Drawn to Life / Program


reanimating the animate

Maison des Cultures Saint-Gilles, Belgradostraat 120, Brussels. 25 & 27 November 2008
Film and video program in the context of ‘SE JETER À L’EAU’, an event organised by Atelier Graphoui.
Curated by Stoffel Debuysere and María Palacios Cruz, in cooperation with Courtisane.

“animate … v.t…. [< L. animatus, pp. of animare, to make alive, fill with breath < anima, air, soul]. l. to give life to; bring to life. 2. to make gay, energetic, or spirited. 3. to inspire. 4. to give motion to; put into action: as, the breeze animated the leaves." We all know: animation is a form of cinema. And yet, one could argue that all cinema is in fact animation, and furthermore that life itself – anima – can be understood as cinema. Our existence, inscribed in perception, imagination and memory, is constantly animated, deformed, edited. The question is whether and how we can ourselves give form to our own experiences. Certainly, the incessant flow of images in which our daily lives are submerged seems to leave little room for analysis and intervention. Its intention is that of synthesis, of a continuous illusion of life. The world is thus objectivized, but inevitably doubled, devoid of its soul, “deanimated”. The artists and filmmakers in this program attempt to revitalize perception, offering an alternative or counterweight to the ways in which technological interfaces determine our relation to the world. At the crossroads between cinematographic codes and genres, these films and videos seek to dismantle the common a priori assumptions on animation film and its limitations. Fragments of collective and individual memories are redrawn, with pencils and pixels, light, movement and (algo)rhythms, in search of new possible relations between world and representation, image and subject, dream and data, the aesthetical and the political. Animation as re-animation.


Tuesday 25.11.2008 20:00

“We know that behind every image revealed there is another image more faithful to reality, and in the back of that image there is another, and yet another behind the last one, and so on, up to the true image of that absolute, mysterious reality that no one will ever see.”
— Michelangelo Antonioni

Robert Breer

US, 1974, 16mm, colour, sound, 10′
US, 1986, 16mm, color, sound, 10′
Robert Breer has been at the forefront of experimental animation filmmaking for over half a century. His work, in which he explores the role that movement plays in understanding form and space, represents an important link between the abstract films of Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling and the avant-garde cinema tradition. “Once I avoided conventional narration and replaced it with real time”, he writes, “I could put the images together in non sequitur impositions. This might be what you call ‘daily seeing’. It might be similar to the visual and aural experience of ordinary daily life – collision of experiences”. Fuji is one of Breer’s experiences in the early 1970’s with primitive forms of rotoscoping, in which live action is redrawn image by image. Fragments of footage of a journey in Japan are transformed into a lyrical exploration of colour and form, constantly swayed between representation and abstraction, between images that refer to precise objects and alternative spaces, offering a new look at the everyday. Bang! is Breer’s most autobiographical work : an associative collage of nostalgic childhood memories and bitter-sweet contemplations.

Dirk de Bruyn
Rote Movie

AUS, 1994, 16mm, colour, sound, 12′

A road movie across the emotional landscapes of the filmmaker, whose inner monologue shares his reflections on his feelings of exile, trauma, loneliness and alienation. His state of mind is evoked by increasingly fragmented images – direct-on-film animation collage, rotoscoped animation and reworked photographic images. The material aspect of film becomes a metaphor for the devastating effect that mental stress has on the body.

Frank & Caroline Mouris
Frank Film

US, 1973, 16mm, colour, sound, 9′

“I treat objects in a very subjective way, and I treat subjects by themselves in a very objective way”, affirms Frank Mouris. He describes Frank Film as “that one personal film that you do to get the artistic inclinations out of your system before going commercial”. This animated autobiography is composed of more than 11.000 images collected from magazines and catalogues, which shift and mutate across the screen as Mouris recites a list of words beginning with the letter ‘f’. The words bounce off the images and generate an associative flow of memories, which Mouris recounts on a second track, interwoven with the recitation. The result is an obsessive and mesmerizing collage, which film critic Andrew Sarris described as “a nine-minute evocation or America’s exhilarating everythingness”.

Stuart Hilton
Six weeks in June

UK, 1998, video, b/w, sound, 6′

“11,000 miles across the USA and back in a transit van with a rock and roll band, a pencil, a stack of A6 paper and 6 weeks in June to do it”. Stuart Hilton scribbles his films in a seemingly careless way, almost as if the doodles from his notebook jumped off the pages and started to move spontaneously. The simplicity of his technique seems to rightly feed the imagination. The traces of landscapes, human figures and objects that unfold in Six weeks in June, capture perfectly the feeling of restlessness and detachment that comes with living “on the road”. The “musique concrète” collage of found sounds and conversation fragments adds an extra dimension to the impression of “daily seeing”, as Robert Breer calls it. Image and sound sway from one to the other, separated and asynchronous but nevertheless inevitably linked in a continuous game of attracting and rejecting.

Bob Sabiston
Snack and Drink

US, 1999, video, colour, sound, 3’40

Bob Sabiston invented the Rotoshop software in the 1990’s to make rotoscoping– manually tracing and redrawing existing images – possible for artists working on video. In the current image culture it is no longer possible to determine what is “animated” and what isn’t, this technology being a good example of how digital video and computer animation have the same potential when it comes to representation. Snack and Drink is one of the early experiments with the software, based on a short documentary about an autistic teenager. The image material was coloured and stylized by a dozen of animators, giving it a dreamlike quality. A few years later, Sabiston would use the same technique in films like Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001) and A Scanner Darkly (2004), as well as The Five Obstructions (2003) by Lars Von Trier en Jørgen Leth .

Josh Raskin
I met the Walrus

CA, 2007, video, colour, sound, 5’15

“In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon’s every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit, and timeless message.” Josh Raskin: “I just wanted to literally animate the words, unfurling in the way I imagined they would appear inside the head of a baffled 14-year-old boy interviewing his idol.”

