Why Do Things Get In a Muddle? (Come on Petunia)

1984, 33:09 min, color, sound

In Why Do Things Get in a Muddle?, Hill's empirical inquiry into Gregory Bateson's concept of metalogue — "a conversation about problems between people [that] mirrors the problems themselves" — employs a brilliant methodology to explore relationships between the direction of time and the order of things. A conversation between Alice in Wonderland and her father about "muddles" is constructed through the elaborate technique of reversing the characters' lines, which were originally performed backwards — a double reversal that suspends meaning in an oddly disembodied objectiveness. Mirrored by precise choreography and camera movement, this astounding presentation of a child's parable about subjective perception and its semantic paradoxes demonstrates how order is caused by — rather than causes — the interlocking linearity of language, narrative and history.

With: Kathy Hill, Charles Stein. Text: Gregory Bateson. Excerpt: "Through the Looking Glass," Lewis Carroll.