Charles LaBelle and His Bare Chest

For two hours.

L.A. artist Charles LaBelle used Super 8 film to capture the trajectory of a red balloon as it bobbed along the side of Sunset Boulevard, buffeted and tossed about by traffic. LaBelle then projected this grainy and pixilated film onto his own bare chest and captured it in video. The two-hour loop is punctuated both by the sounds of car engines and the rhythmic cyclings of the film projector. (Occasionally you'll see the artist take a deep breath, and the image of the film, centered between his nipples, will shift and settle.) Propelled by the movement of cars, the balloon is bounced along the road, and occasionally sent onto the sidewalk by way of a strong tailwind. During this narrative, there are long moments when the balloon disappears entirely, when you're sure it's been flattened under the tires of an impatient 18-wheeler. There is no red on-screen for a full two seconds, as cars blur by, until the camera careens to find its charge once again. I wondered, did the balloon really survive all that traffic? As Scott Lawrimore explained, it's impossible to film two hours of 8 mm film (the film reels would be too big), so the work had to be, necessarily, spliced together. But the story, in the land of Hollywood, is nearly seamless. 

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