Carl E. Brown (b.Toronto, 1959) is a canadian filmmaker, photographer and writer. After two years at the University of Toronto where he studied philosophy and psychology, he decided to study filmmaking, completed in 1982 at Sheridan College. He's completed nearly twenty films which have been screened in many festivals in America, Europe and Asia, and were part of the retrospective Experience chromatiques le cinema contemporain at the Louvre in 1995.
To plasticize the films, Carl Brown reinvented the procedures and tools of cinema itself. By pulling (drawing), the gauging and the drying of the surface Brown begins. This chromatic material is the toner that he spreads over the film so as to leave a trace of arm movements, then works with the help of two principal procedures, the Sabattier effect, being the double development with inversion of optic values, and the plaiting, being a doubling of gelatin, caused by the difference in temperature between fixing solutions. With those techniques of pure chromatic mounting (setting) which through folds, fractures and the explosion registers the conversion work which is the development at the heart of the colour itself, Carl Brown exalts what he calls the 'depravity of toner.' ... CONDENSATION OF SENSATION as other Carl Brown films (RE:ENTRY, 1990; AIR CRIES, 'EMPTY WATER,' 1995) respect a form of classic narrative, the one of the voyage: its exploratory progression leads from one identifiable type image (the negative for example) to an absolutely frantic nameless chromatic; the colours stacked one upon the other, declining by themselves, have no longer names, colours, connections, nor even describable motion. Carl Brown, bringing up in his own way the Eisenstein project, describes this enterprise as 'opening up the screen.' However, it is less a question of animating a surface by imaginatively opening it from the outside then covering and recovering it so that each colour coat, itself mixed and complex, falls on the previous one without being annulled or replaced: it superposes itself so dense and opaque that the colour seems to suffocate its own light in a convulsive way. By investing the unedited links to fertilize the possible relationships between coats and undercoats, between analogue planning and all over abstract, between unstringing accumulations. Through wafering and leafing, Carl Brown commutes the film's density into depth ...' - from an essay, 'Experience chromatiques le cinema contemporain' by Nicole Brenez, presented at the Louvre, Paris, France in October, 1995
'Carl Brown’s business card does not say filmmaker or even experimental filmmaker. It reads 'visual alchemist.' Brown chemically treats the film’s surface even as he is developing it—a literal and physical deconstruction of the image—and mixes his own toners to create brilliantly vibrant colours which are meticulously added to the image. This is a technique that Carl has mastered over 15 years. It may seem that such a labour-intensive process would dominate the film, becoming its focal point, but Carl is not manipulating the film’s surface as a means unto itself. He is stripping away the representational properties of the image in order to rebuild it according to a more abstract truth already present within the image—a truth based on either visceral qualities or emotional realities. From the moment the image is developed, through to the editing process, this is the principle upon which the film is constructed. Carl’s technique does not obscure the image presented but reveals another layer one informing our view of the other. And where else but in the traditional documentary does the argument for the representational nature of the photographic image reside?' - (Barbara Goslawski)