The Wanderer

A Spirit made of pure white light roams the earth at a time-scale we can barely comprehend. What would humanity look like to a being that moves in geological time?

A glowing white figure stands on a hill as a comet blazes in the background

Eric Lerner's titular Wanderer exists at a scale beyond our comprehension. A being of pure white light, its form constantly dissipates into the surrounding air, as if something in it is too powerful to contain. It moves through the world in geological time, solemn and inscrutable, its deliberate pace a steady presence when forests rise and fall in the blink of an eye and sand dunes ripple like waves.

Lerner does a fantastic job at communicating a sense of deep time, keeping the the chaos of his natural settings on just the right side of controlled. It's a fascinating inversion of our own experience of reality. Things we see as solid and unmoving become fleeting and fluid, inviting questions around permanence and impermanence.

There's a moment where the Wanderer bends down to inspect a hut, which flickers and multiplies before exploding into a civilization, and all I could think about was how change would have to be so central to that being's view of reality. What would it use as an anchor when nothing lasts longer than a moment or two? Would it even understand the idea of an individual tree when a whole forest is as ephemeral as a dust devil?

Ori Avni's slow, plodding score paradoxically consists of an onslaught of rapid, clattering sounds, playing with ideas of speed in a way that complements the imagery perfectly. The concepts of fast and slow are somehow inverted; we know the Wanderer is impossibly slow because the world itself is moving so quickly.

On that scale, it's difficult not to wonder what humanity will mean in a universe that exists in deep time. In The Wanderer, we're a blip, a brief curiosity at best. That may not be a reassuring outlook, but it's certainly a reasonable portrayal of our time on Earth to date. Where we'll end up from here remains to be seen, but if we want to be anything more than a momentary distraction in the grand flow of eternity, we have a long way to go.

The Wanderer

dir: Eric Lerner
syn: A Spirit wanders the earth.

2021

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