The camera wheels across sparkling light as if looking at the night sky. The sound of deep breaths fills the air. After initial disorientation the viewer begins to see the sparkles are shimmering reflections of light on the snow in the dark of night. The breath? A blur of fur, a dog crosses the visual plane. The dog then disappears into the night. Then from a different direction he appears, approaches and is off again, into the dark.
What is out there? What is it we can’t see in the darkness? The dog sees things we cannot. In part because his eyes are more keenly attenuated physiologically to see in the dark but also, and importantly, because he occupies a different place. He, over there, is seeing something that we—tethered to the point of view of the camera—cannot see. This is, for me, the shocking and simple power of Per Maning’s Now You See Me. Now You Don’t.. The animal in this piece occupies a position of seeing and knowing that is inaccessible to the human. That is to say, the animal is eccentric to us. He occupies a point of view which is not ours. He enters as a silhouette into our world and our view—a small sphere of light in the darkness—but as swiftly leaves it and is at home in an unknown, dark world. Dark to whom? Primarily to us, to the curious viewer who wants to open up this darkness: wants to see and in seeing know. The lacunae in our vision is important. There is a subjectivity to the animal—an animality to the animal—that we know exists but which we cannot access. This sort of knowledge is not an absence, an omission, waiting to be present by the light (a light of human civilization). Indeed, this dog experiences the earth differently from us and so occupies a place—not just physical place but a different world with different meaning and way of being. In the video he runs with seeming intoxicating speed and we are left with glittering snow, a flurry of fur and wonder.