42 Saint Bernards, Out For A Walk
Presented by the original uploader (Tikki Smith, Nov 7th 2011) with the description ‘out for a walk with our 42 Saint Bernards’, this video features 42 Saint Bernard dogs (and one small boy) walking around a forest. It is my favourite internet video of all time.
In the video, the forest’s treelines are so thick that it’s impossible to get any sense of scale or distance, or any real idea of place. No skyline is visible, and a thick carpet of moss covers any groundlaying area, meaning that the majority of all visible areas are green. Anything that is not is either the brown of a tree, both standing and fallen, or a dog, all of whom are patched white and auburn. All of this is bathed in pockets of soft yellow light that must be breaking through the thicket above, unseen. The forest feels like a non-place or a mirage, the sort of surroundings that you might slip into and never escape from. The dogs, all 42 of them, walk in unending circles, clambering over the logs or each other. Their tails wag contentedly.
It seems that for them the forest offers possibility: an idea of freedom, or at least the excitement of new and unpredictable terrains, but to the viewer it can seem almost like a glitch in a videogame, the dogs looking like repeating characters endlessly spawning into a mythic space. Their breathing dominates the video’s soundtrack: the dense sound of 42 dogs panting in unison. At some point, a child is seen amongst the group. He brings a small splodge of new colours, a blur of red trousers, blue denim topped by a mop of shining blonde hair. If the dogs seem happy, by comparison he seems absolutely radiant, a resplendent presence in the video and the environment. A tiny ringleader, he bounds around his hounds, completely at ease. They accept him totally, as if he had always been there and always will be. The video ends with its ensemble still in place. The dogs continue spiralling, their small-sized leader walks amongst them. Everything is as it should be; everything is in place.
More context about the video and its origin is available, but I’ve never sought it. The video’s value is wrapped up in its inexplicability. Why search for answers when you can enjoy something for just what it is. 42 Saint Bernards, out for a walk.
– Matt Turner