Betzy Bromberg’s films are experiential. Watching them, time becomes something that you seep into, as if to inhabit the space between the seconds. Music, light and image guide you through this new interior to an intimacy that is familiar and distant — that disconcerting feeling of pressing your eye so close to something familiar that it takes on an unknowable newness.
If this sounds abstract, that’s because it is. Bromberg’s films elude easy description. Explosive might be a good characterization. Quiet, another.
Running now until June 12, Anthology Film Archives will present the first comprehensive New York City retrospective of Bromberg’s work, all screened on 16mm. The series includes two short film programs and Bromberg’s features trilogy, with the final installment, “Glide of Transparency,” making its New York premiere. An added treat to an already rare occasion, Bromberg will attend each of the screenings.
Much like the other two features in the trilogy, “Glide of Transparency” finds its pacing through the internal structure of the film — the editing, the juxtaposition of color and image, the swell or drone of music. The film’s opening comes in like a sunrise: all red, honey dripped colors against a bed of nature sounds that progressively take on the hum of insects. Over the course of the film’s three movements, the organic gives way to ambient sounds, vocals and, eventually, acoustic instrumentation. The images that accompany the sonic landscape take on the otherworldliness of slides, an effect resulting from extreme and obscured close-ups of flora.
These two elements — image and sound — collide, pull apart, soothe and work against each other. The result is the sensation of going deep into the visual heart of music. An internal feeling, universal to all of Bromberg’s films, that lingers far past the conclusion of its on-screen journey.
Top Image: Still from "Glide of Transparency." Photo credit: Betzy Bromberg