I Dreamed a Dog Was Walking a Tightrope

Jonathan Borofsky’s animated video loop I dreamed a dog was walking a tightrope presents very literally what the title insinuates: a dog walking a tightrope. Before Borofsky turned the motif into the starting point for a short animation in 1980, it had already featured as a wall drawing in his installations in various exhibitions. Standing on a meadow in front of a mountain backdrop are two high posts, connected by a taut rope, with a dog balancing between them, while overhead clouds drift by. After a couple of steps the dog folds in its forelegs and appears to get ready to kowtow, but immediately leaves this position again and retreats, transfers its weight onto its hind legs and begins to perform the very same sequence of movements again. The animal is haloed by a sparking yellow nimbus—an indication that the rope is possibly electrically charged, although this seems to have no detrimental effect on the dog’s acrobatic skills. The video is identifiable as Borofsky’s work thanks to the eye-catching sequence of seven numbers positioned in the center of the lower section. As if keeping track of how many frame settings make up the animated sequence, the numbers run from 2,671,428 through to 2,671,481 synchronously with the movements of the dog on the rope, back and forth.