© Laurie SIMMONS

The Music of Regret

ArtistLaurie SIMMONS
Material/ Technique35mm film (transferred to HD CAM)
Size/ Duration44 min. 14 sec.
Copyright Notice© Laurie SIMMONS
Year of acquisition/ donation2007
DescriptionBorn in Far Rockaway, USA in 1949. Lives and works in New York.

Since the 1970s, Laurie Simmons has produced photographic works in which toys, ventriloquists’ dummies and other objects are placed in dolls houses and against various backgrounds and exquisitely lit to create an imaginary world. She has projected onto artificial stages scenes that cannot be realized in real life. These photographs form series that adopt a narrative style in which after one series concludes, the next series commences. Using such motifs as dolls and houses, Simmons depicts at an everyday level the chaotic state of contemporary society.

"The Music of Regret" is Simmons’ first film, made using the objects and dolls familiar from her photographic works from the 1970s and beyond. It takes the form of a musical in three acts: ‘Green Tie,’ featuring puppets; ‘The Music of Regret,’ featuring ventriloquists’ dummies; and ‘Audition,’ featuring dolls from the “Walking Objects” series. The only human actor in the film is Meryl STREEP, who plays the part of Simmons opposite a number of ventriloquists’ dummies in a scene in which she reminisces about past love affairs. The chorus beginning with the lines ‘Would’a, should’a, could’a…’ and the crooning voices singing comical and melodramatic tunes, give expression to the subtleties of the genuine feelings of regret and desire we usually hide as we go about our day-today lives, portrayed melodramatically, full of vivid colors yet at the same time charged with pathos. Simmons was responsible for the stage design, screenplay and lyrics. The film makes full use of analog and digital techniques in the image processing of the complex relationship between the dolls and the backdrops and in the use of the same lighting methods when filming using actual people as those used when filming the dolls and the miniature sets.