Dallas Video Fest Expanded Cinema is a 23-Story-Tall Sight to Behold

In 7 Minutes

The sun slowly sets behind the Trinity River levee as an urban tumbleweed (in the form of a plastic bag) blows across Riverfront Boulevard. Cars stream past Hickory House BBQ, under the Houston Street Viaduct, and onto the outsized parking lot-slash-gravel pit1 next door. But, while I’m sure that Hickory House has wonderful barbecue, that’s not why I’m here.

The scores of visitors and I have assembled here, under a billboard in this figurative no-man’s-land between Interstate 35 and the banks of the river, to watch films — not just any films, but ones created specifically for the twenty-three-story-tall walls of the Omni Hotel. If you’ve driven through or into downtown Dallas in the last few years you probably know the Omni as ‘that building with the cool glowing walls.’ On any normal day it’s a landmark, but today it’s hosting the main attraction. I’m talking about the Dallas Video Fest Expanded Cinema.

As we in the expectant crowd (and the frustrated drivers backed up on the lanes of the interstate) watched, the image on the walls of the building began to count down. 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes… Then it began! Photos don’t do it justice, but that’s all there is; one-night-only events are unforgiving in that sense. So enjoy, and read a little description below the images and one short video.

Swimming

Swimming

Goats

Sound Waves

Face

Video by David Bacon:

Though there were a few warnings that the sound and picture might not be perfectly synced2, the videos flowed without trouble. There was an odd mashup of western landscapes and classic cowboy film stars, appropriately titled Glass Valley (or, does this building make my butte look big?)3; a simple silhouette of farm animals with a narrative about living and working on a farm; some cool ambient ocean waves; a monologue with accompanying video of a silhouette walking through a door-lined hallway (very Lynch-ian in appearance and affect); a series of squared sound waves tracking along with the music; a few others that defy explanation; and the highlight of the evening, in my opinion: giant people swimming across the surface of the hotel.

Then, almost as soon as it had begun and following incidental fireworks celebrating the reopening of the Reunion Tower observation deck, the magnetic pull of Dallas’ giant night-light broke and the crowd slowly dispersed back into the dark of night.

Notes:

  1. This place perfectly encapsulates the ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ tagline: the huge empty lot, towering Houston and Jefferson Street Viaducts, enormous lumbering Dallas skyline in the distance, and the large mound of the levee behind with the vast expanse of seemingly nothing that surrounds the setting sun.
  2. Apparently the atomic clock they were using to sync the start time of the audio and video was down because of the federal government shutdown. What a fascinating modern world we live in!
  3. I have an unbreakable rule that each of my posts must include a terrible pun.