LEV (Levni R. Yilmaz Esq)
Tales Of Mere Existence (selection)

US, video, b/w, sound, 5′

Tales Of Mere Existence is not necessarily about interesting stories, It is what it’s title indicates, anecdotes about the gloriously mundane. Everyday stories told not by the Devil on your right shoulder or the Angel on your left, but the voice in the middle of your head that doubts himself, questions everything, and sometimes doesn’t let you get out of bed. An unseen narrator tells the stories in a monotone voice, while his doodled illustrations come together on the screen. The stories deal with issues such as Sex, identity, and social confusion and just about anything else you would have written in your journal in High School. Tales Of Mere Existence goes for laughs in fearless ways that shock you even as you nod your head in recognition” Taylor Jessen, Animation World Network

Jonathan Hodgson
Night Club

UK, 1983, 16mm, colour, sound, 6′

Jonathan Hodgson, one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the rich British animation film scene, made this film when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art. We can already find here what would later become the main characteristics of his work, which sets its basis on the observation of the everyday and a preference for the spontaneous and the associative, in order to explore the tension between stasis and movement. “Nothing I’ve ever done has really been based on escapism”, he explained in an interview, “It’s always been about life”. Night Club is based on a series of sketches that Hodgson did in Liverpool drinking pubs. An observation of human behaviour in a social situation, hinting at the loneliness felt by the individual lost in the crowd.

Sky David
Field of Green: A Soldier’s Animated Sketchbook

US, 2007, 35mm to video, colour & b/w, sound, 8′

Like all “good Texan boys”, Sky David enlisted in the U. S. army at the end of the 1960’s. He documented his experiences of the Vietnam war in a sketchbook. These drawings remained untouched for over 30 years until he decided to make an animation film based on them. In the words of Cathy Caruth: “Trauma is not locatable on the simple violent or original event in an individual’s past, but rather in the way that its very unassimilated nature – the way that it is precisely not known in the first instance – return to haunt the survivor later on”. The film carries the scarred memory of a North Vietnamese soldier in whose rucksack David found delicate watercolours and pencil drawings. This film, according to David “happens when the “enemy” becomes a human being identical as myself. It is the film that this unknown would have made had he survived”.


Thursday 27.11.2008 20:00

“The worship of pattern, the one and only, at the expense of the subject matter from which it comes. How do we rediscover it, and how do we impart or describe it? The ultimate challenge of the future – to see without looking: to defocus! In a world where the media kneel before the altar of sharpness, draining life out of life in the process, the DEFOCUSIST will be the communicators of our era – nothing more, nothing less!”
— Lars von Trier

Kota Ezawa
The Simpson Verdict

GE/US, 2002, video, colour, sound, 3′

In his videos, slide projections and photo prints, Kota Ezawa re-animates iconic moments from his personal and cultural history. He describes this practice as a form of “video archeology”. Using primitive graphic software, he manages to extract, from the many layers of mediation, the essence of the original material – very often images that have been so frequently repeated that we seem to think we know all about them. As he says, “Stylization can transform an image from a means of representation to a direct solicitation of viewer’s emotion”. The Simpson Verdict is 3 minute video-animation of the final moments of O.J. Simpson’s trial in 1995 for the murder of his wife and her friend, as the verdict is being read out. (Note : to the surprise and dispair of many, Simpson was declared innocent, partly because many of the evidence photographs weren’t judged “truthful” enough by the jury. “Photography is no longer evidence for anything”, as read a 1982 announcement from Lucasfilm)

Jenny Perlin
Box Office

US, 2007, 16mm, b/w, silent, 2’25

Jenny Perlin: “In each aspect of my practice I take a close look at the ways in which social machinations are reflected in the smallest aspects of daily life. Whether it is copying a receipt from Wal-Mart, a headline from Reuters, or filming documentary-style interviews at the corner store, my interest is in the ways in which the sweeping statements of “History” affect specific details of human experience”. This short, hand-drawn animated film begins with a quote by Ryan C. Crocker, the current U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. In July, 2007, the New York Times quoted Crocker as comparing the current war in Iraq to a three or five-reel movie, depending on where one is living. In contrast to this quote, a list of the top-ten grossing films at the U.S. box office from the same day presents itself onscreen, along with other animated panels of related drawings that function as an associative commentary.

Ken Jacobs
Capitalism : slavery

US, 2007, video, b/w, silent, 3′

In the words of Ken Jacobs : “An antique stereograph image of cotton-pickers, computer-animated to present the scene in an active depth even to single-eyed viewers. Silent, mournful, brief.” The work of Ken Jacobs, a key figure in the post-war experimental film world, is often concerned with the cinematographical reanimation of historical image material. In many of his films and performances he dissects and manipulates existing film material, deconstructs each sequence and gesture, applies himself to texture and space and choreographs as a self-appointed “cine-puppeteer” a secondary discourse of forgotten and explored time. In his Nervous System performances he creates, with the help of two modified film projectors, so-called “eternalims” : “unfrozen slices of time, sustained movements going nowhere and unlike anything in life.” Using external shutters, which interrupt the light of both projectors alternately, a new cinematographic space is created, somewhere between 2D and 3D. This effect, similar to parallax in binocular vision – in which objects and figures appear to be at the same time in a state of suspenstion and caught in a continuous movement – has been successfully transposed to the digital domain in his recent video work. “3-D without spectacles (as if people would watch flat movies). Pummeling exercises in cinematic insistence: Let the image prevail! “.

Cathy Joritz
Negative Man

GE/US, 1985, 16 mm, b&w, sound, 2′ 30″
Give AIDS the Freeze
GE/US, 1991, 16mm, b/w, sound, 2′

Rosalind Krauss wrote in reference to the work of Cy Twombly : “the formal character of the graffito is that of a violation, the trespass onto a space that is not the graffitist’s own, the desecration of a field originally consecrated to another purpose, the effacement of that purpose through the act of dirtying, smearing, scarring, jabbing”. This could also be said of the films of Cathy Joritz, who uses various direct-on-film animation techniques to penetrate and appropiate the existing images on the celluloid. In Negative Man and Give Aids the Freeze, Joritz uses this technique to comment sarcastically on two television speeches, of a TV presenter and a psychologue respectively. In a time span of a few minutes they become the objects of a continuous transformation that is draped on them like a second, celluloid skin. Joritz’s drawings not only serve to adjust the image but also as a way to unmask the representation of authority.

