the aperture of ghostings

the 39th new york film festival at the walter reade theater:


October 13 - 14, 2001

photo: detail from The Aperture of Ghostings
by Lewis Klahr (program 4)

VIEWS FROM THE AVANT-GARDE premieres experimental films from the frontiers of cinematic possibility. This program is curated by Mark McElhatten & Gavin Smith.

Past Programs:

2000 Views from the Avant-Garde program.
1999 Views from the Avant-Garde program .
1998 Views from the Avant-Garde program.
1997 Views from the Avant-Garde program.
Background information on the series is here.

See information about our box office sales here

  PROGRAM ONE: DORSKY, BRAKHAGE & BEAVERS : Sat Oct 13: 4.30pm; Sun Oct 14: 8:30pm
  PROGRAM THREE: ANDREW NOREN : Sat Oct 13: 9.00pm

love's refrain

(Nathaniel Dorsky, U.S., 2001, 22 1/2m)
Perhaps the most delicately tactile in this series, Love's Refrain rests moment to moment on its own surface. It is a coda in twilight, a soft-spoken conclusion to a set of four cinematic songs. - Nathaniel Dorsky
(Stan Brakhage, U.S., 2001, 3m)
the ground the ground
(Robert Beavers, U.S., 2001, 20m)
What lives in the space between the stones, in the space cupped between my hand and my chest? Filmmaker/stonemason. A tower or ruin of remembrance. With each swing of the hammer I cut into the image and the sound rises from the chisel. A rhythm, marked by repetition, and animated by variation; strokes of hammer and fist, resounding in dialogue. In this space which the film creates, emptiness gains a contour strong enough for the spectator to see more than the image - a space permitting vision in addition to sight. - Robert Beavers

Total running time: 45 1/2m
Sat Oct 13: 4.30pm; Sun Oct 14: 8:30pm

Each age a lens disseminating their circumference. - Emily Dickinson

the or cloud
(Fred Worden, U.S., 2001, 6m)
A guided adventure for the eyeballs. And as such, also, of necessity, an adventure of the mind (how could it be otherwise?). I believe there is a current which runs at the core of all beings, call it the life force, a dynamic which in individuals reflects both the personal and the universal. Up on the screen, frames in motion, a rushing stream of articulated energy to resonate with that inner biological current. Adventurous eyeballing then, in the ideal, an epiphanous moment of mutual recognition and commiseration between energy forms. "There is a vibration which exists to enrapture and console us." (Rilke). I like to think this vibration can be detected streaming out of The Or Cloud. - Fred Worden
lightlicksgetitwhileyoucan lightlicksgetitwhileyoucan
(Saul Levine, U.S., 2001, Super 8, 6m)
One of a series of films called Light Licks which are made frame by frame often by flooding the camera with enough light to spill beyond the gate into frames left unexposed. Light Licks are ecstatic flicker films inspired by jazz and mystic visionary practice. I saw the Light - Praise the Dark. - Saul Levine
patina patina

(Peter Herwitz, U.S., 2001, 8m)
The title of the film - Patina - suggests many meanings around the phenomenon of "surface" that function in this hand painted film. Taking footage from a distant past and reworking it through paint and montage, creating veils thorough which only glimpses of the photographed images can be seen - becomes not a metaphor for but a visceral expression of the effects of time. The goal of the work is not to be excessively "poignant" or "nostalgic" about the past but rather to celebrate the vibrancy of seeing (and painting) it anew. The process of transforming photography into paint is particularly significant for me as I have been painting on paper and canvas for the past several years and this is my first completed film from this period. - Peter Herwitz
(Jim Jennings, U.S., 2001, 10 1/2m)
The title Impossible Love suggests the miraculous amidst ever-present doom and beauty. Shot in Venice, Italy the film was edited in the camera except the first B & W section. In this work, "illusion" overpowers "reality" and then ends abruptly, tragically, romantically. - Jim Jennings
fear of blushingfear of blushing
(Jennifer Reeves, U.S., 2001, 5 1/2m)
Fear of Blushing, a hand-painted film, bursts forth with irrepressible color, corrosion and a menacing soundscape. The film's curious sound/image free-association evokes anxiety, conflict, pleasure and shame. Fragmented visions and voices erupt out of the ominous abstraction and lead you to wonder what frightful thing is buried here. How terrible to look inward & how embarrassing to be revealed by the blush that rises to give us away. This film is beautiful and creepy and doesn't have to be clear about any of this absurdity. A film best appreciated in the immediate, you cannot ponder at this rapid succession of images at 24fps. - Jennifer Reeves
nebel (mist)
(Matthias Müller, Germany, 2001, 35mm, 11m)
Ernst Jandl's Gedichte an die Kindheit ("Poems to Childhood") are composed in a language which the author calls "verkindlicht" ("childlike"); they contain interruptions of style, elements which are incorrect or banal, as well as suggestions of the rhymes and prayers of children. They do not attempt to parody the child's minimal linguistic means of expression, but rather to evoke childlike ways of experiencing, as seen from the position of an ageing man - they attempt to preserve childhood. Nebel (Mist) attempts to translate into images the heterogeneous structure of these poems, their ambivalence, their melancholy and also their scurrilous humor.
the enjoyment of reading the enjoyment of reading
(David Gatten, U.S., 2001, 13 minutes, silent, 16mm film)
"All night I sat reading a book, / Sat reading as if in a book / Of somber pages / It was autumn and falling stars / Covered the shriveled forms / Crouched in the moonlight / No lamp was burning as I read, / A voice was mumbling, 'Everything / Falls back to coldness / Even the musky muscadines / The melons, the vermilion pears / Of the leafless garden.' / The somber pages bore no print / Except the trace of burning stars / In the frosty heaven." — Wallace Stevens
A closely watched candle and an invitation to the dance. William Byrd booms among his books while Evelyn keeps to a quiet window; the volunteer fire brigade sorts through the ashes and Isaac Goldberg tells it like it is. Who read what; when and why?
The first in a series of seven films about the division of landscapes, objects, ideas and people; about letters, libraries, and lovers; auctions, ghosts and the Byrd family of Virginia during the early 18th century.

