Every Wandering Cloud: palimpsest, layering, collage

Every Wandering Cloud

Every Wandering Cloud
Tom Kalin
2005, 7 min, color, sound

Text: Excerpts from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Oscar Wilde (1896). Excerpt from “Letter From The Wandering Jew,” Alfred Chester. Stolen Images: “Gold Diggers of 1933-A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner” (1887). Animation: Derived from Eadweard Muybridge, “Complete Human and Animal Locomotion” (1887). Featuring: Joan Blondell, Craig Paul. Music: “Posed by Models” by Young Marble Giants. “Glass Onion” by The Beatles. “From the Hame Hill” by Brian Eno.


Tom Kalin. A Presentation of Three Films. 2009 1/6
Public open lecture for the students and faculty of the European Graduate School EGS Media and Communication Studies department program Saas-Fee Switzerland.

One of six videos in which experimental filmmaker Tom Kalin talks about his work. In this section he shows Every Wandering Cloud (2005), a sophisticated multi-layered film exploring palimpsest, layering, and collage – and  which includes Eadweard Muybridge’s work, the 1910 film A Day in The Life of the Coal Miner, Hollywood actress Joan Blondell, text from Oscar Wilde, and a complex soundtrack.

The rotoscoping of Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion sequences by animators and art students is a common theme on YouTube. This film takes such work to a new level. Kalin’s consideration of the repeating motion of pre-cinematic animations as ‘the prison of the loops’ – characters destined to be trapped in their  short life-movements forever – superimposed with text verses from Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” has an entrancing quality.

“Every Wandering Cloud is a meditation on themes of freedom and imprisonment. The tape juxtaposes an eclectic array of archival and contemporary imagery, including documentary footage and original super-8 and digital video.

By combining images from both past and present, Every Wandering Cloud creates an imaginary dialogue between the worlds of the late 19th/early 20th centuries and today. In his deceptively simple ballad, Wilde explored the profound personal and social consequences of being a prisoner. Every Wandering Cloud similarly moves between public and private worlds. Every Wandering Cloud premiered at MoMA in January 2005, part of the PREMIERES series that marked the museum’s re-opening in Manhattan.”

Watch a short sequence here. (Click on video camera next to film title.)

Tom Kalin is an artist, director and producer living in New York City. Much of his work is influenced by his early years as an AIDS activist and his participation in Gran Fury and Act Up in the 1980s, and his work has significantly changed the dialogue regarding portrayals of gay sexuality in film, literature and art. His films have won international acclaim, garnering awards in Berlin, Sundance, New York and elsewhere. His two commercial films, Swoon (1992) and Savage Grace (2007) have also won international acclaim.

Every Wandering Cloud. Kalin's lecture presentation

Kalin’s works however are not limited solely to film. Indeed, over two decades his work has investigated and probed both photography and film, literature and performance art. As a member of Gran Fury, Kalin took part, collaboratively, in the 1991 Venice Biennial and is held in the permanent collections at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and MOMA in New York. In addition to directing films, Kalin has also been known for his daring production credits, including Go Fish (1994) and I Shot Andy Warhol (1996). Kalin is professor of literature at the European Graduate School and since 1996 has been an associate professor of film at Columbia University.

Posted by Stephen Herbert

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