There once was a man who came out of the Highlands, wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes. . . very, very slowly. His name was Gordon.
He told everyone he had been to the movies. But people were suspicious. They thought he had only seen them on TV. Why? Because the movies were very, very old. In black and white. Grainy, even. Pause. . . snore. . . drop.
One of the movies which Gordon saw was Psycho, a Ď50s-era thriller starring Janet Leigh and Tony Perkins. Some say Gordon looked like Tony. Some say he screamed like Janet. A primal scream of slow, unwinding desperation, that was strangely silent, just like Douglas.
Tony Perkins died of AIDS. Douglas Gordon still appears to be alive, although he's breathing very slowly.
Do you know what entropy is? Douglas knows, and he wants to show you, at the Museum of Modern Art. Perhaps you've heard of it. . . the Museum of Modern Art, formerly, and once again, the museum of very old black-and-white films, with nuns and shrinks and other antiquated things, appropriated by Douglas Gordon, the Scot with the ordinary name, with the black-and-white kilt who plays the bagpipes.
Are you getting sleepy? Does a semi-ecstatic nun, played by a long forgotten actress whose husband Norton Simon was one of the world's biggest collectors, on a thin screen in the old films department of the Museum of Modern Art, turn you on? Can Douglas Gordon be turned on, or is his soul, and ours, set only to "OFF"?
Douglas Gordon once slowed down John Ford's film The Searchers frame by frame for a couple of years. It's not in the MoMA show, or maybe it is, maybe it's so slow, that it's become invisible. Just like Douglas Gordon, and everyone else, will some day disappear. Aren't you glad that Douglas found this out for us? Or to quote another film which Douglas saw all by himself, and appropriated, and is not in this show, and will some day disappear, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me. . . ."
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).