Re: [Frameworks] Owen Land (aka George Landow) (1944-2011)

From: Tim Halloran <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 00:20:29 -0700


> Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 22:35:05 -0500
> From:
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Frameworks] Owen Land (aka George Landow) (1944-2011)
> Owen Land, formerly known as George Landow, was a really really great
> filmmaker. His films are like no others. Thanks hugely to Mark Webber
> for his preservation work and for making them available in new prints.
> I first saw Landow's early standard-8mm films (which may be no longer
> extant -- is that right?) such as "Are Era" and "Not a Case of Lateral
> Displacement" at an open screening in New York in the summer of 1964
> or 1965. Open screenings, even back then, tended to have many films
> that weren't so interesting. Landow's not only engaged me, but seemed
> both great, and unlike anything I had seen before. One seemed to be
> long takes of a wound. "Are Era" was shot off TV, very rapidly cut (in
> camera I assume), showing a TV head both right side up and upside
> down. Still in my teens, I had only recently discovered cinema, and
> had never heard of Landow before that screening. "Structural film" had
> not yet been so named, so the statement from the gallery that Land's
> "debut" was a "critique of structural film" is not right, as a "genre"
> that has not yet been named is not exactly ready for its "critique."
> It's true that Land was not the most sociably adept of people. But one
> would not expect that from his films. If you understand his films, you
> understand that communication in them is always paradoxical. His
> fascination with palindromes (and he and I exchanged a few ordinal
> palindromes at times) was only a bare surface indication of his films'
> profound inwardness, an inwardness that was not one of psychological
> interiority, as in Brakhage, but of irreconcilable paradox. Land was
> fascinated with cinema's artificiality, and his use of film imagery
> was profoundly hermetic; it always feels as if his film images are
> spiraling inward, collapsing in on themselves.
> He was not necessarily the friendliest instructor for young filmmakers
> interested in "self-expression." He wasn't very patient with long,
> self-indulgent, emotionally-laden "personal" films. I once saw him
> advise a student, correctly in my view, that the student did not have
> the distance needed to deal with the family footage he was trying to
> fashion into a film. But those who so easily make personal voiceover
> pieces today (in which a voiceover narrates autobiographical details
> on the sound track which the images illustrate) might have something
> to learn from really studying Landow's deeply hermetic art, an art I
> find true in some deep way to the truths of images either on film or
> seen with the eye: Do we really know what any image might mean, or how
> it might "feel"?
> There is much humor in Land's work, and one genuine belly-laugh for
> those who had had their fill of the academic use of Hollis Frampton's
> (admittedly wonderful) "(nostalgia)" to illustrate "structural" film:
> The film within Land's "Wide Angle Saxon" titled "Regrettable Redding
> Condescension," credited to someone named "Al Rutcurts" (remember
> Land's love of palindromes), which was indeed a "critique" of
> "structural film."
> I wish "experimental" cinema had more true originals such as Land,
> filmmakers who find a new and original use for cinema, a new type of
> film grammar, which, of course, can also lead to a new type of
> thinking. In my view, the "project" of "experimental" film at its best
> has always been that of forging new types of consciousness, new was of
> conceiving of the world, new ways of being in the world.
> Fred Camper
> Chicago
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Received on Thu Jul 14 2011 - 00:20:38 CDT