Luke Smithers is a fine art filmmaker. His pieces incorporate post-modern dance within the form of the tableau vivant. He is interested in physical theater and the surprises that come in asking a group of strangers to touch before they have spoken. The narrative lines in his work are implicit, born out of nuances of movement. While his films are of an absurdist bent, emotional truths ebb beneath. Estrangement seems the defining characteristic of the current epoch and he sees his films as recasting the quotidian anew and positing attention as a form of care and devotion.
A thing is beautiful when it is close to dying. Youth is beautiful precisely because we know the body will be unblemished only for so long, just as a firework is beautiful because it is given just one wild display before fizzling back into nothing. It is as if Beauty were a call to embrace the world before it slips away. The fragility essential to any beautiful thing awakens us to the givenness of these things. So brief is Beauty’s dazzle that we can only ever probe the surface of the body or the sky to see from which seam such a miraculous thing could burst forth.Western society has made the aging body into something to revile. What if we reconceive of the aging body as akin to the brightness of leaves before their fall? Just as we esteem leaves’s brilliant displays of color at the end of their lives, so we should celebrate the aging human body as emblematic of the ecstasy in homecoming.
The emotional wasteland of corporate America serves as the backdrop to Adam and Adam’s tryst. The questions at the root of “American Disciples” when our meeting places are no longer forests and savannas but McDonald’s and Walmart, where can we admit how much we would like to touch and be touched? Where do two worlds dare
meet in the open light of day to embark on a myth even Venus would envy? “American Disciples” was born out of the great depravity of public spaces in modern, secularized life where we can openly plumb the depths of each other’s inner worlds. In this age of science, in believing only in that which can be seen with the naked eye, we have devalued the imagination. Gone is the esteem for the one faculty that holds out the possibility for
adventure and discovery that every human face first invites.