(Jim Jennings, U.S., 2001, 8 1/2m)
Shot in a Queens, New York apartment, Interior depicts rooms as emotional states of being. The apartment represents the comfort and torment of domestic life. Like a human skulll, it holds images that are imbued with associations both painful and sublime. - Jim Jennings looking at the sea
(Peter Hutton, U.S., 2001, 16 1/2m)
Looking at the Sea is a meditation on the light, color and texture of the land and seascapes along the west coast of Ireland. - Peter Hutton

Total running time: 86m
Sat Oct 13: 6.00pm


time being time being

(Andrew Noren, U.S., 2001, 55m)
Music for light and mind.
The Veil wears thin (who could blame it?) and "the sparks fly upward!".
Kinesis is better than sleep.
Cinema isn't materials. It's refined, imaginative seeing...darkness made visible. It existed long before modern devices, since the first opening of the first animal eyelid...scene one, take one.
When solar light (Sun's thought?) and our own light-of-mind meet, whatever the medium, cinema is possible. This is a spiritual transaction.
Sun's light emanates, projecting image of "world" through "eye" and into camera obscura of brain (a "darkened chamber" indeed). Mind imagines... forming a scenario of intent and desire...and projects that light back through "eye" onto "world".
We blink. This intermittance creates our dubious dream of "time"...belief in sequence of scene becomes "before" and "after". Sequence requires duration...the rest is history!
The eye you see "it" with is the eye "it" sees you with. Refinement in this area is possible...and desirable. This can be understood magically.
This is the great primal cinema of animal of the longest-running movies in show biz... at which we are all captive spectators, asleep and awake, from first light to final fade. - Andrew Noren

Total running time: 55m
Sat Oct 13: 9.00pm

To sleep immodestly a most, incarnadine and carnal ghost. - Theodore Roethke
the dark room the dark room

