Last weekend I was lucky for the opportunity to join a group of fellow parents for a tour of Matthew Barney’s studio and a preview of a couple of clips from his new film, River of Fundament. I don’t like to type “film” because Barney isn’t really a filmmaker, although virtually his entire output has been structured around films, most notably the Cremaster series. Barney is really a sculptor, in the contemporary sense in that he is inspired by research, process-intensive, and certainly highly conceptual. He is the heir of Duchamp, Beuys, and Serra. The new work has a strong operatic quality (literally, with a sung libretto). I asked if he would ever be interested in live performance, and he said no— he wouldn’t be able to get the closeups he needs. This says a lot about his filmmaking: The films are highly composed, choreographed views of sculpture and performance. They are not visual storytelling. Yes, this could be said about most “video art,” but with Barney there is enough of a narrative thread and cinematography that people often view him as a filmmaker.