defeat. | Saul Arron Applebaum.

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[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”4″]T[/su_dropcap]he visual equivalent to Earl Sweatshirt’s “Grief,” defeat has a heavy heart but still wades in a stoic pool of serenity. Created by Saul Arron Applebaum, the short series—even in its briefness—resonates with such poignancy. Applebaum explains in an open statement:


For this sequence of pictures “defeat”, I knew the time of day, the natural and artificial light, and the reflective surface well enough to stage something like pressing pause on a montage, where reflective forms/patterns translucently cover my face, bleak demeanor and defeatist acting.

Although I feel defeated quite often (as does anyone with aspiration) that day, I did not feel particularly bad. Rather, I wanted a high degree of empathy with three terse frames and one word on another type of frame, a placard or caption. Without the word I could look exhausted and not defeated. I wanted cold and calculated control of something emotive, a rhetorical device called pathos.

After posting, my Mom wrote asking if everything is okay, so I guess it worked. While the sequence forms a set of prints, one may also flip through online, like a flip-book with several missing pages.

In post-production I changed the light levels and temperature of the first frame. The transition from frame one to frame two moves from a lighter happy space to a darker sad one. I did not crop the first two frames. I cropped the third frame. Frame one to frame two jolts from light to dark (happy space/sad face to sad space/sad face), and frame two to frame three jolts from a longer to a slightly shorter distance (a crop that seems like a zoom), like the cameraman hitting a glass wall in a blooper from the perspective of a peeping Tom, or denying an intimate close shot. The jolts feign an amateur frame-by-frame animator with alignment and lighting issues (another kind of informal/formal space), allude to emotional distances, and recognize the inherent fragmentation of an apparent continuity (an illusory characteristic of moving pictures).

Saul Arron Applebaum


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