WAX or the discovery of television among the bees is set in Alamogordo, New Mexico (1983), where the main character, Jacob Maker, designs gun sight displays at a flight simulation factory. Jacob also keeps bees. His hives are filled with ‘Mesopotamian’ bees that he has inherited from his grandfather. Through these bees, the dead of the future begin to appear, introducing Jacob to a type of destiny that pushes him away from the normal world, enveloping him in a grotesque miasma of past and synthetic realities. The bees show Jacob the story of his grandfather’s acquisition and fatal association with the ‘Mesopotamian’ bees, in years following the First World War. The bees also lead Jacob away from his home, out to the Alamogordo desert, slowly revealing to him their synthetic/mechanical world, which exists in a darkness beyond the haze of his own thoughts. Passing through Trinity Site, birthplace of the Plutonium bomb, Jacob arrives at a gigantic cave beneath the desert. There, he enters the odd world of the bees, and fulfils his destiny. Travelling both to the past and the future, Jacob ends at Basra, Iraq, in the year 1991, where he meets a victim that he must kill.
Independently executed over six years, WAX combines compelling narrative in the realistic/fantastic vein of Thomas Pynchon or Salman Rushdie with the graphic fluidity of video technique. The result is an odd, new type of story experience, where smooth and sudden transpositions of picture and sound can nimbly follow and fuse with fantastical, suddenly changing, and often accelerated narrative. The result resembles story-telling in animated film. Yet location photography and archive research form the backbone of the piece. WAX provides an example of a new type of independent ‘electronic cinema’ that will become more common as the 1990’s progress.
- David Blair, USA