Launching Okta Collective’s online exhibition and event programming for Vorspiel / transmediale & CTM 2021, we presented an online screening of
𝗝𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗧𝘄𝗼 𝗺𝗼𝗼𝗻𝘀, 42 min, USA 2018
James Benning is an independent filmmaker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Benning has been making films and installations for over 40 years and has made a considerable contribution to American experimental cinema.
Prior his REDCAT screening in 2019, Benning gave a sneak preview to the audience:
“For two moons, you see the same thing twice. But it’s not the same.”
This isn’t the first time Benning, who studied Math prior to Filmmaking, has captured a repeated phenomena. Benning’s films have included, 10 Skies, 13 Lakes, and Two Cabins, among other collections. In two moons, Benning films both a gibbous and a full moon rising. Though filmed only one night apart, the first gibbous moon rises in an initial cloudy blue and a concluding lilac twilight and the full moon rises, more directly, up through darkness.
Benning described in an email to us:
"Each night the moon on the average rises 45 minutes later than the night before. And each night the moon rises in a different place, as much as 30 degrees. The two shots were filmed from the exact same location, but the camera was pointed at slightly different angles due to the moon's shifting positions."
Though the moon, dependable, rises according to schedule, Benning’s film illuminates how the moon is constantly transformed by the nebulous environment that cradles it. Claude Monet painted, twenty five times, haystacks at different times of day and in different seasons. In Les Meules à Giverny, this constant subject, without variation, is portrayed through endless variation in its surrounding light and weather.
The moon is also an object dependent on forces outside of it, in order to rise and fall according to the mathematics described by Benning. Perhaps, now, during the time of the pandemic, this constant cycle of sun and moon rising and falling in our day to day life feels repetitious and relentless. However, cosmic relationships are no doubt more complex and fragile than they seem. We know now more than ever that cannot underestimate our interconnectedness.