Soap is an Illusion (Dirt: Part One)


Soap is an Illusion plunges the viewer into the volatility of our conflicting attractions to dirt and cleanliness. A collage of poetic imagery, music, and abstracted, incantatory language, the film follows two men in an excavation of our cultural soil. Their dialog gives rise to unexpected landscapes, populated by revengeful toasters, soap bubbles which fly on magic carpets, and other surprises. A postmodern video opera, Soap bathes the viewer in music and visual spectacle.

Entry Information
Entry Category: Experimental
Work length: 00:20:30
Country of Origin: USA

Artist Profile

Official Trailer

Director's Statement

My video work is constructed in layers.

To begin a new piece, I first videotape a completely improvised text, typically using two actors. I have been developing my technique of improvising text since 1993. I am interested in improvisation as a way of generating language directly from an actor’s intuitive discovery of what each performance is about, as it unfolds spontaneously. A subtle and intimately physical experience between two people is thus made into audible language.

For the next layer, I listen repeatedly to the text, clarifying for myself the emotional undercurrents and musical flow which formed the underlying structure of the original spontaneous performance. During this phase, I compose a musical score for the video, which clarifies this flow for the listener.

In the final phase, I listen to the text even more (now enhanced with a musical score), and gradually develop many layers of meticulously crafted digital imagery, to further clarify the emotional and musical threads which run through the improvisation. The carefully constructed nature of the images works as a counter-dynamic against the spontaneous, liquid flow of the original improvised material. Like a dream, an improvisation seems on the surface to be full of volatile, unpredictable changes, but it is actually a completely unified form of composition, in which often every line of text can be seen to be simply a new way of looking at a single, unified idea. The images and music thus help the viewer to perceive the tremendous thematic and emotional unity which underlies the seeming changeableness of the improvisation.

The full process of creating the video in three layers (text, music, images) typically takes from six to ten months.


Director: David Finkelstein

Writer(s): David Finkelstein, Ian W. Hill

Key Cast: David Finkelstein, Ian W. Hill

Music Composed by: David Finkelstein

Animation and Visual Design: David Finkelstein