From: David Woods (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2006 - 02:39:30 PDT
Evolution 2006 Leeds PART 1 Snow lowder Sherwin Reble Koner Conrad (Split
into 2 sequential emails due to 1000 line maxrule)
Occasionally I and others write responses to something we've seen on the
assumption that something of the response may prove of value to others who
haven't seen "it". So what follows are private thoughts now exposed for
Frameworkers' consumption, edification and delectation or deletion. Readers
might like to go to the link to scan what the programme contained. I
caught perhaps 75% of it.
It's possibly worth adding that I've not spent much time editing what
follows. I shoot from the hip on occasion and tend to consider the
visceral and instant responses to film work, glimpsed / captured as
scribbles in the dark, are of potential value, as they come out of the
unconscious as much as the intellect.
I hope they have some value to a few hardy readers at least.
Evolution 2006 Lumen Leeds City Art Gallery Yorkshire UK April
Thoughts. Uncensored notes I made as the days unfolded and some thoughts on
Rose Lowder Avignon Exptl Film Archive
Intro. Repeated filming at locations over time
1.. colour square circle tiny in the centre of the frame
2.. Rue Des Teinturiers 1979 Three focal planes moved to rapidly
Foreground potted plant, beyond is street life. The leaves in the
foreground appear to self-matte with the focus changes, but, strangely, the
"dance" of the plant is independent of the background street "dance"
I try to trace her work amid the crude film history of Lumiere - doc.;
Meliers - fantasy / narrative. Is she an experimental re-presenter? An
experimental documentary filmmaker?
3.. Orchard (Champ Provencal) 1979 Zoom only resettings sets up a buzz of
bark and foliage
Interestingly, only a very few frames would ID the author of these films,
much like some music, viz Schostakovich, Elgar, Stravinsky, Monk can be
Asked in the Q&A if she agrees she is an experimental documentary filmmaker
she says that in France the word experimental is a grab-bag for anything
that is not clearly doc. or narrative.
4. Scenes of French Life: La Ciotat re-presents harbour views superimposed /
alternated frame by frame to collapse segments of time as small boat life
relaxes beneath an enormous tanker being launched. The documentary surface
constantly demands to be recognized while the treatment provides a
dispassionate and idiosyncratic uncoupling of place and time. The trees,
cranes etc are static registration guides, the boats, some cranes, people
dither while the sea melts acceptingly.
The surface has the quality of a 19th C engraving and "little happens", but
it takes a long time. Cars, people, boats pass through each other while the
world holds steady, flickering in binary mode - red / blue. Eventually a
ship / tanker launch happens, but it does not escape and becomes just
another actor in Rose Lowder's dance of time. Interestingly (to me) this
world has similarities with my AMSTERDAM 79 made from still photographs and
morphed into a movie under the rostrum camera.
5.Les Tournesois / coloured sunflowers (1982) 8fps? Angry sunflowers,
livid, funny; f11? Minute focus changes perhaps?
6. Poppies and Sailboats - sailboats scoot through shivering poppies like
urgent insects - via an optical printer (2001)
Talking afterwards she tells me of her anxiety to protect her negatives amid
the shrinking and nonchalant laboratory / archive world. I tell her of my
lost original of TURNIP when a lab. closed. She tells me of the decade when
French experimental film world would not accept her / let her in. She
painted a ruefull picture of the terror-tenure of the University filmmakers
who spawned the only legitimate film artists - a strange dictatorship. A
mafia-type old boy's network. I could match it if I cared to document the
old gang of RCA old boys who ran the Art Colleges until the 70's, and the
reactionary painters / traditional artist who, terrified of film, kept it
Jurgen Reble & Thomas Koner Quasar
Five projectors slowed down / varied fps with elements of the mechanical
sound represented to the audience. Intense optically printed abstract
images dissolve ad infinitum. Uncertain about the three BW images
projected behind the audience, showing hi-con dissolving electronic
Whitney-type loops, while the big screen held my attention with the
throbbing dissolves, with the insistant projector clicks hovering between
the mesmeric and didactic. Something called a 'hazer' played a part which I
did not expose. Nice chat with helpful filmmaker re. my interest in German
Tony Conrad's "Ten years after the Infinite Plain"
Was going to give this one a miss - hell, the train alone costs £10 - and I
can't but admit a nonchalance / prejudice about his minimalist
contributions, but luckily Rob Gawthrop enthused about it and I went - and
was so glad I did.