Paul Glabicki
Diagram Film

US,1978, 16mm, colour, sound, 14′

“Perception is a tool” explains Paul Glabicki. His work is driven by an obsessive inclination towards analyzing his own experiences, combined with a personal research on form, time and space. His drawings, paintings, films and computer animations reflect a personal perpective that filters and processes information, encodes layers of meaning and representation, and dissects relationships of parts to the whole. For Glabicki, one single image or object can generate an endless chain of new images, relationships, memories, experiences, and associations. In Diagram Film live-action and still images of objects and places are presented and then followed by animated diagrams that explain, transform or re-interpret what has just been seen. The result is a playful exploration of the borders between the abstract and the figurative, the rational and the irrational.

Jonathon Kirk
I’ve got a guy running

US, 2006, video, b/w, sound, 7’12”

When the images from the first Gulf War appeared in the international media, it became extremely difficult to make a distinction between “real” images and computer-generated ones. Since then, this development has had an enormous impact on the way we (de)code visual information. In this video, Jonathon Kirk explores the relation between cognition and recognition of war images, a relation that has been severely affected by the influence of simulation, surveillance and real-time media coverage. Images of a precision bombing, released by the U.S. Department of Defense to the glory of the American army and its weapon suppliers, are subject to algorithms, which gradually reveal the reality that lies beneath them.

Dietmar Offenhuber
paths of g

AU, 2006, video, colour, sound, 1′

The long backwards tracking shot through a trench in Stanley Kubrick’s WWI drama Paths of Glory (1957) is reduced to pure geometry. Nothing is visible other than a matrix of rectangular figures and a line which follows the movement of the camera and counts off the spent frames. The soldiers’ corporality and the trench’s materiality are reduced to an abstract configuration of digital forms and values, surveyed by the camera’s mechanism – the single-frame transport, used for the first time during WWI, changing for once and for all the perception of war. In a certain way, this reduction gives a more accurate image of the first industrialized war in history than Kubrick’s original version. As Paul Virilio wrote in Guerre et cinéma: “as sight lost its direct quality and reeled out of phase, the soldier had the feeling of being not so musch destroyed as derealized and dematerializes, any sensory point of reference suddenly vanishing in a surfeit of optical targets”. It is precisely the conscious reduction within the film, the purely mechanical, geometric values which are able to reveal the true violence of this war. The fictionalized fact is not necessary, removing the sense from existing images suffices to return to the historically factual qua ‘techno-imagination’ (Vilém Flusser). The viewer sees less but learns more.

Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács
Prime Time Paradise

NL, 2004, video, colour, silent, 11′

“We consume images at an ever faster rate and images consume reality”, wrote Susan Sontag in On Photography. While in that book she pled passionately for an “economy of images”, she would later admit that it could no longer be spoken of . “In our digital hall of mirrors, the pictures aren’t going to go away”, she wrote when the images of Abu Ghraib were published. “Yes, it seems that one picture is worth a thousand words. And there will be thousands more snapshots and videos. Unstoppable.” However, the potential force of images can be diminished by their overproduction and by the incessant search of dramatic impact, in a culture in which the shock effect appears as an stimulus for consumption. “How do you deal with the constant flow of information : do you turn yourself away or do you try to create a new, meaningful structure ?” Margit Lukács asks herself. In Prime Time Paradise Broersen and Lukács have frozen a number of images from the daily flow of news reports in a spatial collage, an infernal media landscape of conflict, death and depravation.The impact is postponed, the gaze renewed.

Karl Tebbe
Infinite Justice

GE, 2006, video, colour, sound, 2′

“La Guerre du Golfe n’a jamais eu lieu” (The Gulf War did not take place), affirmed Jean Baudrillard at the beginning of the 1990’s. The war he was referring to was a television war, produced as a soap series in which news announcements became trailers, content was delivered in daily episodes, and the show was perpetuated by a number of film sequels and video games. Nothing has changed much since then. Whoever controls the images, controls the war. “War-making and picture-taking are congruent activities”, wrote Susan Sontag about the current war in Iraq. “Television, whose access to the scene is limited by government controls and by self-censorship, serves up the war as images.” With Infinite Justice, Karl Tebbe deconstructs and interrogates the public image (and image experience) of war, embedded in the omnipresent television reality. Fragments from war reports shown on German television were re-animated frame by frame with “action figures” sold in the USA. “This isn’t Disney. Not Team America. This is war”.

Stephen Andrews
The Quick and the Dead

CA, 2004, video, color, sound, 1’30”

According to Stephen Andrews, “the cracks sometimes mean more than the picture”. The Canadian artist is aware of the erosion of the image as a form of testimony. With his drawings and videos, he seeks to “slow down the gaze”, through a process of reanimation. Existing images and sequences are reconstructed by hand and meticuously recreated as pencil drawings, underlining the tension between the subjectivity of the drawer and the objectivizing role that digital visual technology plays. “I have always been fascinated by technology because it can never do what the hand can do, which is to fail miserably. The machine can draw a perfectly straight line – the hand refuses. Technology thus becomes a prosthesis for our shortcomings. When I in turn render by hand what the machine has wrought, my intention is to decipher the medium’s message”. The Quick and the Dead is based on a short clip that Andrews found on the Internet – one of the many dehumanized images of “collateral damage” that have reached us from Iraq these past years. “A moment of random death is given consideration through the human act of retouching” (Atom Egoyan).

Carolee Schneemann
Viet Flakes

US, 1965, 16 mm film to video, bIw, sound, 7′

Viet Flakes was conceived as the central part of Snows, a Carolee Schneemann performance in reaction to the war in Vietnam. A shocking reflection on the violence and representation of war, the film is built as an obsessive collage of photographic images taken from magazines and newspapers, “animated” by Schneemann’s Super 8 camera’s travelling “within” the images. The visual fragmentation is heightened by a sound collage by James Tenney. “Schneemann constructs a sense of the violent dimensions of the war at a time when the true impact of the Vietnam War was scarcely understood. Using film as a plastic medium to create a metadocument, Schneemann gives the viewer a sense of the dimension of these atrocities, puts the war in a human perspective and goes directly to the source of the catastrophe, much in the way that the great Greek dramatists were able to situate tragedy so convincingly” (Robert C. Morgan).


