The Fourth Watch


16mm film (color)  9 minutes, 2000

Music:  Tom Recchion

The ancient Greeks divided the night into four sections; the last watch before morning was called the fourth watch. In the hours before dawn, an endless succession of rooms is inhabited by silent film figures occupying the flickering space in a midcentury house made of printed tin.  Their presence is at once inevitable and uncanny.  A boy turns his head in dread, a woman’s eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet that dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind ephemeral windows.  The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light.  It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls.

“A small masterpiece of the uncanny brought about through beautifully controlled use of superimposition and scale and a cross breeding of “incompatible” species of texture and (cathode –  solar) light. Glacial blue poltergeist -somnabulists, melodramatic stars and damaged children from silent films – emerge at night into a tin dollhouse opening up invisible envelopes of space, comingling with hypnoticic chiaroscura cast by trembling sunlight.”

—Mark McElhatten, Views from the Avant Garde (2000 NY Film Festival

“Of the three Janie Geiser works screened, perhaps most haunting was The Fourth Watch, in which images of people in black-and-white movies rephotographed from a video monitor are superimposed on shots of a dollhouse interior.  Bluish, spectral figures float by as sunlight mingles with flickering shadows on brightly colored tin. A beautiful somnambulist vanishing into TV bar rolls suggests a poetic metaphor for the current state of avant-garde cinema, when the medium’s past, future, and even its own death are being transformed into material for provocative new films.”

Kristin M. Jones, Film Comment review “NYFF:  Views from the Avant-   Garde”, (2000)

The Fourth Watch is the finest film to date by Los Angeles puppet and animation artist Janie Geiser.  Silent-movie actors filmed off a video monitor are superimposed on the interior of a dollhouse, their flickering images so expertly fused with the miniature rooms’ bright, solid colors that they create a fragile lost world evoking both theater and the movies.”

Fred Camper, Chicago Reader (2001)

The Fourth Watch was one of Film Comment’s Top Ten Avant-Garde Films of the Decade (2000-2010)

Selected Screening history:
Views from the Avant-Garde, New York International Film Festival (2000)
London International Film Festival (2000)
Museum of Modern Art ( 2001
Index@Post Gallery (2004)
Redcat (2005)
Sharjah Biennial (2013)

Janie GeiserThe Fourth Watch