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By David Finkelstein | July 11, 2006

This mesmerizing short is made from still and moving images of clouds. The cloud images are all presented in swirling, overlapping rectangles which fill the screen, expanding or contracting, causing the images to break apart and reform like, well, clouds. The constant movement of these rectangles, counterpoised against the movement of the clouds themselves, creates powerful kinetic sensations for the viewer: you always feel like, while watching this film, you are up in the air. Sometimes you float serenely, at other times you rush headlong into or away from a bank of clouds. O’Connell’s ambient noise score, beautiful in and of itself, perfectly complements the sensation of soaring.

The experience of seeing clouds which are constantly being formed out of the discreet units of rectangles is evocative of several things. It reminds me of the extremely regular nature of water molecules, which are the mathematical building blocks which create the flowing, everchanging forms of clouds. It reminds me, as well, of the way that human consciousness itself seems to be built up from individual micromoments of awareness.

O’Connell has a masterful way of combining images and sounds to create a powerful kinetic experience for the viewer. He has, as well, the musician’s gift for knowing how long to sustain each section of the piece, and when to introduce variety. “Clouds” is a short example of how an abstract film can take your breath away.

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