Critic J. Hoberman has described Ernie Gehr as "cinema's virtuoso minimalist," and Side/Walk/Shuttle is compelling evidence of this claim. As Gehr recalls, "The initial inspiration for the film was an outdoor glass elevator and the visual, spatial, and gravitational possibilities it presented me with. The work was also informed by an interest in panoramas, the urban landscape, as well as the topography of San Francisco. Finally, the shape and character of the work was tempered by reflections upon a lifetime of displacement, moving from place to place and haunted by recurring memories of other places I once passed through." The film consists of twenty–five moving shots, most less than ninety seconds in length and all taken from within the glass elevator of San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel. The city swoops and tilts before our eyes, making the viewer question the very laws of gravity. Indeed, the sense of wonder Gehr creates and the giddy pleasure he conveys through the simple visual manipulation of the physical world make him a natural successor to the world's first filmmakers, artists who invented a "cinema of attractions" that was grounded in the wonder and sensuality of the filmgoing experience itself.
Publication excerpt from In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of The Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 321.