Thanks to Sky David, Dirk de Bruyn, Kota Ezawa, Jonathan Hodgson, Ken Jacobs, Jonathon Kirk, LEV, Frank & Caroline Mouris, Jenny Perlin, Bob Sabiston, Karl Tebbe, Mike Sperlinger (LUX), Christophe Bichon & Emmanuel Lefrant (Lightcone), Dominic Angerame (Canyon), Michaela Grill (Sixpack), Wanda vanderStoop (Vtape), Theus Zwakhals (Montevideo), Rebecca Cleman (EAI), Jeff Crawford (CFMDC), : jerry levitan, chris kennedy (vtape), Edwin Carels, Pieter-Paul Mortier (STUK), Dirk Deblauwe (Courtisane), Brett Kashmere, Jacques Faton (ERG / Atelier Graphoui)

The Order of Things / Program


12, 19, 26 september 2008, Muhka_Media, Antwerp

Film program in the context of the exhibition with the same title at MuHKA, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (11th September 2008 > 4th January 2009). Curated by Stoffel Debuysere and María Palacios Cruz.

From September 11th until January 4th MuHKA presents The Order of Things, an exhibition about the uses of image archives and other manifestations of a classificatory or “encyclopaedic” impulse in contemporary art. Within this context, MuHKA_media will host six screening programs dealing with the recuperation and reconfiguration of “found” images in film and video. The makers of these works use bits and scraps from the media reality surrounding us as a basis for the construction of new meanings, in search of a poetry of movement, a syntax of fragmentation, bringing divergent elements together in a system of construction in which they belong: cinema. Based on a series of codes and axioms, cinema can be subject to multiple forms of ideological appropriation, both cinematographic and meta-cinematographic, as well as on a micro-level – each shot is itself a succession of frames. In these film and video works the meaning and the hierarchy of images become subordinated to a new logic, a subversive, narrative or totalizing order taken out of the ‘infinite cinema’, the world in/as images.


  • 12.09.2008: THE ORDER OF THINGS 1
    Arthur Lipsett retrospective

    Introduced by curator and filmmaker Brett Kashmere

    Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett (1936-1986) is a key figure in post-war avant-garde cinema. Through his kaleidoscopic collages of “found” images and sounds, he configures his reluctant vision of the ‘condition humaine’ – a view of the world scarred by the alienating effects of science and technology. The juxtaposition of divergent pieces of socio-political history and popular culture of the 20th century unfolds itself as a symbolic representation of the collective (sub) conscience of Western society.

    20:00 LOST & FOUND

    This program brings together Arthur Lipsett’s first, and better known, five films, produced at the National Film Board of Canada across the 1960’s. His stimulating collage strategies, associating image and sound in both ironic and ambiguous ways, would become a source of inspiration for filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and Stan Brakhage.

    Very Nice, Very Nice
    1961, 16mm, b&w, sound, 7’

    Lipsett’s first film received an Academy Award nomination in 1962. A collage of sounds and images, found as well as shot by Lipsett himself, which reads as a sardonic interpretation of 1950’s consumerism, mass media and popular culture, punctuating the often over-looked damage left by both war and technological progress.

    A Trip Down Memory Lane
    1965, 16mm, b&w, sound, 12’

    A surrealist time capsule combining fifty years of newsreel footage, this film constitutes a brief, but explosive, tour of post-war technocracy. Lipsett’s first pure collage film, composed exclusively from stock image and sound from the National Film Board archives.

    1964, 16mm, b&w, sound, 10’

    A wry comment on a machine-dominated society, filled with dystopian symbolism. This film conveys Lipsett’s concern for an increasingly de-humanized civilization, foreshadowing his embryonic agoraphobia and subsequent withdrawal from public life. The title would be cited more than once in George Lucas’s work, serving, for example, as Princess Leia’s cell number in Star Wars.

    Free Fall
    1964, 16mm, b&w, sound, 9’

    Using a brisk “single-framing” technique, dazzling pixilation effects, in-camera superimpositions and syncopated rhythms, Lipsett attempts to create a synesthesic experience through the intensification of image and sound. The soundtrack was intended as collaboration with composer John Cage, who withdrew from the project fearing Lipsett would attempt to control and thereby undermine the aleatory organization of audio and visuals.

    1968, 16mm, b&w, sound, 24’

    Lipsett completed this film during a period of declining institutional support and increased psychological stress, which would result in more pessimistic, diffuse work. A “phantasmagoria of nothing”, based on a series of creative frictions between military motif, religious rhetoric, newsreel footage and obscure science fiction film dialogues.

    ** 65’, prints courtesy National Film Board of Canada



    Two seldom screened works from Arthur Lipsett’s late-career, closer to the Beat ethos of previous decades than to the acerbic collage style that made him famous. The title of the program is borrowed from the fragmentary notes and diagrams that Lipsett made for Strange Codes, evincing his debilitating paranoia and isolation, as well as an urgent faith in magic.

    1970, 16mm, b&w, sound, 43’

    Lipsett’s most personal film and a departure from his associative montage style. Found images are alternated with scenes of Lipsett and his friends alone and in casual conversation, enacting an unspoken confrontation between unbridled individuality and social conformity. Whereas his older works shaped the dull remains of documentary outtakes into a razor-sharp satire of Cold War suspicion, repression and nuclear escalation, N-Zone documents a private quest for spiritual transcendence.

    Strange Codes
    1972, 16mm, b&w, sound, 23’

    Lipsett’s last completed project is both a riddle and “an index to his other films”. The artist’s apartment becomes the stage for a disjunctive, live-action self-portrait, intensified with numerous costume changes, masks, constructed props and sets, as well as references to his earlier films. The result is a looping concoction of serious play and light mysticism.

    ** 70’, prints courtesy National Film Board of Canada & La Cinémathèque québécoise


  • 19.09.2008: THE ORDER OF THINGS 2
    Poetics of Collage

    A series of films in which found footage – submitted to various realignments, interruptions and interpolations – has been reorganized in a poetical form. How can putting together fragments of the world create new meanings, new ways of thinking, looking and listening? For what purposes were these images originally created and constructed, and what new vitality, force and desire might erupt by deconstructing them? How to connect elements distant in time and space, in an attempt to take a grasp on the world we live in, dig below and behind the surface, in search of the unspoken, the suppressed, the innate?


