James Esber

Outer Boroughs (excerpt), 2015 - 2020. This video is a fragment of a much longer film, intended to be presented as a loop, in a gallery setting. Outer Boroughs is made from GoPro footage shot while riding my bicycle throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Multi-hour rides have been edited into 5-minute segments, focusing mostly on the human presence (or glaring lack of it) along the way. Segments are paired as diptychs, and all begin and end at the front door of my home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Accompanying the film is a piano performance of Erik Saties Vexations. Written in 1893, this short but complex theme, played first simply and then with chords, was intended, as per Saties instructions, to be repeated 840 times. In my soundtrack separate iterations are synced up at beginning and end, but diverge slightly in the middle. Played in stereo, these samples create a ricochet effect, mimicking the back and forth duel between the two screens. The project seeks to form an equivalency between these endlessly mundane but beautiful cycling circuits and the grace and dignity of an individual life, my own as well as those glimpsed through brief vignettes. Filmed in the late afternoon, over several years, amid the changing architecture of outer New York and presented out-of-sequence, the project comments on the complicated nature of time, and the way we cope with it through memory

Single Ride from Outer Boroughs shot during Covid-19 Shutdown (04.06.20)