Stan Brakhage’s short film, “Stellar,” is quite the visual uncertainty. First of all, though I thought it was a technical error at first, the absence of audio in itself is a quandary. With such a strong display of brightly colored, quickly changing, mind boggling images, you’d expect or somewhat hope for some kind of explanatory sound. Something that can give you an idea of the mood of the visuals, maybe what thoughts they are supposed to suggest or what kind of story they are attempting to tell. However, all the audience gets is a non-objective showcase of colors at seizure-inducing speeds, with no words, sounds, nor vibrations, and then a humble accreditation of the creators. The simple fact that it has a title gives more input than the entire film itself.
With regard to Brakhage’s intentions, I think that the enigmatic aspects of this film are in attempts to make some kind of sardonic point. This Brakhage guy is either a total ass or he is a cinematic genius, but I truly believe that he is saying something either about our society, our simple mindedness that is so easily amused and/or distraught by this film, or lack of questioning purpose or one’s lack of requiring a personal profit from something. Why did I watch this? Why was I required to? What could it possibly be saying? What is the purpose of it’s message or lack thereof? What am I gaining from this experience? Did I just waste 2 minutes and 20 seconds of my life (longer because I watched it about 4 times)?
To be honest, I can’t quite figure out why we Visual Studies students were asked to watch this because, just beside the fact that it is a thing that exists, that someone had to create, I don’t quite understand how it relates to our common subject of creativity or making. While I understand that this project took some level of planning and brainstorming to create, I don’t think it gets it’s point across, unless the point of this film was to prove that people won’t generally understand it. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it or that it’s a “bad” piece of “art,” because in regards to the visuals, I liked the choices of colors. And in some split previews, I could see things that appeared to be parts of an image, despite how quickly my eye was having to process the information. However, all in all, I didn’t find this piece to have any purpose, but who is to say that art has to have a purpose? I’m sure plenty of people wonder and/or scoff at what I must have been thinking while creating my own works of art.