Director: Joan Jonas
Year: 1972
Time: 20 mins
Music: Joan Jonas
Eye of Sound: Vertical Roll is one of those works that seem to surpass their own dimension. For decades, critics have been revisiting this classic video and, much like Persona's Alma when talking to a mute Elizabeth, finding new answers for theoretical problematics that seem to be, before anything else, of their own concern. Which is fine, of course: that's part of the critic's job. But this perhaps excessively theoretical approach has been neglecting aspects that seem vital to Vertical Roll's allure. The piece is structurally very simple: a horizontal strip, resulting from filming a TV set, punctuates transitions between frames to the sound of a hypnotically synched monotonous beat, while Jonas presents excerpts from her Organic Honey theatrical performances. These performances are all structured around the vertical roll that insistently sweeps the screen throughout the piece's 20 minutes, and are mostly framed in a spatially disruptive manner. All such performances seem to have a common theme: they all revolve around common representations of the female body and, therefore, of female sexuality when viewed from the outside, in a continuous flow that seems nauseating for both the performer and the spectator. Such vertigo, nevertheless, appears to derive not so much from the filmed performances but from the performances as they are locked in the film: indeed, the unstopping roll pushing the disjunct images upwards or downwards, synched with a minimal and almost unfloating beat that seems to cause the visual disruption, results in a mind-boggling experience that contorts perception without it being aware of the assault.


  1. Keep em coming you are doing a fantastic job here, I drop by every now and then and never cease to be fascinated by what youve got. Many many thanks

  2. Hi !
    It seems that the post is unavailable. Any chance that you could post it again...?
    Thanks a lot for this blog, it's wonderful !!

  3. Mosesman: Thanks for your kind words. If Moses tells me to keep them coming, who am I to do otherwise?

    Franck: It seems that the file was temporarily unavailable, but it's there again. Thanks for your words and stay tuned!

  4. Love the Scenes from Ostende a few posts back, the score is really good. thank you for that one. Will push your blog on mine.

  5. Thanks, Mosesman!
    I just linked your Darker blog at the Sounds column.
    Yes. Ostende is a beautiful film, ans Brackx's score is just beautiful.