    Abigail Child
    Surface Noise

    2000, 16mm, colour, sound, 18’

    Abigail Child’s complex audiovisual sonatas investigate, interrogate and interpret contemporary social realities; mainly the construction of gender identity and behaviour in public and private spaces. Deploying a number of strategies – vertical montage, asymptotic convergence, sound and noise juxtapositions – she recycles meaning out of the informational chaos and dismantles predetermined notions and narratives, drawing the attention to what happens in the margins, the gazes, poses and gestures we ourselves are hardly aware of. The sound montage was created in collaboration with New York musicians Zeena Parkins, Christian Marclay, Shelley Hirsch and Jim Black.

    Alan Berliner
    Everywhere at once

    1985, 16mm, colour, sound, 10’

    A musical montage, a synchronised symphony composed from an infinity of elements taken from Berliner’s own personal archive of cultural artefacts and residues: piano cords and cable cars, cocktail jazz and broken glass, loony tunes and telephones, elephants and xylophones, violins and vultures, orchestras and roller coasters… A journey in images at the rhythm of sound. With this sort of “bricolage”, Berliner attempts to bridge a wide range of poetic horizons: the actual with the possible, pre-history with science fiction, magic with science fact, the medium with the message.

    Frank & Caroline Mouris
    Frank Film

    1973, 35mm, colour, sound, 9’

    Frank Mouris’s animated autobiography composed of more than 11.000 images collected from magazines and catalogues, which shift and mutate across the screen as Mouris recites a list of words beginning with the letter ‘f’. The words bounce off the images and generate an associative flow of memories, which Mouris recounts on a second track, interwoven with the recitation. The result is an obsessive and mesmerizing collage, which film critic Andrew Sarris described as “a nine-minute evocation or America’s exhilarating everythingness”. This film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1973.

    Bruce Conner
    A Movie

    1958, 16mm, b&w, sound, 12’

    The debut film of Bruce Conner, recently deceased, and an undeniable cornerstone in the art of collage filmmaking. Inspired by the surrealist poetry of zapping, the aesthetics of film trailers and the use of archive material in the Marx Brothers comedy Duck Soup, Conner spent many years working in what he would call a “universal film”, the world reflected in a compendium of symbolic images from newsreel, fiction films, educational material and softcore porno. As Patricia Mellencamp has pointed out, it’s “a history of cinema as catastophe” that “becomes the history of Western culture or the United States – a history of colonial conquest by technology, resolutely linking, sex, death, and cinema – questioning our very desire for cinema.”

    Chick Strand
    Loose Ends

    1979, 16mm, b&w, sound, 25’

    A collage film about the process of internalizing the information that bombards us through a combination of personal experience and media in all forms. These fragmented images of life, sometimes shared by all, sometimes isolated and obscure, but with common threads, speed through our senses in large numbers and complicated mixtures of fantasy, dream and reality. Chick Strand leads us to a state of psychological entropy tending toward a uniform inertness … an insensitive lack of involvement in the ‘condition humaine’ and our own humanity.

    William Farley

    1986, 16mm, b&w, sound, 7’

    An affirmative vision of life and death, in memory of the artist’s brother, built entirely out of archive images from the 1950’s and 1960’s – a ship launching, a tree falling, a woman dancing, …, impersonal subjects that become icons and metaphors for our most personal thoughts. Image after image emerge from darkness, reminding us of the purity and conflict that are always part of our collective experience of existence. The Music is by David Byrne.

    ** 81’



    Simon Pummell

    2003, 35mm, colour, sound, 83’

    Simon Pummell’s first feature film is an epic story of love, sex, violence, death and dreams: the story of human life, told by means of an impressive collage of images from around the world and across 100 years of cinema history. A seemingly endless succession of fragments of silent films, newsreels, documentaries and home movies serves as a meditation on the micro and macroscopical order of people’s lives. The hypnotic soundtrack is by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. An interactive version of this work is available on www.bodysong.com.

    ** 83’


  • 26.09.2008: THE ORDER OF THINGS 3
    On Axioms and Images

    A series of films that explore the conceptual space of “compilation films” at the same time that they question the conventional ordering principles of montage. How does meaning result from a linear organization of images? Is there such a thing as a logic of chance? Does every random succession of film bits imply a unity, an order within chaos, a secret route to the imagination? Is narrative, as Hollis Frampton suggested in his so-called “Brakhage’s theorem”, a fixed axiom in cinema? : “For any finite series of shots (‘film’) whatsoever there exists in real time a rational narrative, such that every term in the series, together with its position, duration, partition and reference shall be perfectly and entirely accounted for”.


    Thom Andersen & Malcolm Brodwick
    — ——-

    1966-67, 16mm, colour, sound, 11’

    Images from the rock ’n’ roll world of the 1960’s, organized according to a predetermined structure. A sequence of picture-sound equations with randomly chosen terms: vertically, it is completely structured, horizontally, it is completely random. « A pastiche of cinematography, a parody of montage ». With this film Thom Andersen demonstrates the power of a rule as a constructing principle, thus undermining the conventional codes of montage and documentary filmmaking. The result is a stimulating mosaic that ignores the urge for representation and topic information, but instead, as crystallization of an era, tends towards the functioning of the human memory.

    Morgan Fisher
    ( )

    2003, 16mm, colour/b&w, silent, 21’

    A film that originates in Morgan Fisher’s fascination with inserts: close-ups of newspaper headlines, letters and similar sorts of significant details that have to be included for the sake of clarity in narrative films, indispensable and marginal at the same time. With () – the title is a reference to — ——- by Thom Andersen and Malcolm Brodwick – Fisher has made a film entirely composed of inserts, as a way of making them visible and releasing them from their ungrateful instrumental role. The shots, extracted from a variety of films, were organized according to an arbitrary (and never explained) rule. Freed from their servitude to stories, the inserts are given a new freedom, as components of a fictitious array, an organizational model that attempts to escape the linearity of cinema: like an arrangement in space, which is scanned in time.

