of the compilation Darkness of Day, Rosenblatt culled images from a school’s trashed 16mm film library and used them to make a 26-minute freestyle meditation on suicide. Enigmatic intertitles piece out information that is both personal (Rosenblatt’s cheerful massage therapist killed herself shortly after their last appointment) and expansive (mentioning an outbreak of suicidal volcano-jumping in Japan and the tragedies of the Golden Gate Bridge). More prominently personal is Phantom Limb, in which Rosenblatt combines an exploration of his grief over the childhood death of his brother and a visual ode to the transience of all things. Three other, shorter films are included in this showcase, including a gallows-friendly reading of Jeanne Marie Beaumont’s poem “Afraid So” by Garrison Keillor, and a strange and bewitching look at the life of Anita Bryant.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2010