Re: [Frameworks] Film's rupture

From: Mark Toscano <>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:47:46 -0700 (PDT)

In some Warner Bros cartoons, there’ll be a gag involving a hair in the projector (e.g. Magical Maestro) or the framing going off (e.g. Duck Amuck). There are probably lots of examples of this kind of thing in various Warner Bros cartoons.

The trailer for the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead features a moment where the film seems to catch in the gate and burn. I think there’s a moment like this in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter too.

In Fight Club, there’s a sequence of Brad Pitt splicing a few frames of porn into family movies, although (to be dorky about it), the effect as demonstrated doesn’t take into account the 20-frame lapse between picture and sound in 35mm. He also talks about changeover cues, and there’s a repeat of the porno frames gag at the end of the film.

The end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail involves an abrupt break in the film.

In Robert Swarthe’s hand-painted Oscar-nominated short Kick Me, there are several gags involving the materiality of film (like the little figure walking on the countdown leader).

In avant-garde film, there’re probably tons of examples, but here are a few that come to mind:

Paul Sharits’ S:TREAM:S:S:ECTION:S:ECTION:S:S:ECTIONED is all about scratches.

Pat O’Neill’s Saugus Series has a remarkable sequence in which three vertical scratches in the film, “dancing” in sync with a waltz on the soundtrack, start to ooze paint down the “surface” of the film.

Peter Rose’s Secondary Currents ends with the film (composed entirely of various white-on-black titles and subtitles) going haywire and exploding into clear leader with more or less unreadable color magic marker text streaming by. Each print is hand-modified in this way by Peter. I think rupture is particularly relevant here.

You mentioned Peter Tscherkassky already, but he has several others, including Manufraktur, Dream Work, L’Arrivee, and Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine.

Brakhage was also mentioned, but his birth film Thigh Line Lyre Triangular seems to erupt out of (and at the end, retreat back into) the blackness of film leader, in a powerful visual reference to birth.

Some Owen Land (formerly George Landow) films apply: Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc., Bardo Follies, On the Marriage Broker Joke as Cited by Sigmund Freud in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious or Can the Avant-Garde Artist Be Wholed? …

Morgan Fisher’s Standard Gauge is perhaps a unique example.

David Gatten’s The Secret History of the Dividing Line features sequences of film town vertically in half and spliced back together, leaving a jagged gap. Frederique Devaux and many others have worked with recomposing torn footage too.

David Rimmer’s films Surfacing on the Thames exploits the original surface texture of the source footage beautifully, one of my favorites.

Many of Zack Stiglicz’s films exploit the fragility and materiality of color negative film in particular, and his prints were often uniquely hand-modified with additional scratching and whatnot too. A lot of his color neg films were deliberately not cleaned and printed dry-gate to ensure the maximum of negative splices, scratches, dirt showing up as white forms and textures on the prints. His films look scarred.

JJ Murphy’s Print Generation was made by taking the same 1 minute of footage (comprising 60 1-second shots) and duplicating it over and over until he had gone 50 generations from the original. The 50 1-minute generations were then sequenced 49, 47, 45, etc. down to 1 (in the center of the film), then 2, 4, 6, etc. all the way out to 50. The image transforms radically throughout the film as a direct result of the material properties of film and the artifacts and degradation that occur in its duplication.

Chris Langdon’s Picasso and The Last Interview With P. Passolini were deliberately scratched and processed somewhat dirty to look like found films, oldero bjects. Her collaboration with Fred Worden, Venusville, plays a lot with hairs, dirt, and scratches in film texture, even making some great jokes about the purity and clarity of the image.

Ben Van Meter’s Acid Mantra culminates in an extended sequence of heavily reticulated Ektachrome film that gets increasingly degraded, seeming at times to be falling off the screen in clumps.

David Wilson (Museum of Jurassic Technology) has an early film called Saturn Cycle. One sequence features heavily scratched black leader over which a small dancing woman is periodically superimposed. The whole composition loops multiple times, before retreating backwards and being overtaken by footage of trains streaking by. Best part of the film, too. Sort of a rupture in a rupture in a rupture.

Robert Huot’s film Scratch is a scratch down black leader.

Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren have a few films which might be relevant – Future Perfect has an ever-escalating series of markings on it that eventually turn into constant vertical markings. Prints of Murray and Max Talk About Money were individually hole punched several times in one particular sequence near the film’s end.

When Thai censors only agreed to let Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film Syndromes and a Century show in Thailand if he removed certain sequences, he replaced those shots with equal length sections of scratched black leader, which struck me as a brilliant way to call the audience’s attention to the lunacy of their censorship. Different kind of rupture here, but powerful.

And I really hate to self-promote (really really really) but I have a film called The Wofobs which features an intentional scratch through the entire movie. There, I said it. Ugh.

Mark T

--- On Sun, 4/17/11, Anastasia Tsarkova <> wrote:

From: Anastasia Tsarkova <>
Subject: [Frameworks] Film's rupture
Date: Sunday, April 17, 2011, 4:06 PM

Dear colleagues,
Could you please tell me in which films (mostly non-experimental, but experimental is also ok) we can observe the film's rupture and the involving of film (as material) into the fictional world (just like in Bergman's Persona & Peter Tscherkassky's Outer Space)? The examples with the premeditated and non-accidental scrathes are also worth a lot.
Thanks in advance
Best Regards,Anastasia

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