Have A Nice Day Alone

2002, 6:52 min, b&w, sound

Writes Thomas Zummer: "Elusive and compelling, Have a Nice Day Alone is surpassingly strange, even for Leslie Thornton, an acknowledged genius of the unexpected. The entire spatial field of the film is activated by a technological nervous twitch, a bizarrely beautiful and hypnotic pulsing. The image shrinks, flows, collapses, seeming to follow some strange and hidden agenda. There is a text about speech on screen, visible through the pulse. In the background, extreme forms of vocalization, yodeling and macabre laughter punctuate the visual space. As the image flutters, a robotic voice speaks about various conditions of speech. Language is dislocated.It is unclear whether the voice mimics or generates the text.

Finally a small child emerges and calms down the mechano-morphic entity. The mode of address shifts from the position of a voiceover to that of a subject or character within the film, as the child interrogates the voice. No longer authoritative and exterior, the voice is engaged within the mis-en-scene, interacting with the child, and then withdraws into an almost reflective repose, talking to itself. It is a palpable experience of an artificial intelligence, one that is both complicit with us and utterly alien.

Given its dark tone, Have A Nice Day Alone ends on a unexpectedly positive note. Perhaps her most visceral work to date, the piece is as unnerving as it is fascinating to watch, extending Thornton's interest in the vicissitudes of language and narrative into what feels like an entirely new form of discovery. ...Thornton's newest work sings like it doesn't have any conception of music — like it's the very first song."

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