Beyond Words

Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s work is sublime, sublime in the way the word was used in the 19th century to describe a point of view that shimmers with both awe and terror at the natural world. His documentary films are visceral, immersive, and intimate investigations. There’s no guide whispering a readymade voice-over into your ear. Open to the experience and you hear, feel, see, practically touch and taste a revelatory sense of freedom and the empathy of direct attention. 
Adjectives? Minimalist and lush, spectacular and ocular, subjective and untamed. Beautiful, too, whether you’re watching a panoramic round up or the abstraction of phosphorescent seafoam.
Castaing-Taylor’s projects - including the feature-length Sweetgrass, with Ilisa Barbash; with Véréna Paravel, the recently released Leviathan - are often collaboratively made. While continuing to film, he and Paravel have begun exploring alternate mediations that include installations with still video and video loop projections. A film frame might be grabbed and frozen and thrown large on the wall, or screened at 1/50 of the speed at which it was originally recorded.
Here, instead of text and video interviews, we’ve imagined another use the space. Picture walking into a studio and encountering notes pinned on a bulletin board. Consider that together they might offer a world view.


 “If I could say in words what I thought the work was, I wouldn't bother making it."
LCT, email communication to Irene Borger


"If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors, plates of food and of excrement…A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point." 


“I don’t trust anything I say about the film.”

LCT, from interview with Scott MacDonald on Sweetgrass


“What makes film so captivating is that it is something other, or more, than just language.”  
LCT, Iconophobia, in Transition, issue 69

 “You feel images before you see them. The visible is just a membrane for everything else. It's just a skin wherein everything lies: the physical, the emotional. You work through the visible.” 



The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
That I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
in the ponds broken off from the sky
my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes. 
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly

“Film can no more be transposed wholesale into text than poetry can be transposed into prose.” 
LCT, Iconophobia, in Transition, issue 69

“Real intimacy is never really expressed through language anyway.” LCT in conversation with Anya Jaremko-Greenwold 

“More than any other medium of human communication, the moving picture makes itself sensuously and sensibly manifest as the expression of experience by experience.” 
Vivian Sobchack, The Address of the Eye

“I know in my case, and I’d guess also for many working in so-called film or video art, the motivating factor is a desire to get more from your audience, a deeper and a different kind of spectatorial attention to the work—one, for me at least, less attuned to narrative chains of meaning than to sheer manifestations of being, and to forms of figural expressivity that are more ambiguous and opaque than narrative’s proclivity to discursive clarity usually allows. I don’t think art is usually apprehended with the same desire to circumscribe meaning.”
LCT, in conversation with Scott MacDonald

“In the immediate world, everything is to be discerned…with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself as a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is.”
James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men



Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Sweetgrass (excerpt, Je est un autre), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009.
Sweetgrass (excerpt, Lullaby), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009.
Hell Roaring Creek (excerpt), 2010.
Coom Biddy (full), 2012.
Leviathan Excerpt, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, July 2012.
Leviathan ( excerpt, Stranded Great Shearwater), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 2012.
Leviathan (excerpt, Fish Cutting), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 2012.