Structuring Strategies: Fred Worden—'After Hours in the Cerebral Kitchen'

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1859 (Fred Worden, 2008)Structuring Strategies: Fred Worden—'After Hours in the Cerebral Kitchen'
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 19h
CalArts, Bijou Theater, 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355

Fred Worden has been making experimental film since the mid 1970s. His films have been shown in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, The Museum of Modern Art, The Centre Pompidou, The Pacific Film Archive, The New York Film Festival, The London Film Festival, The Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Toronto Film Festival, The Hong Kong International Film Festival and numerous other experimental film venues. Worden’s films develop out of his interest in intermittent projection as the source of cinema’s primordial powers. How a stream of still pictures passing through a projector at a speed meant to overwhelm the eyes might be harnessed to purposes other than representation or naturalism. A cinema of pure energy, say, that bypasses the discursive mind and goes right at the body, in through the eyes, pulsing, to jigger directly the brain’s electro-chemical neural flows, seedbed of every single thought or feeling. A cinema of direct experiences where stalking the unforeseen, non-translatable is everything. Worden teaches in the Cinematic Arts Concentration at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


- Throbs, 16mm, 10 mins., 1973
My 1973 CalArts MFA film. A first stab at orchestrating the flow of images on a purely kinetic/musical basis. A product of the then wondrous seeming optical printer housed in the bowels of the CalArts Film School. My first ride on that big machine.

- Here, DV,  11 mins.,  2005
Here is a place, an optical location brought into being through conjuring in order to accommodate a clandestine rendezvous between Sir Laurence Olivier and Georges Melies. Georges Melies appears to get the upper hand, confirming that magic will always trump mere performance. Early cinema audiences, we are told, were mesmerized by the cinematic apparitions and impossible cavortings realized by the sly Melies. Those first paying customers had, apparently, no need for plots, movie stars or sharp ideas. Direct conjuring was more than enough. Could that work HERE?

- Everyday bad dream, DV, 6 mins.,  2006
Like picking shards of broken glass out of pile carpet on a hangover morning. -FW

- When worlds collude, DV, 13 mins., 2008
An experimental film structured as a kind of specialized playground in which highly representational images are freed from their duties to refer to things outside of themselves. The images run free in their new lightness, making promiscuous connections with each other and developing an inexplicable, non-parsable plot line that runs along with all the urgency of any good thriller. When worlds collude, something outside of description is always just about to happen. -FW

- Possessed, HDV, 9 mins, 2010
Once, when I was about 18 years old, my friend Eddie Moulton and I were taking a short cut across the local high school parking lot and we happened to notice that one of the school buses parked there had an open door and we could see the keys sitting on the driver’s seat.  It was a Sunday afternoon and no one was around, so just for the illicit thrill of it we got in and drove the bus from one end of the school parking lot to the other. I think if the cops had caught us driving the bus, the charge would have been something like “joy riding.” A similar impulse explains “Possessed.” I had a strong, slightly illicit, urge to commandeer the original train sequence from the 1932 film, Possessed and make it move in such a way as to give the girl (Joan Crawford) what she thought she wanted: a position on the inside. To do that, I had to create my own (all encompassing) vehicle. By my count, the original sequence provides three orders of motion: the motion (and stillness) of the passengers on the train, the motion of the train itself, and finally the motion of the girl (Joan) outside of the train. By injecting my own additional level of motion, I was able to move Joan from her position on the outside looking in (played melodramatically as desire’s longing for the just-out-of-reach) to a position inside, looking around (played as pure vision). But maybe that’s really just my fanciful imagining and, as such, pretty much situates me in Joan’s original position:  projecting desire onto a handy passing vehicle. In the end, at least this much is true: we both love staring into this passing train. In fact, we never seem to tire of it. -FW

- 1859, DV, 11 mins. 2008
“The political or cultural aspects of history are the mere surface of history; that in preference to, and deeper than these, the reality of history lies in biological power, in pure vitality, in what is in man of cosmic energy, not identical with, but related to, the energy which agitates the sea, fecundates the beast, causes the tree to flower and the star to shine.” Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses, 1930
Built out of a 30-frame clip of a lens flare. LSD is illegal, 1859 is not. -FW