East of Borneo – Re-aestheticized

While East of Borneo might have received mixed reviews, it spawned what might be considered on the earliest fan videos, with the subject of fascination being the rose amongst the thorns. Aptly entitled Rose Hobart, this 19-min experimental collage created by avant-garde artist Joseph Cornell can be found below.

Cornell isolated the scenes featuring Hobart and slowed them down (by projecting the film at 16 or 18 frames per second rather than the original 24 fps), tinted the print blue and accompanied the images with Brazillian musician Nestor Amaral’s Forte Allegre and Belem Bayonne. Reversing the orientalism normally attached to the non-European character, Cornell’s manipulations in fact makes Hobart the ‘Other’ and the sole subject of obsession. American film historian Janet Staiger argues:

‘Othering’ Hobart by decontextualizing her from the film and yet locating her in the jungles in which everything else is ‘other,’ Cornell’s arrangement produces a withdrawal of meaning while investing Hobart’s image with new sense and sensuality.[1]

To see the inspiration behind this seminal work of surrealist video, join us for the screening of East of Borneo on 5th June, 2013, at the NUS Museum!


[1] Janet Staiger, ‘Cabinets of Transgression: Collecting and Arranging Hollywood Images’, Particip@tions Volume 1, Issue 3 (February 2005), accessible online here

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