(Minyong Jang, U.S./Korea, 2001, 4m)
her glacial speed her glacial speed
(Eve Heller, U.S., 2001, 4m)
The world as seen in a teardrop of milk. I set out to make a film about how unwitting constellations of meaning rise to a surface of understanding at a pace outside of worldly time. This premise became a self fulfilling prophecy. An unexpected interior began to unfold, made palpable by a trauma that remains abstract. First ‘words’ since my mother and father died. - Eve Heller
dreamwork (for man raydreamwork (for man ray)
(Peter Tscherkassky, Austria, 2001, 35mm, b/w, 11 min)
Music: Kiawasch Saheb Nassagh
A woman goes to bed, falls asleep, and begins to dream. This dream takes her to a landscape of light and shadow, evoked in a form only possible through classic cinematography. Dream Work is - after L’Arrivée and Outer Space - the third section of my CinemaScope Trilogy. The formal element binding the trilogy is the specific technique of contact printing, by which found film footage is copied by hand and frame by frame onto unexposed film stock. Through this, I am able, in a literal sense, to realize the central mechanism by which dreams produce meaning, the "dream work," as Sigmund Freud described it: displacement [Verschiebung] and condensation [Verdichtung]. The new interpertation of the text of the original source material takes place through its "displacement" from its original context and its concurrent "condensation" by means of multiple exposure. Moreover Dream Work positions itself as an homage to Man Ray, who, in 1923 with his famous rayographs in La retour á la raison was the first artist to use this technique for filmmaking, exposing the image by shining light through physical objects onto the film stock. - Peter Tscherkassky
(Cécile Fontaine, France, 2001, 7m)
(Mary Beth Reed, U.S., 2001, 7 1/2 m)
After a young girl discovers her passion for sword fighting, she struggles to improve her technique. She finds her role model when a band of Montessori school children invite her to a demonstration given by a legendary Hollywood master. During intense training sessions, the children's adroit sword play awakens their competitive instincts. They rebel against their teacher, and a harrowing duel ensues. The heroine faces internal turmoil when the Montessori gang forces her to choose between her master's path and their growing power. The film combines optically printed and hand processed original and appropriated imagery.
dark dark dark dark
(Abigail Child, U.S., 2001, 15m)
An uncanny ghost dance of narrative gesture melding four found story fragments (Noir, Western, Romance and Chase) upside down and backwards. The music of Ennio Morricone provocatively interacts with the images, tantalizing the audience with webs of cinematic memory, meaning and elusive folly. Unlike Child's previous montage of assemblage, this film is a work of subtraction, repositioning celluloid and sound tropes into a haunting, strangely poignant, and nearly always amazing unfolding.
(Lewis Klahr, U.S., 2001, 14m)
Elsa Kirk - 5m, 1999
Catherine Street - 3m, 2001
Creased Robe Smile - 4 1/2 m, 2001
In the mid 1990’s I unearthed three photographic contact sheets of three different women in a thrift store in the East Village. Only one was named and dated - Elsa Kirk, Feb 22 '63 - but all looked like they were from the same photographer and time period. There were 12 images per sheet of these Models/Actresses and I found myself quite moved by the strong sense of aspiration in their poses; a poignant blend of fiction and reality. At first, I was unable to translate these images into collage animation. So instead, I began making xerox enlargements of the sheets which I turned into a series of flat collages. Eventually these became storyboards for the films and led to the hieroglyphic montage style of the completed trilogy - an approach that I had intuited when first attracted to the potential of cutouts two decades ago, but had never been able to capture on film. - Lewis Klahr

hallowed hallowed
(Kerry Laitala, U.S., 2001, 11m)
Hallowed is a 16mm film that portrays a mystical voyage made back to the beginnings of time by an unconscious woman in the throes of a cataleptic state. During this journey, she find herself in Plato's cave where flickering flames ignite a prehistoric cinematic reverie of light and shadow invoking an experience of magical proportions. She is a spectral being who is transformed from within and viewers traverse the gap between the mortal coil and the psychical self. The flames of purification melt away layers of trauma and send the dislocated psyche back into the realms of the present, emerging whole. - Kerry Laitala
angel beachangel beach
(Scott Stark, U.S., 2001, 27m)
Anonymous 3-D photographs of bikini-clad women from the early 1970s are compressed into a two-dimensional cinematic space, triggering an exuberant visual dance and revealing a troubling and elegiac voyeurism. Incarnations: free spirits take physical form in young mortal bodies on northern California beaches. Their initial movements are mere flittering gestures and awkward extensions of elbows, knees and shoulders: these are innocents unused to the strictures of the human form, joyful in the wonderment of first physical sensation. Freshly sprung from the ethereal chrysalis, they set to work, busily burrowing and crafting three dimensional baffles, channels and passageways through a screenspace that is too shallow to contain their neophytic exuberance. - Scott Stark

