Ben Franklin Dreams of His Immortal Soul  (1990) – 20 min. three channel video installation

Commissioned on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Franklin’s death, the work presents a contemporary dreamscape of Franklin’s thoughts on research, invention, politics, mischief, women, electricity, and language, and was installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1991. Following are summaries of the seven episodes that run on one of the three channels:

BF Dreams of Metaphysics – 3:15
A solitary traveller moves through a river landscape. It is chaotic, electrified, metaphysical. Electrical flow is identified and analyzed and instructions are given for navigating through virtual space. A Rosicrucian metaphor is proposed.

BF Dreams of Erotic Bliss – 4:00
The erotic subtext of Poor Richard’s Almanac is blatantly announced using two pieces of rope, music by Bach, and text by Franklin.

BF Dreams an Electrical Hoax – 1:00
Plays off of Franklin’s infamous Polly Baker hoax, a cunning fraud by which Franklin argued strongly for a pro-natalist position. An inert optical toy is examined as if it were pre-conscious fetal tissue. The politics of research.

BF Dreams a New Music – 2:15
Contemporary and tribal methods of sound production are juxtaposed to suggest a transtechnological duet, a cultural concatenation, a riff. (CF. Franklin’s invention of the glass harmonica.)

BF Dreams of an Instrument of Vision – 2:00
An apparition analyzes the nature of its insubstantiality. A scientific demonstration of projection and fragmentation, split vision beyond bifocals.

BF Dreams of Revolt – 3:40
A post-electrical revolutionary enactment. An operatic manifesto presented by the electro-magnetic waves of the universe in which they renounce the agency they have provided for human objectives. A perverse fusion of Franklin’s political and electrical interventions.

BF Dreams of His Immortal Soul – 3:00
The camera rises along the suspension cables of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Ascent, omen, transfiguration, dissolution; an afterlife in language.

(read script)