Re: Christmas On Earth

From: James Kreul (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 24 2007 - 10:28:00 PST

The film now comes with a CD version of the tape mentioned below. (If my
memory is correct David Tetzlaff assembled it, perhaps someone could confirm
this.) You have a few options with the CDs, including a version that
combines period songs with period radio commercials. That's the option I
used when I screened it this past Fall, and it worked out well (although
some of the song choices seemed a bit too perfect).

The first few times I saw the film I saw it with an oldies station tuned in,
with current radio ads. I think I will go back to that option the next time
I screen the film, because it can transform the film each time you see it.
(Now that I've seen it once with the CD, I don't want to fix the experience
to that one set of songs and ads.)

The instructions are included in the film description in the Co-op Catalogue
#7 (and probably earlier ones, too), p. 416. "...a radio must be hooked up
to your P.A. System with a nice cross-section of psychic tumult, like an AM
rock station turned on and played loud." The emphasis probably should be on
"psychic tumult" and "played loud" rather than on "like an AM rock station."

It all depends on how you interpret the intent of the instructions in the
first place. If you think the intent was to hear a particular kind of music
and radio programming circa 1963, then the CDs are a good option. If you
think the intent had more to do with generating an uncontrolled soundtrack
that will be different each time you see the film (just as the color filters
that you place in front of the lenses will transform the experience each
time), then the radio option is the way to go. You could also interpret the
instructions as a call to incorporate whatever was popular on the radio at
the time (rather than "oldies") into the experience of the film, which would
suggest the parallel experience now would be to tune into a contemporary
rock station. (Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me could say what
the connotations of an AM rock station would have been in 1963--a pop rock

Alva, I don't think you need to worry too much about the structure of
current corporate radio, because the film ends up bringing out the subtext
to most of the mundane ads that dominate oldies stations. Sure, it's
different than what you would have heard in 1963, but it raises awareness of
things we've probably tuned out of our contemporary experience.

As has been mentioned I previous threads, there was an article on Barbara
Rubin and Christmas on Earth in the December 2005 Art in America.

James Kreul
University of North Carolina Wilmington
email suppressed

On 1/24/07 1:46 AM, "owen" <email suppressed> wrote:

> The question was regarding "Christmas on Earth" - Rubin's seminal
> (pun intended) dual projector work - not "Christmas on Earth
> Continued" , which was never produced.
> The instructions for projection and sound accompaniment are included
> with the rental from Filmmakers coop. Someone at the coop made a tape
> - which approximates what may have been heard on AM radio in the
> early 60's - that is included with rentals. The film was made in
> 1963. Live music was played at least once as accompaniment when the
> Velvet Underground jammed with the film. Colored gels are included
> with the film and are to be placed in front of the lenses while
> projecting. Chance played a large roll in Rubin's aesthetic
> sensibilities and thus I think one can play any damn thing one wants
> to along with the film.
> Owen Plotkin
> On Jan 24, 2007, at 12:41 AM, Jack Sargeant wrote:
>> the script for Christmas On Earth Continued was published as a
>> booklet, details and description below. This indicates her
>> interest / taste in music, if not what would necessarily be on the
>> radio circa 1966....
>> interesting...
>> check Ginsberg's diaries as I think he may mention the film in there.
>> jack
>> Title: Christmas on Earth Continued.
>> Author: RUBIN, Barbara.
>> Description: No place: self-published, 1965. 4to. Mimeographed
>> sheets, stapled. Barbara Rubin's script for a proposed movie, a
>> sequel to her earlier experimental film "Christmas On Earth" (which
>> reportedly at some stage featured a Velvet Underground soundtrack,
>> and in which, as friend and sometime lover Allen Ginsberg has
>> described, "she made an art object out of her vagina"). The script
>> features a lengthy list of "Desired Stars & Heroes, Heroines", who
>> include The Beatles, Stones, Velvets, Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger,
>> Gregory Corso, Harry Smith, The Kinks, Alex Trocchi, and numerous
>> others. Part of the Factory crowd through her film work, Rubin
>> introduced Bob Dylan to Warhol, and in London was one of the prime
>> movers behind the 1965 Albert Hall poetry event. This unrealised
>> film-script was later published (in 1968) by Bob Cobbing's Writers
>> Forum Press in an edition of 100 copies. Upper wrapper sl. marked,
>> On 24 Jan 2007, at 16:29, alvamel wrote:
>>> In April 05, there was a short thread about Barbara Rubin's film
>>> 'Christmas On Earth'. It seems that aside from having the film(s)
>>> double-projected that the projectionist is also given instructions
>>> to have radio playing into the theatre at the same time. I'm
>>> curious about these instructions - to have the film scored to live
>>> radio tuned to a so-called 'rock station'.
>>> Obviously, radio in the mid-sixties and radio today are a
>>> completely different animal. Aside from shifts in musical style,
>>> contemporary radio is owned by a few centralized corporations -
>>> thus predictably managed to the listener's conditioned taste . So,
>>> I would imagine that radio 40 years ago was much more eccentric
>>> and was likely to enhance the tension of the viewing experience,
>>> not knowing what sort of musical accompaniment or commercial was
>>> likely to come next. I gather that Barbara was hoping to create an
>>> experience that garnered a certain spontaneity.
>>> Is there anybody on this list who can share the experience of
>>> seeing 'Christmas On Earth' as per the original exposition
>>> instructions?
>>> Thanks for any insight.
>>> Alva
>>> __________________________________________________________________
>>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.