Presented with Light Industry as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival

David Gatten's ambitious 16-mm cycle Secret History of the Dividing Line attempts a rare feat, an investigation of the borders between word and image influenced equally by Stan Brakhage and Ludwig Wittgenstein (both veterans of related pursuits). The results are formidable: Of a planned nine, parts I through IV currently run 97 minutes, yet indeed feel like the finely constructed beginnings of a grander architecture still to come. Gatten draws from the massive library of colonial Virginia gentleman William Byrd II, with occasional dips into his daughter Evelyn's journals, producing artfully composed typographies that suss out an invisible web of connections and epiphanies. But Gatten also expresses the indigestible bulk of history's verbiage through a mobile concrete poetry. Not all his quotes allow for reading; some words flutter past too quickly to serve as more than compositional elements, while others appear in negative, close-up and grainy, like luminous alphabetic windows. Attempting to glimpse a lost world recorded through texts, Gatten offers the paper-thin screen between past and present as just one of his project's ultimately ineffable dividing lines.