Experimental Film Club: Of Ruins and Light
Friday September 21st 2012, 21h
Coal Quay carpark Culture Night, Cork.
This programme of 16mm experimental film works is curated by Esperanza Collado and Aoife Desmond of the Experimental Film Club, Dublin. Their chosen films present expanded representations of time and space; from the earthly to the celestial, from the transience of man's structures on earth, to the vastness of the universe.
- Scotch Tape (Jack Smith, USA, 1959-1962, 3 minutes, B&W, Sound (optical), 16mm)
- The End (Patrick Keiller, 18 min, 16mm, B&W, sound (optical), 1986)
- Stellar (Stan Brakhage, 3 min, Colour, Silent, 16mm, 1993)
- Origin Of Species (Ben Rivers, 16 minutes, Colour, Sound (Optical), 16mm, UK, 2008)
- Redshift (Emily Richardson, 4 min, 16mm, colour, sound, 2001)
- The Cup And The Lip (Warren Sonbert, 20 mins., 16mm, colour, sound, 1986)
- Observando El Cielo (Jeanne Liotta, 19 mins, 16mm, colour, sound, 2007)
- Transit Of Venus (Nicky Hamlyn, 2 Min, 16Mm, B&W, Silent, 2005)Programme notes:
Scotch Tape (Jack Smith, USA, 1959-1962, 3 minutes, B&W, Sound (optical), 16mm)
Jack Smith’s first released movie is an apparently edited-in-camera 100-foot roll of Kodachrome II shot in 1959, using Ken Jacob’s 16mm Bell & Howell at one of Jacob’s Star Spangled to Death locations – the rubble-strewn site of the future Lincoln Center on Manhattan’s west side. Despite its brevity, anticipates the epic quality of Smith’s subsequent films and theater pieces. The alternation of long shots and close-ups suggests considerable elapsed time between each set-up. Jacobs, who appears in the film, frantically dancing and mugging along with another Star Spangled to Death performer Jerry Sims, proposed that Smith call his film “Reveling in the Dumps” and even drew titles. Instead, Smith chose to name his movie after the dirty piece of stickum that had wedged out in the upper right corner of the frame. For a three-minute film, carries considerable conceptual weight. The title anticipates Andy Warhol’s go-with-the-flow acceptance of cinematic “mistakes”, even as it draws the viewer’s attention to the perceptual tension between the film’s actual surface and its represented depth. Scotch Tape’s audio accompaniment was created, some three years rhumba, “Carinhoso,” to match the footage. The resultant sync event, Conrad recalled, had a decisive effect on his own life, inspiring him to become a filmmaker. Flaming Creatures aside, Scotch Tape would be Smith’s only completed film – placed n distribution with the Film-Makers’ Cooperative in 1962 and subsequently included in Anthology Film Archives’ Essential Cinema. (J. Hoberman)
The End (Patrick Keiller, 18 min, 16mm, B&W, sound (optical), 1986)
"Ex-architect Patrick Keiller brings a graphic and compositional sense of landscape to this complex essay film following a conceited modern-day flaneur who conjects ruminatively over images of a curiously ill-defined European landscape. From within these images of construction, roadways and the never-ending to-ing and fro-ing of Europe's numerous train stations, can be glimpsed the visage of the old Europe, defined by borders, varied cultures and a distinct sense of place. At one point the camera lingers accusingly upon the dated futuristic symbol of the 1958 Brussels' World Fair.
Keiller's film is book-ended by two extraordinary images echoing Europe's past. In the opening sequence a boat rocks plaintively away from the white cliffs of southern England, furnishing us with a longing look, graphically similar but not afforded to the steely-eyed emigrants of Ford Madox Brown's epochal mid-nineteenth century painting 'The Last of England'.(1) In the last images the decaying footage of a group of tourists assembled in the Piazza Navona is looped, slowed down and scored by Brahms melancholy 'setting' for Goethe's 'Winter Journey over the Harz Mountains'. These odd, layered, extremely moving moments seem to almost stand in for the feeling of loss, displacement and restlessness evoked by Keiller's less than celebratory gaze upon the landscape, both physical and mental, thrown up by contemporary Europe." - Adrian Danks
Stellar (Stan Brakhage, 3 min, Colour, Silent, 16mm, 1993)
'This is a hand-painted film which has been photographically step-printed to achieve various effects of brief fades and fluidity-of-motion, and makes partial use of painted frames in repetition (for 'close-ups' of textures). The tone of the film is primarily dark blue, and the paint is composed (and re-photographed microscopically) to suggest galactic forms in a space of stars.' - S.B.
