Rejecting the norm of Hollywood film: Hutton

"New York Portraits" gallery review

| January 26, 2016


Photos by Leysha Caraballo

Peter Hutton  is exactly what you would expect an artist to be: mid-length curly hair, thick rimmed glasses and self-depreciating humor. But most of all, he rejects cultural norms and sees things in ways other people usually wouldn’t. You see, Hutton is an experimental filmmaker, which is a mode of film making that re-evaluates conventions in Hollywood film and explores non-narrative forms, as well as alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working.  In the 1970s and 1980s, he started filming portraits of cities around the world.  In  silence. In  black and white.”New York Portraits” is a three-chapter piece, with each film being around 15 minutes long and being aptly named “Chapter I,” which  was filmed in 1979, “Chapter II” from 1981 and the most recent, Chapter III,” which was filmed in  1990. Hutton films America’s most famous city  and lays it out 180 degrees around you.

Hutton uses the rules of photography rather than film techniques to make his trips come to life, and he films from an aerial viewpoint, often filming the source of a sound he heard from his window, such as a group of friends playing basketball on a concrete court below him or people walking by on the sidewalk across the street.   We are left wondering what the lives of his anonymous subjects are like, and in the end you feel very small.  It is very humbling. We know New York City as the “city that never sleeps,” a loud and bustling place  where no one has time to stop, and while Hutton’s films obviously capture movement, it is very serene and calming. Even the clip of a man who appears to be passed out and the people around  him trying to help is very relaxing despite how frantic the situation must actually have been.  However, not all of the clips in the films are of frantic subjects. There are a few images, such  as clouds over that famous skyline or water going down a drain that maintain their calm facades, and even enhance them.  Who says that silent films that are in black and white have to be boring? Watching this installation is all in all very calming.

“New York Portraits” has been featured in New York’s own Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), as well as several other major museums and reputable film festivals all over the world, and now we are lucky enough to have it on our very own campus.  Take advantage of it! If you are feeling stressed, or you just want to view the composition magic that is this gallery, you  can find the installation in  the Storrs Gallery from now through  April 20, excluding Feb. 5-March 1.

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Category:Art, Arts and Entertainment

Stephanie started as a staff writer for the Niner Times in October 2015 and was promoted to assistant editor of arts and entertainment in October 2016. Her writing has focused mainly on album reviews and other musical topics, but she continues to expand her horizons. She is a junior and is double majoring in English literature and culture and German. When she is not writing articles, she is either people watching, reading, cooking, or updating her many social media profiles. If you're not sure of anything else, be sure that Stephanie is listening to music at any given time.

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Stephanie started as a staff writer for the Niner Times in October 2015 and was promoted to assistant editor of arts and entertainment in October 2016. Her writing has focused mainly on album reviews and other musical topics, but she continues to expand her horizons. She is a junior and is double majoring in English literature and culture and German. When she is not writing articles, she is either people watching, reading, cooking, or updating her many social media profiles. If you're not sure of anything else, be sure that Stephanie is listening to music at any given time.