+ otherwise pictures llc


goldfish variations

2014  |  video  |  color & b/w  |  sound  |  15:30 min
Holly Fisher
Lois V Vierk


“Not being fish, how do we know their happiness?” – Zhou Dongqing (1291)

Goldfish Variations, like its companion piece Thinktank, is made from one minute of footage filmed with an iPhone in a Chinese restaurant in Berlin, reworked with 18 layers of shifting video. Music is by avant-garde composer Lois V Vierk, whose work is influenced by Japanese Gagaku music; here are layered sounds from four instruments of a string quartet. Each piece can be projected and/or looped for continuous viewing as a wall installation piece.

Thinktanka few minutes shorter, has the same music with a single cut in mid-section, and features a slippery floating text ‘hacked’ into the continuous flow of imagery, in response to current events breaking (January, 2013) as I was in the process of cutting and exploring this piece. While Goldfish Variations is purely meditative, Thinktank may spark a more edgy sort of contemplation. …


The subject of my undergraduate thesis was a long Chinese hand-scroll entitled: The Pleasures of Fishes, by Sung painter Zhou Dongqing, dated 1291. The inscription at the end of the painting, written by the artist who grew up close to a Taoist center at Mount Longhu, (Dragon Tiger Mountain), can be translated:

Not being fish, how do we know their happiness?

But we may express our feelings in our painting.

In order to probe the subtleties of the ordinary,

We must describe the indescribable.

–The Collection Online, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Expanding from the 6 tracks I used in making trio en rose, this project was cut on 18 video tracks from a single minute of iPhone footage. Continuing my penchant for recycling, Goldfish Variations was in essence my template for making thinktank, which I proceeded to hack as if an NSA spy operator.

As an exercise in perception, the two should be exhibited together but as two distinct pieces, each looped with its own darkened space and monitor.


“it works beautifully (I was going to say ‘swimmingly’)! …congratulations of the birth of another wonderful piece of cinema.”

–John Gianvito, filmmaker, professor

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