Origin Of Species (Ben Rivers, 16 minutes, Colour, Sound (Optical), 16mm, UK, 2008)
A film begun as a portrait of S, a 75 year old man living in a remote part of Inverness-shire. S has been obsessed with Darwin's works for much of his life. Since a child he has wondered at life on Earth and, though he never became an academic, found in Darwin many answers to his questions. The film images concentrate on the mysterious geography of his world; his garden - from the microcosmic to the grand; the contraptions and inventions he's made; his isolated patch of land where he has built his house after a life of travelling and working around the world. The soundtrack has S heard discussing his take on life on Earth and humans place upon it. The film attempts to span from the beginnings of the world up to an uncertain future.
Redshift (Emily Richardson, 4 min, 16mm, colour, sound, 2001)
In astronomical terminology redshift is a term used in calculating the distance of stars from the earth, hence determining their age. Redshift attempts to show the huge geometry of the night sky and give an altered perspective of the landscape, using long exposures, fixed camera positions, long shots and timelapse animation techniques to reveal aspects of the night that are invisible to the naked eye. It takes these formal concerns into an emotional realm and uses the figurative to express philosophical ideas about our relationship to the world.
The film has a gentle intensity to it, and is composed of changes of light across the sea, sky and mountains. It shows movement where there is apparent stillness, whether in the formation of weather patterns, movement of stars, the illumination of a building by passing car headlights or boats darting back and forth across the sea's horizon. The sound has been composed for the film by Ben Drew, taking field recordings of the aurora borealis as a starting point, and using purely computer generated sound to create a soundtrack that reflects the unheard elements present in the Earth's atmosphere.
The Cup And The Lip (Warren Sonbert, 20 mins., 16mm, colour, sound, 1986)
'Sonbert's work is a series of colourful montages of people, places and things. Simplicity marks their matter-of-fact presentation of easily readable images, yet they show an enormous amount of editorial wit and sophistication.' - Tate Gallery Programme June 1988.
Observando El Cielo (Jeanne Liotta, 19 mins, 16mm, colour, sound, 2007)
Seven years of celestial field recordings gathered from the chaos of the cosmos and inscribed onto 16mm film from various locations upon this turning tripod Earth. This work is neither a metaphor nor a symbol, but is feeling towards a fact in the mist of perception, which time flows through. Natural VLF radio recordings of the magnetosphere in action allow the universe to speak for itself. The Sublime is Now. Amor Fati!
Transit Of Venus (Nicky Hamlyn, 2 min, 16mm, B&W, Silent, 2005)
The Transit of Venus is composed of two consecutive, partial, time-lapse records of the Transit of Venus, when Venus passed across the Sun on June 8th 2004. Transits of Venus are rare and currently occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits 8 years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Before 2004 the last pair of transits of Venus were in December 1874 and December 1882. The second of the current pair will be on June 6th, 2012. Although the film was shot with a very small aperture, reduced shutter opening and several layers of neutral density filter, resulting in a black sky, the sun nevertheless remains contrastingly dazzling, and Venus, consequently, is obliterated. These two short sequences are contextualized with data detailing the various technical parameters which determine the peculiarity of the image.
[This programme has been made possible by the Arts Office of Cork City Council. Special thanks to Stephen McGlynn for making this happen, LUX UK (distributor of most films), and Jeanne Liotta, whose help has been instrumental. Thanks to Gloria Vilches, for her recommendations, and both Nicky Hamlyn and Ben Rivers for helping out with valuable information about their films].