Originally a student of the abstract expressionist painters, Stan Brakhage has steadily completed over 200 films in a forty year period. Considered a master in avant-garde circles, his theory of representing \"Closed-eye vision\" in film has led him to thAll selections silent includes texts by Brakhage
Originally a student of the abstract expressionist painters, Stan Brakhage has steadily completed over 200 films in a forty year period. Considered a master in avant-garde circles, his theory of representing "Closed-eye vision" in film has led him to these recent hand-painted works, a visual tour de force.
"Stan Brakhage stands out as one of the strongest and most influential makers of the subjectively personal film. So well-knit and ultimately so rich are Brakhage's films that there is no need for sound. The density of images is such that sound would pollute sight. Brakhage's poetry is really the pure experience of vision." Stephen Dwoskin
"Brakhage has produced a body of silent work of fragile beauty that directly addresses our need for an intense, tender and prayerful cinema, a poetic exploration near the pinpoint of mind where light, spirit and body come upon one another. The power of these works come from an astute presence of mind. Plasticity of cinema is the main character, the tensions those of music and painting. Surface, color, rhythm and image become in themselves the purity of our experience. We are not witnessing mere avant-gardism, but whole-hearted expressions of being." Nathaniel Dorsky
- NIGHT MUSIC 1986, 0'30" This little film (originally painted on IMAX) attempts to capture the beauty of sadness, as the eyes have it when closed in meditation on sorrow. "A work of hand-painted 'moving visual thinking'; colors and forms coursing, flowing, bursting, as if of fire and water - of the earth, of the body, of the mind." - M.B.
- AUTUMNAL 1993, 5' This is a film composed of two elements: (1) simple hand-painted frames and brief strips of hand-painting, and (2) strips of blank colors, which appear as overall hues or color tones filtering light itself rather than any pictured scenes. These two elements are interposed in editing so as to suggest the seasonal changes of tree-leaf (from greens to golds, reds and browns) and the sky (from varieties of warm-to-cold blues).
- STUDY IN COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE 1993, 2'30" The title is almost the whole of any possible description of this hand-painted and photographically step-printed film which exhibits variably shaped small areas of color (in a dark field) which explode into full frames of textured color interwoven with white scratch patterns that create a considerable sense of interior depth and three-dimensional movement.
- THREE HOMERICS 1993, 6' This film is composed of three sections created to accompany a piece of music (by Barbara Feldman) on a Homeric poem: (1) "Diana holds back the night..." is represented by dark shapes suppressing (almost angularly interfering with) orange-golden effusions of paint and the reflective paint-shapes of early morning greens (as if silhouettes or arm and bodily profile were shading the light), (2) Homer's "...rolling sea..." represented by hand-painted step-printed dissolves of blues in wave shapes, bubbles, and the soft browns and tender greens of seaweed, flotsam-jetsam, and (3) "Ah love again, the light" represented by painted explosions of multiple hues and lines recurrently interrupted by the "blush" of soft suffusing reds.
- EPHEMERAL SOLIDITY 1993, 4'30" This is one of the most elaborately edited of all the hand-painted films of late - a Haydenesque complexity of thematic variations on a totally visual (i.e. un-musical) theme. This film is composed of 35mm hand-painted images reduced to 16mm film, single-frames, shots of 2, 3, 4 frames and, occasionally, slightly longer shots, all interspersed with a variety of calculated lengths of black leader which cause a flickering of abstract patterns in rhythmed darkness.
- THE HARROWING & TRYST HAUNT 1993, 6' "THE HARROWING": a hand-painted film which has been photographically step-printed to create varieties of tempo in mimic of sparking and molten rock. The recurrent centrality of certain painted forms, and the exploding magma-like flickering repetitions of all that surrounds the forms, suggests a harrowing process.
- "TRYST HAUNT": this is a hand-painted film photographically step-printed so that the thicket-like lines of paint are "played-off" against some centered pale-hued areas of paint in such a way as to suggest a clearing in a forest of branches (which is, in the repetitive form of the whole film only fleetingly seen) - a trysting place which flits through the mind like a ghost.
- STELLAR 1993, 2'30" 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-up" 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.
- BLACK ICE 1994, 2'30" I lost sight due to a blow on the head from slipping on black ice (leading to eye surgery, eventually) and now (because of artificially thinned blood) most steps I take outdoors all winter are made in frightfull awareness of black ice. These "meditations" have finally produced this hand-painted, step-printed film.
- CHARTRES SERIES 1994, 9' A year and a half ago the filmmaker Nick Dorsky, hearing I was going to France, insisted that I must see Chartres Cathedral. I, who had studied picture books of its great stained-glass windows, sculpture and architecture for years, having also read Henry Adams' great book three times, willingly complied and had an experience of several hours (in the discreet company of French filmmaker Jean-Michel Bouhours) which surely transformed my aesthetics more than any other single experience. Then Marilyn's sister died; and I, who could not attend the funeral, sat down alone and began painting on film one day, this death in mind . . . Chartres in mind. Eight months later the painting was completed on four little films which comprise a suite in homage of Chartres and dedicated to Wendy Jull. (My thanks to Sam Bush, of Western Cine, who collaborated with me, on this, much as if I were a composer who handed him a painted score, so to speak, and a few instructions - a medieval manuscript, one might say - and he were the musician who played it.)
- NAUGHTS 1994, 5'30" A series of five hand-painted step-printed films, each of which is a textured, thus tangible, "nothing". A series of "nots", then, in pun, or knots of otherwise invisible energies. (1) The first begins with a semblence of fog clouds rising vertically, an upward lifting waterfall likeness which screens an ephemere of painted shapes that come, at end, to a rhythmic and formal hardness. (2) A progression of blue surreal shapes vanishing in forward movements. (3) A gathering of crystalline forms in primary colors emitting upward moving flares of multi-colored lights, all gradually suggesting an outward momentum. (4) An orange rock-beseeming wall of lights and upward flares suddenly frozen and fading. (5) A mixture of crystal and cellular shapes inter-acting like layers of a fire of decomposition, fogged, and finally like a palimpsest of melding illuminations.
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