TDTKs February 2014

Feb 16th

RR1 copy


James Benning USA/2005/ 16mm/ 111mins

A modern American landscape masterpiece, RR (signifying Railroad) consists of forty-three recordings of different goods trains in the USA. For two years, Benning assembled footage of trains throughout the U.S., depicting their movement through the frame of a static camera in a variety of surroundings. From start to finish, we see the steel monsters in their entirety, passing from idyllic and pristine landscapes to more populated and disfigured spaces, and finally through to the ends of the continent. The diversity of these locations corresponds in turn to a catalog of different forms of trains, speeds and shot lengths: ranging from very short to extremely long, the freight trains make their way by turns slowly or at speed, at times in the foreground or vanishing into the backdrop, through the changing scenery. Each episode brings with it an element of surprise and the unexpected: trains suddenly emerge from the vanishing point of the shot, or abruptly enter the image from the side, and each time it is the real dimension of the train that is the measure of the scene.