Total running time: 98 1/2m
Sun Oct 14: 2pm


(Robert Fenz, U.S., 2001, 14 1/2m)
Soledad (Solitude) is part three in a series of short, silent, black and white films that explore the definition of the word revolution. Shot in Mexico City, San Cristobal de las Casas (in the Mexican State of Chiapas) and New York City. The film presents Mexico in a timeless fashion and hopefully evokes a sense of various periods of time: past, future, present. The intention is to create a space where the importance of a tradition of revolution in Mexico might be contemplated.
Images of New York City were included in an effort to employ one of the potentials of cinema, that of traveling huge distances, condensing time and space into a moment and a frame. At the same time my presence and foreign relationship to Mexico and its history is implied. - Robert Fenz
(Ip Yuk-Yiu, Hong Kong, 1999, 16m)
Dear S,
Walking again in Hong Kong, everything looks so familiar and yet equally distant. A sense of displacement strikes me each time when I go back "home." Like a ridiculous tourist, I carried my camera wherever I went and took pictures whenever I could. I don't know exactly why I took those pictures. However one thing I do know for sure is that I want to capture something of this place before everything vanishes in front of my eyes.
Two weeks before Christmas, mother called and told me father was diagnosed with tongue cancer and had to operate within a month. I bought a ticket, packed my stuff and flew back to Hong Kong in the end of 1996.
It was Christmas Eve when I got back. Just at the time when everyone was celebrating Christmas (or perhaps worrying about the fateful coming of 1997), I found myself standing in front of the window and looking at the laundry outside of the house. Somehow the laundry looks awfully sad that day. I can't remember what exactly I was thinking at that time but do remember I stood there for a very long time.
The day before my father's operation, I saw news about Deng Xiaoping at a big TV monitor in frant of a shopping mall. The news said that the old man's health was doing okay. About two months later Deng died and a year later my father passed away.
introduction to living in a closed system introduction to living in a closed system
(Brittany Gravely, U.S., 2001, 17m)
A fractured educational film which introduces the complexity of the poetry of and the problems created by pastoral dreams of synthetic futures. "What each of them [Lewis Mumford and R. Buckminster Fuller] has done, really, has been to write philosophical poems celebrating a world that does not truly exist, and perhaps can never exist, even though the poems are true." - Allan Temko
have a nice day alone have a nice day alone
(Leslie Thornton, U.S., 2001, 7m)
"Elusive and compelling, Have a Nice Day Alone is surpassingly strange, even for Leslie Thornton, an acknowledged genius of the unexpected." —Alan Sondheim
Have a Nice Day Alone is Leslie Thornton’s latest transformation of media form, and perhaps her most visceral work to date. The piece begins with a bizarre and hypnotic pulsing, a sort of technological ‘nervous twitch’ activating the screen. Visible through this pulse is a text about characteristics of speech, specifically about how gesture sometimes precedes speech "before the word itself is available." The image shrinks, flows, collapses, seeming to follow some hidden agenda. Extreme forms of vocalization - yodelling, and macabre laughter - punctuate the visual space, as if from an unseen realm. As the image flutters, and the sound grows delirious, a robotic voice breaks through. Authoritative in tone, it is unclear whether the voice mimics or generates the text. Eventually a small child emerges and "calms down" the mechanomorphic entity. The robotic voice shifts from the position of a voiceover to that of a subject or character within the "film," as the child in turn interrogates the voice. No longer exterior, the voice is engaged within the mise-en-scène, interacting with the child, until it withdraws into an almost reflective repose, talking to itself. Have a Nice Day Alone elicits a palpable experience of speech, in the guise of an experience of "artificial intelligence". Given its dark tone, it ends on a oddly positive and unexpected note. The piece is as unnerving as it is pleasurable to watch, extending Thornton’s interest in the vicissitudes of language and narrative into what feels like a new form of discovery. It sings like it doesn’t have any conception of music - as if it could be the very first song. - Thomas Zummer
conquered conquered
(Kerry Laitala, U.S., 2001, 14m)
Filmed entirely at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, this film comes from the depths of a submerged self. She incorporated her own imagery with found material from German industrial films, most notably a film about a youth prison. She also ended up using images from a film she brought from the states entitled The Epic of Everest that summarized the attempt to reach the summit by mountain climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924. Mallory's body was just recently discovered below the North face, killed after a fall, his innards subsequently eaten by Goraks. Amidst the controversy over whether Mallory made the summit or not, her intent in using the Everest imagery was to describe a feeling of a frozen landscape as emotional state. As she was awestruck at its extreme beauty and chill, she felt that it perfectly portrayed an immobilized catatonic state analogous to the darkness and snow covered quietude. She was interested in simultaneously describing a psychic voyage combined with an interior vision of a distorted mindscape. Matter becomes transformed into a morass of material incoherence. She wanted the viewer to become lost in the imagery and to feel as though they were being dangled over the edge of a precipice. She merged the materials: celluloid base with alchemically manipulated surface, and found a way to crack the emulsion to yield a fragile encumbered palate - a veritable testament to the forces of organic catalysts in motion. Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain is evoked as a spectator is drawn into a confined consumptive state. When she returned home from the holidays she would joke with the relatives she had "Just come back from the sanitarium, I mean the castle." X-ray imagery of a ribcage in the film alludes to the need to see beneath the recesses, evoking a 19th-century melancholic, tubercular state. Illness or the illusion of illness becomes the manifestation of the unbalanced cacophony. Cinema becomes the only means of escape from an unstable worldview one million miles from the self. - Kerry Laitala
their idols disintegrate
(Jennifer Fieber, U.S., 2001, 12m)
I am drawn to locations which are neutral and lack an obvious human signature. Each site expresses a mute dignity, impervious to its busy, oppressive or absurd surroundings. These empty stages allow room for individual response to the equivocal play of human vanity, if one chooses to pay attention. - Jennifer Fieber

(Matt McCormick, U.S., 2001, 8m)
A textured mood swing and a trip to the beach. What does it mean to be sea worthy? Answers questioned in a slow-motion memory lapse. - Matt McCormick.
Production: night-vision video (transferred to film) and found Kodachrome. Improvised noise soundtrack: trains/static/melodian.

Total running time: 88 1/2m
Sun Oct 14: 6pm