    Norbert Pfaffenbichler
    Mosaik Mécanique

    2007, 35mm, b/w, sound, 9’30”

    The third part of Pfaffenbichler’s ‘Notes on Film’ series, which borrows its title from a combination of Fernand Leger’s Ballet Mecanique and Peter Kubelka’s Mosaik in Vertrauen. All the shots of the slapstick comedy A Film Johnnie (USA, 1914) are shown simultaneously in a symmetrical grid, one after the other. Each scene, from one cut to the next, from the first to the last frame, is looped. Spatialization takes the place of temporality, synchronism that of chronology. A polyrhythmic kaleidoscope is produced as a result (reflected in Bernhard Lang’s music), tearing the audience back and forth between an analytic way of seeing rhythmic patterns and the impulse to (re)construct a plot.

    Christoph Girardet
    Random Cuts

    1993, video, colour, sound, 3’20”

    This video work is composed of 12 film clips, each 1.6 seconds long, cut and mounted according to a certain mathematical principle. The images show “cuts” of a cockfight, a samurai duel, a cartoon battle – signs of aggression, which simply flashed up in the original material, gradually reveal their violent content. As the segments unfold in 12 consecutive phases, a certain logic is formed. Everything is assigned its place, and order is re-established.

    Lenka Clayton
    Qaeda Quality Question Quickly Quickly Quiet

    2002, video, colour, sound, 20’

    Lenka Clayton’s work is an exploration and interrogation of the “natural” order of things. Using organising systems and interventions to disrupt accepted modes of language and behaviour, she questions the authority of all forms of documentation as a referent of the original events. The concept for this ‘mash up’ video is a simple one: Clayton took the 4100 words from George W. Bush’s infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech and edited them in alphabetical order. The result is a powerful dissection of the posturing, rhetoric and obsessions dominating the post 9/11 American politics.

    ** 65’



    Hollis Frampton
    Zorns Lemma

    1970, 16mm, colour, sound, 60’

    Zorns Lemma is arguably the veritable master piece of American filmmaker Hollis Frampton. It combines a number of intellectual and aesthetic issues that Frampton had already explored in his earlier films and photographic work, especially his fascination with epistemology and set theory – the title is a reference to mathematician Max Zorn’s equivalent to the Axiom of Choice. The film is structured according to an axiomatic system, expressed both in ontological and structural codes. The central part consists of images of words, assembled in alphabetical order – a reference to the Encyclopedic movement and the arbitrary tendency to categorize the World on the basis of the first letter of the object name. The ideograms gradually make place for arbitrary images, as a result of which an ingenious game between language and image is installed, inciting the audience to dismantle the control structures and discover the logic of chance.

    ** 60’

    Thanks to : Brett Kashmere, the National Film Board of Canada, the Belgian Royale Film Archive, Mike Sperlinger & Benjamin Cook (LUX), Christophe Bichon (Lightcone), Lauren Sorensen (Canyon), Michaela Grill (Sixpack), Tessa Williams (Pathé UK), Ann Schepens (A-film), Janine Marmot (Hot Property Films), Morgan Fisher, Simon Pummell, Frank & Caroline Mouris, Abigail Child, William Farley, Edwin Carels, Pieter-Paul Mortier (STUK), Dirk Deblauwe (Courtisane).

    Ghosting the Image / Program


    The recuperation and citation of images is a film practice as old as cinema itself, and one of the principal strategies within the traditions of avant-garde film and video. In so-called «found-footage films», bits and scraps from the media reality surrounding us are not only taken out of their context and accorded new meanings, but also serve as a basis for critical reflection and analysis. For recycled images call attention to themselves as ‘images’, as products of the cinema and broadcasting industry, as part of the endless stream of information, entertainment and persuasion that constitutes the media-saturated environment of modern life.

    The film and video works featured in the programme Ghosting the Image disrupt the usual rhetoric of the media spectacle, characterized by stability and linearity, and turn it against itself. By destabilizing dominant narrative structures and exploring the limits of representation, these works reveal how time, perception and memory are organised. By dismantling the illusion, these films and videos unmask the ambiguity and vulnerability of images, revealing what is being systematically ignored, repressed or left out. As if for a moment the veil of our eyes was lifted, only to find a world of images staring back at us.

    Curated by Stoffel Debuysere and Maria Palacios Cruz for the Courtisane Festival, Ghent, Belgium (21-27 April 2008). A selection of these films will also be shown at WORM, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (8-9 May 2008).

    1. Thu 24.04 23:00 (Cinema Sphinx) // LATE NIGHT TALES

    Peter Tscherkassky
    Outer Space

    AT, 1999, 10’, 35mm, b/w, sound
    Fragments of a Hollywood horror movie were recycled, recaptured and re-exposed frame by frame, resulting in a disquieting confrontation with the codes of narrative-representational cinema and the unearthly qualities of the film apparatus. This is a penetrating cinema that tears itself apart, a journey of self-destruction exploding into unimaginable beauty.

    Pere Portabella
    Vampir Cuadecuc

    ES, 1970, 67’, 35mm, b/w, sound
    A hallucinatory reflection on the conventions of horror film. Portabella, a key figure of the Spanish underground film scene, not only documents the shooting of Jesús Franco’s Count Dracula, but also creates, by the means of for instance eliminating colour or using an eerie electronic soundtrack, an alternative version of the original story, revealing at the same time the ways cinematographic illusion is constructed.

    2. Fri 25.04 23:00 (Cinema Sphinx) // DISSONANT RESONANCE

    Ken Jacobs
    Perfect Film

    US, 1986, 22’, 16mm, b/w, sound
    The rushes of a news report on the assassination of Malcolm X, just as they were found on a bin. Jacobs: “A lot of film is perfect left alone, perfectly revealing in its un- or semi-conscious form. I wish more stuff was available in its raw state, as primary source material for anyone to consider, and to leave for others in just that way, the evidence uncontaminated by compulsive proprietary misapplied artistry, ‘editing,’ the purposeful ‘pointing things out’ that cuts a road straight and narrow through the cine-jungle, we barrel through thinking we’re going somewhere and miss it all.”

    Arthur Lipsett

    CA, 1968, 23’, 16mm, b/w, sound

    Lipsett unfolds his pessimistic vision on the ‘condition humaine’ in an associative jigsaw of found footage. The juxtaposition of divergent episodes of history and popular culture of the 20th century culminates into “a phantasmagoria of nothing”, a somber but urgent reflection on the alienating effects of science and technology, the ruling religions of the Western world.

