When Hollywood wants to add a bit of drama to an explosion or a smooch, there’s nothing like a generous dollop of slow motion. It may be overused, but the very mechanics of slow motion make a lot of sense. How do you make a moment last longer? By literally making it last longer.
Street, by artist James Nares, takes slow mo’s philosophies and elevates them to high art. Roving through Manhattan at 40 mph, Nares filmed 16 hours of footage from the back of an SUV. His tool? A Phantom Flex camera, which is capable of filming not just Hollywood’s slow motion standard of 48 frames per second (fps), but a scientific-research-friendly 10,750 fps (though I don’t believe he cranked the settings that high).
The results are unbelievable. Edited down to 61 minutes with a soundtrack by Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore, a simple jaunt down an NYC street becomes a living sculpture carved from humanity itself or a spontaneous ballet in which every microsecond of movement (walking, texting, even face scratching) is graceful.
Amidst what feels like a world caught in deep introspection, in which everyone seems fraught with highly personalized inner turmoil, surreal moments dot the landscape. Mickey Mouse snaps a mimed photo, a man casually flirts with a woman resting her arm on gigantic tennis rackets.
But this is actually the world we live in. Nares just gives us the time to appreciate its nuance in full–maybe for the first time ever.
The full-hour experience of Street is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until May 27.