Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, a short film by Frank Heath with music by Cory Smythe
Soundtracked by “Combustion 2” from the Cory Smythe album Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (2022), this video was assembled exclusively from film and television programs that feature the eponymous 1933 song written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach. From Judy Garland to Jerry Garcia, Mad Men to The Muppets, the composition has appeared ubiquitous for nearly a century, haunted by spirits of reincarnation. This case file of disparate specimens spanning across time and genre, linked only by their shared relationship to the song, was collected and processed through an imagined crime lab computer.. Sources were mined for correspondences, scanned for needles in the haystack, and “enhanced”. In some areas, sections of the file erroneous to the song have become ensnared along the way, drawn out from themes articulated in Smythe’s music. The resulting montage reveals a chilling and surreal image of retrospective foreshadowing: despite our best efforts, kindling from the dawn of industrial mass production has now grown into a raging inferno. The world burns wildly out of control and yet the party goes on. Entire cities are consumed by malaise, panic, and Dionysian abandonment. What may be the last gasp of civilization is reflected through an archival hall of mirrors until the disco ball crashes to the floor, exploding in flames.
After an operatic crescendo, in the final minute of the video, we enter a serene epilogue. The music evokes smoldering ruins and deathly high-pitched squeals as we see images of empty landscapes: verdant, peaceful, and drenched in warm sunlight. How much time has passed? Looking closer we can see traces of a crude redaction, rippling textures in the surface of the image similar to the cloaking effect used in Predator (1987). Artifacts generated by software that was used to track and erase the human figures in each shot, some executed more successfully than others. Traces of these figures remain as distorted clones moving stealthily through the landscape, simultaneously camouflaged from view and irrecoverably erased.
Frank Heath, Brooklyn, NY 06/23
Directed/Edited by Frank Heath
Produced by David Breskin
“Combustion 2” from the album Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Cory Smythe appears courtesy of the artist and Pyroclastic Records
Composition by Cory Smythe, Pluripotent Publishing (BMI)
This work was made possible by support from The Shifting Foundation.
Cory Smythe, David Breskin, Chelsea Hadley, and The Shifting Foundation.
Released December 2, 2022
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Cory Smythe is available via Pyroclastic Records
Sofia Jernberg voice
Joshua Modney violin
Tomeka Reid cello
Peter Evans trumpet
Zekkereya El-magharbel trombone
Ryan Muncy alto saxophone
Ingrid Laubrock tenor saxophone
David Leon alto and baritone saxophones, clarinet
Jessie Cox drums and percussion
Stephan Crump acoustic bass
Cory Smythe piano
Produced by David Breskin and Cory Smythe
Recorded and mixed by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Additional recording by Markus Jägerstedt at Rotwang Studios AB, Stockholm, Sweden
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, Peekskill, NY