[Chicago screening] - White Light Cinema Presents "Silver Traces: Films by Bruce Wood"

From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Aug 15 2009 - 12:33:27 PDT

Missed getting this in ³This Week in Avant-Garde.²

Hope those local can come! Very beautiful films.



White Light Cinema Presents
Friday, August, 21 ­ 8:00pm
At The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
Introduced by Bruce Wood Live Via Webcam!
For a short period in the 1970s, then-Chicago-based filmmaker Bruce Wood
created several amazing and intensely beautiful black and white abstract
films. And then he stopped; not an uncommon story. In recent years growing
attention has been paid to ³forgotten² regional filmmakers around the
country ­ and Chicago is no exception. Hidden gems are being rediscovered
and shining again years after they were made. White Light Cinema is pleased
to be part of this process by presenting this program of four of Woodıs
final films.
Bruce Wood studied painting, printmaking, and filmmaking at the
Massachusetts College of Art (BFA) and enrolled at the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago (MFA), to study filmmaking under Stan Brakhage. Itıs
easy to see the painterly qualities in his films. One can feel possible
influences from Malevich and Mondrian on one side to the abstract
expressionism of Pollack and De Kooning on the other. But Woodıs films also
hint at a wide history of experimental filmmaking as well, from early
abstract pioneers such as Vikking Eggeling and Hans Richter to the lyrical
work of Bruce Baillie and Stan Brakhage to the then-current work of
Structuralist filmmakers.
Despite the many threads to be found in Woodıs films, they arenıt ³poor
copies² of other artistsı work ­ he has a style and feel that seems quite
unique and individual.
Bruce Wood writes:
³Unlike my contemporaries who approached film as extensions of poetry,
drama, science, or music, I concentrated on finding a film structure which
had purely visual influences. I was obsessed with expanding the legacy of
Abstract Expressionist painting, and with using light as a medium for
achieving that goal.

I worked to create a visual language of film which was "Pure." In that
quest, I stripped film down to its basic qualities: Light, Dark, and Motion.
Each film is silent, to avoid any misconception that the image had been
edited to match the rhythm of music. I also experimented with creating
images primarily through the manipulation of light and film stock, in an
attempt to keep them non-referential. The titles alone are poetic, and were
provided after the creation of the films to set a tone of undefined mystery.

My films are literally extensions of the aesthetics made popular by the
Abstract Expressionist painters. The influence of Franz Klein is most
evident, as the films are totally devoid of color. However, the influence of
Op artists like Vassarelli and Albers is also there, evident in colors which
are produced in the retinas of the viewers.²
³Bruce Wood's films are among the most sensual of any Œabstractı animated
work ever made. Projected, they generate a fluid stream of organic images in
a carefully controlled post-cubist space comparable to the work of painters
like Jackson Pollock. Viewed one frame at a time, (which is the way much of
the footage is shot), they recall the rich lines and textures of such master
etchers as Rembrandt. Wood's use of camera movement during the exposure of
each individual frame - like drawing - together with the illusion of
movement in projection make his films both beautiful and unique." (Bill
Judson, Curator of Film, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute)
Between Glances
1978, 14 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent
"BETWEEN GLANCES ... plays with the illusion of depth, with interactions
between apparent upper and lower planes. Strong blacks and whites bound the
range of grays they encompass, while, periodically, black and white stills
devoid of gray tones and of motion demarcate the film's progress." (B. Ruby
The Bridge of Heaven
1977, 33 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent
Frozen Flight
1977, 32 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent
³Bruce Wood, in the few short years he has been working in film, has
produced an amazing body of work. He is practically alone in a genre (black
and white silent abstractions) which has its antecedents in the likes of
Eggeling, Richter and Leger. What I find most interesting in his work, amid
the concern with textures, shape and space, is his ability to produce works
of even tension. Doing away with concepts of beginning, middle and end, he
presents a broad landscape, piece by piece, until he has exhausted the
source of his subject matter and the whole scene lies there naked and
revealed.² (Carmen Vigil, Director, The Cinematheque, San Francisco Art
The Smell of Death - World Premiere Screening!
1977 (printed and ³released² 2004), 16 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent
"The Smell of Death is the only film I made which started with a non-visual
idea. It actually started with a title before anything else, and marked a
change in my approach to film. Maybe that is why it was the last one for
twenty-five years. When it was done, I returned to painting.

The title refers to the death of one of my uncles. My father found him
minutes later, and described "the smell of death" which he had experienced
before. That event set the tone in my mind for this film.

Each preceding work was preoccupied with beauty and illusion. This one I
wanted to be strong and austere, a statement of life and death. In that way,
The Smell Of Death is closest in structure to poetry than any of my previous
works. I found that concept totally unsettling, considering how I had
abhorred narrative structure.

The other films are all exercises in visual perception and illusion. In each
film I would expand the visual vocabulary of its predecessors. For example,
in one I would create rapid high-contrast lines, and in the next introduce
slower, sliding surfaces, and then combine lines and surfaces, slow and
fast, and high and low contrast. Each film was a moving, ephemeral
painting." (Bruce Wood)
Bruce Wood came out of filmmaking ³retirement² in 2004, producing a short
experimental digital video (New Kisses, 2004) and a feature-length narrative
film (The Door, 2005). He currently has a second feature in development.
Information on his current activities can be found on his website:
www.dreamfastcinema.com <http://www.dreamfastcinema.com> .
This program screens Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:00pm at The Nightingale
(1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale
Website: www.whitelightcinema.com

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