Thomas Østbye renews his gaze upon things and people.
Watching, watching, watching. How often do we this? Constantly, of course, as we orientate ourselves around the world, and locate that which may serve us, be used, look pretty or meet other needs. But, merely watching? We rarely just gaze and gaze, attentive, properly, in depth, at something which not immediately means anything to us, or gives us anything. Yes, only watching a single item, something simple which just happens to be present, devoid of an explanatory context, sans an immediate usage.
Things by Thomas Østbye is a film precisely about things – what else – which provides us with a prolonged and steady gaze. Few of us probably take the time to watch like this whilst reflecting.
Things follow thing. First, we watch a stone. It is somewhat covered in moss, perhaps from a forest, tough and heavy – it is not from the mountains at least, or so I believe; surrounded by autumnal, yellow bunches of straw, and partly rounded by the weather. I can see that it is heavy, and it is as if the camera’s slight lurching (or swaying) is echoed in the stone’s discrete massiveness where it lays, and probably has been for ages. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. How many more people have looked at this stone?
I do not know, but this is what I am thinking as Thomas Østbye’s camera gazes, and I stare through it with him, along with the director and everyone else who looks at the stone with him and I. A community watchers through the medium of film. It feels good.
Stillness in motion. Next we are shown an unmade bed. Not dirty, it has merely been slept in for a couple of nights. The fabric has creased into little mounds after it has been slept in by a body, or perhaps two bodies? The more I watch, the more I project stories into what I see, the thing, into the sheets’ testament to events (sex and sleep), and I start to make things up. Is it not a couple who just woke up? Is the man preparing breakfast, as the woman fetches a newspaper whilst thinking that she would like some fresh orange juice as she lets the cat in?
None of this is evident in the items – the bed, the crumpled sheets, or even the duvets with their mismatched covers (one white, the other stripy) – but still. This is what I see when I spend a long time watching.
Standstill and movement. As I look at these things, I start to see more. People using the items, some that have been near them and shortly will return to reuse them. Or just to watch, like Thomas Østbye.
I love this honesty, this visual weightlessness, the floating images that lift my thoughts.
Later on, I see a windscreen with the rain splashing against it. I look at it from the inside, as a driver or the passenger in the front. Her we are not standing still, the car drives fast but at the same time, the thing itself – the windscreen , which is what I am looking at – standing still. The driving and the rain create the drama, the fierce movements. The surrounding dynamics pull the still windscreen into a story about bad weather and hasty transitions. All the while remaining still itself.
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