Variations on Contrary Motion (Canon at the Fifth)
Suburban life in a nutshell—marriage, house, baby, meals, the child growing up and life gone awry… all told in a surreal story of metamorphosis where the miniature and the gigantic collide and engagingly set to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, (played by Glenn Gould.)
In Variations on Contrary Motion (Canon on the Fifth,) miniature objects are juxtaposed with the full-sized body or with nature. Tiny furniture within a vast, life-sized room, paper houses suspended in mid air, a tiny rotating bed that surfaces several times both as miniature and as full-sized, a music box couple stuck in repetition, the butterfly just emerged from cocoon and later in flight, baby legs dancing a jig to Bach and adult legs scaling furniture, tiny spoons and forks with an insect, a little carriage on a large pregnant belly and later another small carriage falling off a bed, the dollhouse penetrated by the full-sized adult, swing sets both real and pretend in motion… these are just a few of the images that transpire in this story of the common life in it’s various emergent and inevitable forms.
Notes on the title and the musical score:
Bach’s Goldberg Variations is an aria followed by thirty variations. The one used in this piece is the fifteenth variation. It is the turning point in the group of musical pieces, when the Canon is inverted. Within the fifteenth variation, called “Canon on the Fifth,” a technique of “contrary motion” is used, where two melodic lines move in opposite directions. At the end of this piece, the hands of the pianist move in opposite direction of one another while playing. This “contrary motion” technique is echoed in the filming technique of the sequences within the video.