Peter Gidal was born in 1946 and grew up in Switzerland. After studying psychology and German literature at Brandeis University and Munich University, he started at the Royal College of Art in London. It was also here that he seriously started his film career. In the 1960s his films appeared on the New Arts Lab in Drury Lane and the London Film Maker Co-op, which he also helped establish. Peter Gidal's films belong to a formalistic and materially exploratory tradition in the experimental film, where aspects such as the granularity of photochemical film, and material durability, pace and editing structures play a central role. He has also been diligent as polemical film theorist with books such as Structural Film Anthology (1974), Materialist Film (1989) and a book about Samuel Beckett (1986). Most of his most central texts were collected in the volume Flare Out: Aesthetics 1966-2016, published by Visible Press 2016.
He has said about his film work:
The question of making things difficult for the spectator in my films is absolutely crucial and historically so, because that is where the break always comes. In the cinema, more than any other art form, the question of difficulty is always raised. With other things there are conventions: for example, it's okay to spend until two o'clock in the morning checking a difficult footnote in a book; difficult paintings are okay because you can walk past them in seconds. But film has an authoritarian structure built into its mechanism in terms of time, being held there for a period of time, which is why most film goes out of its way to avoid precisely that as an issue, whereas my work goes out of its way to raise it as one.
- Portrait Subject Object (1967)
- Still Andy (1968)
- Untitled (1978)
- Epilogue (1978)
- Kopenhagen 1930 (1977)
- Not far at all (2013)
All films are shown on 16 mm. Thanks to Lux and Visible Press.