Four screens, side by side horizontally, slowly reveal four projected loops
of vertical shutters of alternated black and white which animate between
these two polar conditions. This flickering image gently assaults the
retina which tries to register whether the pattern is static or laterally
shifting. Move the head and the strobing pans left or right. Then the
whites reveal afterimage colours.
All the while the live musicians "at the back" have been intoning
repetitions of mantra-like stringed instruments / sitars perhaps.
After a while, or an age for some neighbours, we notice that the right and
left screen are moving inwards to begin to superimpose over the centre two
screens. So now we have increasingly strobing patterns of black and white
which shift in phase with the slight variations in projector speed. And
the music / sound, at times reveals a momentary flourish of Eastern
sensibility, at which point the screen loses its enchantment, but only for a
moment. Finally narrative convention or anal balance Monks the tail into a
reverse of the head, as the projectors are slowly turned-off and the music
rules the darkness for a short while.
My applause was as genuine as the 100 others. So glad I went.
Michael Snow (part 1)
In the initial waiting and darkness, someone, with lips and breath near the
microphone, is whistling - bird sounds and fragments of melodies.
Michael tells us later it is from his "Win The D" record of 1974 (I think)
Pip Choderof introduces Michael as "an eleder statesman of cinema". So I
finally get sight of Pip, an emaler reified.
Michael thanks Pip for the intro. And William Rose for Evolution 2006
He talks about sound (he says he's a musician, whistler, painter, filmmaker)
He runs a short breathtaking recording of his piano improvisation - he is
formidably talented - his soul breathing through his fingers, waves of sound
rippling in all directions, resolutions and dissonances exploding in his
complete control. I'm gobsmacked. He rivals Glenn Gould.
New York Eye and Ear control (1964) He explained that he was concerned that
the music had parity with the image (cf conventional music usage);
simultaneity but independence.
He played jazz for a living in Toronto.
Albert Isler (Free Jazz movement)
"Free improvisation" he feels is the "most phenomenal happening in music in
In NYE&EC he puts "expressionist music against a classicist image"
Referred to "Biography of the Walking Woman" (2004)
I let my subconscious write: "Walking woman cut-out: White woman; tight
skirt; large chest; no hands, as in a doorway; a woman 2D for; a white
woman, white until the female appears who is clearly black, and the black
man with the twist of white beard appears aestheticised. And finally a
mixed race couple - the woman is white."
I remember what 1964 meant and don't wish to go back there.
I would have accused and excised (rather than excused) the bad
cinematography at the head - the whitewashing brush-strokes of amateur
camera pans, but perhaps they frame the sharper and designed framing which
characterizes the majority of the film.
When the music starts and runs on independent of any cuts in the picture we
move into a biographic set of portraits of the jazz group. I think of MY
first film TANGENTS of 1960 and its weaknesses - and smile.
Back and Forth - unmotivated pans last seen in the NYC premiere in the New
Yorker, or the 59th St. Playhouse or the Waverley, was it. The hits as the
pans end / begin gave Michael pleasure.
I took a break while the zip pans became a blur and the hits a flurry.
Came back in after we had gone vertical. Like Rose Lowder's work, I found
interest in the documentary material which survived the camera's
nonchalance, the trivial glimpses of class room life in a small college and
the trademark ham acting which Michael liked to employ to finger the obvious
"Much ado" I felt again, (after 40 years or so) yet the power of the
structural limitations still provoked. I guess that why I was there; I
knew it would. But I was there also because I wanted to have a historical
review as a preface to the new work in part 2, twentyfirstcentury work where
narrative apparently played a pivotal role.
PART 2 follows in next email
Dr. David Woods M.B.K.S.
16 John Street
Hull HU2 8DH
tel. 44 (0)1482 323421
cel (0781) 259 1772
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.