Microscope is very pleased to present Rewriting Film History, Reinventing Film Apparatus a program of 16mm films curated by Enrico Camporesi. The evening includes historical and more recent works by Jean-Michel Bouhours, Werner Nekes, David Wharry, Mary Helena Clark, Ernst Schimdt Jr., and Peter Miller that have rarely, if ever, screened in the US, and coming from the Light Cone Collection (Paris). Enrico Camporesi's description of the show follows: The notion of rewriting film history has constantly haunted moving image production. In the same way, challenging the basic cinematographic apparatus (the screen, the projection, etc.) has been a crucial issue in avant-garde filmmaking. The program seeks to explore the diverse strategies that have been adopted by experimental and avant-garde filmmakers in order to investigate such themes. The films are selected from the collection of Light Cone, the main European distributor for experimental and avant-garde films, and have been rarely (if ever) screened in the United States.
The archeological inquiry on the origins of cinema stands at the core of the first two films. Jean-Michel Bouhours (one of the key figures of the French scene of the 1970s, and former film curator at Centre Pompidou) reactivates and puts into motion Etienne Jules Marey's photographic decomposition of the movement. In this process Bouhours inscribes Marey's scientific experiments into the origins of film, thus providing a different paradigm from the usual supremacy of the Lumière brothers. Another possible genealogy of the moving image is staged by Werner Nekes. In Blick aus dem harmonischen Gefangnis (1982) the German filmmaker and connoisseur of optical toys reconnects the cinematographic apparatus to a play of light and shadows, not far from the oriental traditions of shadow theaters. Projection therefore stands at the core of this re-reading. Such is the case also of David Wharry's film Phaeton (1978), in which the phenomenon of projection is investigated in a humorous and lyrical manner. A voice over gives instructions to the viewer so that he can see the film not by means of the reflection of the screen, but in his own mind. Wharry's displacement of the viewer and apparatus makes them virtually coincide. Mary Helena Clark's recent rendition of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus deals in an inventive way with the heritage of a classical avant-garde film, proposing an alternative hypothesis of the making of Cocteau's work. The attention is in this case brought to the (invented) outtakes. This neglected element is also reworked by Ernst Schmidt Jr., the Viennese filmmaker close to the Actionist scene. In Filmreste (1966) he edits scraps of his own films, attacking them with painterly brushes and providing what in his words was meant to be “a trailer for cinema to come”. The closing film of the program, by Paris-based American artist Peter Miller, is part of a series of “useful films” (also, an example of “cinema to come”). A Film that Cleans your Eyes (2010) is meant to end the screening freeing the viewer from all the images previously experienced.
Programme: (approximately 52 minutes)
- Intermittences non regulées d’Etienne-Jules Marey (Jean-Michel Bouhours, 1978 / 16mm, bw, sil., 14 min.)
- Blick aud dem harmonischen Gefangnis (Werner Nekes, 1982 / 16mm, col., op. sound, 11 min.)
- Phaeton – General Picture. Episode 5 (David Wharry, 1978 / 16mm, col., op. sound, 7 min 25 sec.) -
- Orpheus (Outtakes) (Mary Helena Clark, 2013 / 16mm, bw, op. sound, 6 min.)
- Filmreste (Ernst Schimdt Jr., 1966 / 16mm, bw, op. sound, 10 min.)
- A Film that Cleans your Eyes (Peter Miller, 2010 / 16mm, col., sil, 3 min.)
Enrico Camporesi is an Italian writer and curator based in Paris. He is a research fellow at Centre Pompidou and a Ph.D candidate in a joint program between the University Sorbonne Nouvelle and the University of Bologna. His current research focuses on matters of restoration and museology of experimental and artist’s film. His writings on the moving image have appeared in Necsus – European Journal of Media Studies, Fata Morgana, La Furia Umana, and in several edited volumes. He curated screenings for Centre Pompidou, Light Cone, and Cineteca di Bologna. Light Cone is a non-profit making organization with the aim of promoting, distributing and preserving experimental cinema. Its remit covers the different historical forms, as well as contemporary research, both in France and abroad. Its collection is by virtue of its size and comprehensiveness one of the most important and valuable collections of experimental film in Europe. Light Cone distributes nearly 3700 works - Super-8, 35mm and above all 16mm films, works of expanded cinema (multi-screen projection) as well as analogue and digital videos. More than 500 international artists and filmmakers made these films from 1905 onwards to the present day.