    Abigail Child

    US, 1989, 10’, 16mm, colour, sound

    The last chapter of the series Is This What You Were Born For?, Child’s investigation on the cultural construction of gender identity, sexuality and voyeurism. Through a rhythmic collage of industrial and self-made recordings, pieces of dialogue, music and noise, she dissects the games the mass media play with our private perceptions, drawing the attention to what happens in the margins, the gazes, poses and gestures we ourselves are hardly aware of.

    Peter Kubelka
    Unsere Afrikareise

    AT, 1966, 13’, 16mm, colour, sound

    In 1961 Kubelka was hired to document the African Safari of a group of European tourists. Afterwards he hijacked the recorded material and edited it into an analysis of the many layers of violence present in the hunt, the gaze of the hunters and the film itself. The fragmentary and asynchronic montage of images and sounds generates a multitude of connections and associations which, in their turn, evoke a number of metaphorical interpretations.

    Stan Brakhage
    Murder Psalm

    US, 1981, 17’, 16mm, colour, silent

    A filmic exorcism of a murder fantasy, drenched in repressed memories and fragments of violent media culture. Brakhage combines educational film footage, television war coverage and Disney cartoons and creates a silent meditation on the world of children today; a world fully surrendered to the mercy of destructive forces. Inspired by some passages of Dostoevsky’s The Diary of a Writer.

    3. Sa 26.04 15:00 (Cinema Sphinx) // REMEDIAL RESPONSE

    Luther Price
    Jellyfish Sandwich

    US, 1994, 17’, S8mm, colour, sound

    A hypnotic pattern juxtaposing shots of Hawaiian beaches, Chinese ideograms, aerial bombing footage and American football reads as a vague dream sequence, reinforced by a slightly accelerated medley by the Carpenters. With his films Price tries to take a grasp on the breaches, breakdowns and eventual collapse of family, society, body and life itself, in the face of unstoppable philosophical forces.

    Naomi Uman

    US, 1999, 6’, 16mm, colour, sound

    Using nail polish remover and household bleach, Uman erased the female figures from an old and forgotten porn film. The wriggling holes in the film become erotic zones, blanks on which a fantasy body is projected, creating a new pornography.

    Cathy Joritz
    Negative Man

    DE/US, 1985, 3′, 16mm, b/w, sound

    By drawing directly on the celluloid, Joritz comments sarcastically on the speech of an American TV presenter. In a time span of a few minutes he becomes the object of a continuous transformation that is draped on him like a second, celluloid skin. Joritz’s drawings not only serve to adjust the image but also as a way to unmask the representation of authority.

    Owen Land
    Fleming Faloon

    US, 1963, 7’, 16mm, colour, sound

    The first 16mm film by Land (formerly known as George Landow) is told to be a source of inspiration for Warhol’s Screen Tests. The image of a staring TV presenter is subjected to a series of manipulations, questioning the optical ambiguity of cinema. Land suggests that if we accept the reality offered to us by the illusion of depth on the flat plane of the screen, we can then willingly ascribe anything as real.

    Maurice Lemaître
    Un Navet

    FR, 1976, 31’, 16mm, colour, sound

    A sparkling example of Lemaître’s ‘anti-cinema’, in which he exhorts the audience to revel in cinematographic disgust. He comments tongue-in-cheek on a series of outtakes of commercial films, provocatively summoning the audience to react, and at the same time creates a sensual experience by manually colouring and drawing directly on the film.

    4. Sa 26.04 16:30 (Cinema Sphinx) // STORIES UNTOLD

    Robert Ryang

    US, 2005, 2’, video, colour, sound

    A remixed trailer for Kubrick’s The Shining that adds a totally new meaning to the original, turning the horror classic into a romantic comedy family flick. In doing so, Ryang dismantles the strategies used in conventional Hollywood trailers, revealing them as torturing pretexts and false promises in a tight narrative corset. This video also set a trend for the wave of mash-ups on the Internet.

    Matthias Muller
    Home Stories

    DE, 1990, 6’, 16mm, colour, sound

    A collage based on clichés and stereotypes of 1950’s and 1960’s Hollywood melodramas. Muller transforms a range of female gestures and movements into a grammatical construction of paradigmatic elements and condensates them into an elegy of fear. The film does not only comment on the gender politics of classic cinema, but also exposes our own voyeuristic gaze.

    Luther Price
    The Mongrel Sister

    US, 2007, 7’, 16mm, colour, sound

    A handful of unrelated scenes from obscure instructional and fiction movies were edited together into an intense and shocking psychodrama. In his works – very often unique prints – Price creates a staggering universe of penetrating images, insistent rituals and disrupted film material, in which he deals merciless with his obsessions; hermetic but visceral evocations of emotional disturbance on the verge of psychosis.

    Martin Arnold
    Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy

    AT, 1998, 15’, 16mm, b&w, sound

    Third part of a trilogy in which Arnold deconstructs a series of classic Hollywood films, through a process of compulsive repetition. Scenes and gestures are surgically dissected and moulded into neurotic rhythms, turning the hidden messages of sex and violence inside out. The stuttering sounds raise the underlying tensions until they are on the verge of bursting out.

    Nina Fonoroff
    Some Phases of an Empire

    1984, 9’, S8mm, colour, sound

    A reconfiguration of images from Quo Vadis, the 1951 epic Hollywood spectacle, rephotographed and edited into a densely layered contemplation of themes such as power, sexuality and aggression. The soundtrack, which includes a spoken version of the children’s book “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, accentuates the subjacent tensions in the original film.

    Ken Jacobs
    The Doctor’s Dream

    US, 1978, 25’, 16mm, b/w, sound

    A reinterpretation of a 1950’s television drama. Jacobs reedited the film radically, starting with the shot that was numerically the middle shot, followed by the shots that came inmediately before and after, only to continue skipping back and forth. The deconstruction of the linear structure unravels a strong sexual echo, hidden in the triviality of the original story.

    Maurice Lemaitre
    The Song of Rio Jim

    FR, 1978, 6’, 16 mm, b/w, sound

    A homage to Hart and Ince, mythical ancestors of the Western film. The narrative structure on the soundtrack develops as a traditional cowboys-and-indians tale, but the spectator is denied any access to a visual representation of what is being heard. The screen remains black, leaving us to our own memory and imagination. The radical use of monochrome images questions the basic conditions of cinema, exploring the relation between hearing and seeing.

