David Lynch has embraced visual art and the possibilities of the new music industry. With Pina, Wim Wenders made one of the most acclaimed works in the latest, superhero-filled wave of 3D movies. Jean-Luc Godard… well, I couldn’t quite tell you what he has got up to with his latest picture, but it sounds conceptually and technologically forward-looking indeed. Clearly, some of the creators best suited for the new cinematic reality in which we find ourselves also happen to have already logged decades and decades in the craft. Werner Herzog, director of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, another one of the few recent 3D movies you still hear people talking about, has executed his latest project not in the theater, but in a museum, and not as a traditional film, but as a five-channel video installation.
Hearsay of the Soul will run at the Getty Center, a particularly well-known museum overlooking Los Angeles — Herzog’s city of residence and my own — from July 23 to January 19. In it, Herzog combines landscape etchings by Dutch Golden Age master printmaker and Rembrandt-influencer Hercules Segers with music from two of Segers’ modern countrymen, cellist Ernst Reijseger and organist Harmen Fraanje. (Herzog aficionados will, in fact, recognize Reijseger’s work from the score of Cave of Forgotten Dreams.) “They are like flashlights held in our uncertain hands,” Herzzog says of Segers’ images, “a frightened light that opens breaches into the recesses of a place that seems somewhat known to us: our selves. We morph with these images. Hercules Segers’s images and my films do not speak to each other, but for a brief moment, I hope, they might dance with each other.” You can glimpse a few of the installation’s images and hear a few of its sounds just above.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.