By Madeline Bocaro ©
Yoko Films: Fluxfilm no. 14: One (a.k.a. Match) 1966
4:30 min. Silent.
B&W Camera: Peter Moore. High speed camera 2000fr/sec.
Match striking fire.
Yoko’s films extend her art concepts. They are Zen in nature. Yoko is simply presenting a conceptual koan. The viewer can either be confused or totally comprehend her simple yet profound message. We learn something that can possibly change our lives, or at least our minds. We become captivated by seemingly trivial occurrences. Yoko slows everything down so that we see nothing but purity and beauty in the elusive details of life. She covers and comforts our world in a blanket of lightly falling snow.
Her 1966 Film no. 14 One (a.k.a. Match) is a realization of Yoko’s piece written in 1955, included in her book Grapefruit (published in 1964).
Light a match and watch till it goes out.
Yoko’s mesmerizing short film captures the flame as it flickers and eventually burns out. It was filmed with Peter Moore’s high-speed camera and projected at normal speed, producing a slow-motion effect when viewed. The duration of the fire signifies that life is short.
“When I was going to Sarah Lawrence, I was mainly staying in the music library and listening to Schoenberg and Webern; they thrilled me, really. And I was writing some serial works at that time. But I was lazy writing out a whole score. And further I was doing the Match Piece in those days, just lighting the match and watching until it disappeared. And I even thought that maybe there was something in me that was going to go crazy, like a pyromaniac. See, I was writing poetry and music and painting, and none of that satisfied me; I knew that the medium was wrong. Whenever I wrote a poem, they said it was too long, it was like a short story; a novel was like a short story, and a short story was like a poem. I felt that I was like a misfit in every medium.
I just stayed in Scarsdale at my parents’ home, and I was going crazy because I could not communicate with them very well. I was lighting matches, afraid of becoming a pyromaniac. But then I thought that there might be some people who needed something more than painting, poetry, and music, something I called an ‘additional act’ that you needed in life. And I was doing all that just to prevent myself from going mad, really.”
– To Jonathan Cott, Yoko Ono and Her Sixteen-Track Voice,
Rolling Stone March 18, 1971
This Fluxfilm no. 14 One (Match) clip is at 6x speed:
Yoko used high-speed filming for a slow-motion effect for several other films including the 35 seconds long Eye Blinkin 1966 (Fluxfilm no. 9 and 15). Film no. 5 (Smile, 1968) is a super slow-motion film of John’s smile). Two Virginsalso in 1968 merges faces of John and Yoko superimposed in slow motion. The soundtrack is their album of the same name.
Another slow-motion one-minute film, Freedom (1970) focuses on Yoko attempting to unclasp her bra with a minimalist droning soundtrack composed by John. The film ends before the bra is opened. Yoko had meant for it to open, but she could not rip the bra apart.
Also see: Yoko Ono’s Strange Fruit, Grapefruit
By Madeline Bocaro ©