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Room Tone 2023

Features

Dec 25, 2023

Back in December 2020, I had an idea that it would be fun to celebrate the end of the year by gathering fragments of “room tone”—the ambient sound that our crew records at the end of all our on-camera interviews—as a way of looking back at the artists, critics, and scholars we’ve recently worked with. Since then, these videos have become a tradition for us.

For this year’s installment, I took inspiration from the ending of Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria. In that film’s final scene, Giulietta Masina doesn’t utter a single word, but her elastic face travels across almost the entire spectrum of human emotion. Right before the movie fades to black, she quickly but intentionally glances directly into the camera in a gesture of reassurance, to herself and to the audience. Her look tells us ma la vita continua (but life goes on), which is the title of the Nino Rota composition that accompanies the scene as well as my video for this year.

In this climactic moment of cinematic reflexivity, Fellini celebrates the expressive capacities of the human face and acknowledges the camera that captures it. I try to bring the same spirit to our ongoing Room Tone project, highlighting quiet moments of interaction and contemplation while giving thanks to our many collaborators both in front of and behind the lens.

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