    5. Sa 26.04 19:30 (Artcentre Vooruit) // TIME AFTER TIME

    Saul Levine
    The Big Stick / An Old Reel

    US, 1973, 11’, 16mm, b/w, silent

    Levine spent six years reediting 8mm prints of some of Charlie Chaplin’s shorts which he juxtaposed with television images of an anti-war protest. A self-study in montage, narrative ascesis and the amazing power of caustic rhythms, it serves at the same time as a a subtle comment on the duality of society in North-America, torn between passivity and activism, privilege and exclusion.

    David Rimmer

    CA, 1984, 11’, 16mm, colour & b/w, sound

    A reflection on the nature of the cinematographic image and the quality of perception, based on a diverse range of television footage. Rimmer isolates specific passages, intervenes radically on the texture and structure of the film and explores the relation between statis and movement. The repetition, deceleration, and spatio-temporal dislocation of images and sounds provoke the building of a metaphysical tension.

    Keith Sanborn
    Operation Double Trouble

    US, 2003, 10’, video, colour, sound

    A “détournement” of a propaganda film produced by the American army. By repeating each shot twice, Sanborn pushes the strategic manipulations of the original, both in terms of montage and ideology, bare to the surface. The echoing effect destabilizes the transparency of the narrative codes and provides an insight into the functioning of audiovisual media and our way of relating to it.

    Kirk Tougas
    The Politics of Perception

    CA, 1973, 33’, 16mm,colour, sound

    Segments from the trailer of The Mechanic, an action flick with Charles Bronson, are continuously repeated over a period of a half hour. The sound and image quality constantly deteriorate until both picture and sound assume the status of “noise”. The “mechanic” Bronson, as a protagonist of destruction caught in an endless loop, is a metaphor for mechanized perception, photographical reproduction, cultural production and consumption.

    6. Su 26.04 16:30 (Cinema Sphinx) // GLANCING BACK

    Vanessa Renwick
    Britton, South Dakota

    US, 2003, 9’, 16mm to video, b/w, sound

    An intriguing film built out of portraits of children on the streets of a deserted city in the 1930’s. Their brutally honest staring gaze betrays an image of a world without images, as well as the perspective of an uncertain future that already belongs to the past. James Benning: “Not only found footage, but a found film made 60-some years ago directly addressing contemporary structural concerns.”

    Brian Frye
    Oona’s Veil

    US, 2000, 8’, 16mm, b/w, sound

    A short screen test of Oona Chaplin, her only film-record, is reconstructed into an intense meditation on seeing and being seen. The original shot was rephotographed, mutilated, exposed to chemicals and even buried. The result is an unearthly film portrait, with occasional spots of black emulsion, creating a continuously shifting exchange of glances between the image and the spectator.

    Lewis Klahr
    Her Fragrant Emulsion

    US, 1987, 10’, 16mm, colour, sound

    An obsessional homage to Mimsy Farmer, a 1960’s sexploitation movie star. Strips of cut-up 8mm film are glued into a collage, projected and re-photographed. Klahr’s internal montage emphasizes the materiality of film and uncovers the subtle incisions and gestures of the not-too-subtle narrative original.

    Morgan Fisher
    Standard Gauge

    US, 1984, 35’, 16mm, colour, sound

    An autobiographical account of Fisher’s experiences as an editor in the commercial film industry during the early seventies. Filming a succession of divergent film scraps rejected at the editing stage, Fisher comments on the origin and meaning of each image, thus exploring the mechanisms and conditions of film production, in both its materialistic and institutional aspects.

    Thanks to Dominic Angerame (Canyon), Martin Arnold, Joke Ballintijn (Montevideo), Christophe Bichon (Lightcone), Brigitta Burger-Utzer (Sixpack), Abigail Child, Pip Chodorov (Re:voir), Benjamin Cook (LUX), Xavier García Bardon (Bozar Cinema), Morgan Fisher, Nina Fonoroff, Brian Frye, Helena Gomà (Films 59), Michaella Grill (Sixpack), Will Hanke (no.w.here), Ken and Flo Jacobs, Brett Kashmere, Richard Kerr, Helena Kritis (MuHKA), Saul Levine, Marie Losier, Mark McElhatten, JJ Murphy, Mark Nash, Pieter-Paul Mortier (STUK), Pere Portabella, Luther Price, Vanessa Renwick, William Rose, Robert Ryang, Keith Sanborn, Mike Sperlinger (LUX), Astria Suparak, Peter Taylor (Worm), Anabel Vázquez, Mark Webber, Karl Winter (FDK)…

    ARTIST IN FOCUS: Ben Rivers


    ARTIST IN FOCUS: Ben Rivers

    21 Apr 2008, Sphinx, Gent.
    Program produced by Courtisane as part of the Courtisane Festival 2008 (21-27 April 2008)

    At the 2008 edition of Courtisane, British film director Ben Rivers is placed centrally. Rivers is the co-founder of the Brighton Cinematheque and has been making movies since 1999. His recent works are mysterious impressionist films in which loners, abandoned places and memory play the leading roles. Ben Rivers’ films are drenched in a spooky spiritualism, like bits of dreams that find their way into your consciousness. Rivers documents his subjects carefully. Abandoned buildings illustrate their own decay, landscapes draw themselves, stories from the past come in a shade of mystery, a cocoon breaks gently and becomes a subtle poetic portrait of an Einzelgänger. He hand-processes film and prefers black and white film stock with a thick, tactile grain, that’s why his films bare resemblance to documentaries from decades ago. Ben Rivers kicks off the festival with a compilation of his own work and a selection of his favourite filmmakers.

    Old Dark House
    2003, 16mm, b/w, 4′

    “Rooms in an abandoned, burnt out house revealed by multiple in-camera superimpositions of a single torch-light. This marked the start of my hand-processing film, which I continued to use from then on.”

    2005, 16mm, b/w, 5′

    “My first sequel. Another old dark house, where only fragments remain of a once animated domestic history, reoccupied by a history of horror films. Crumbling interiors. Stained, peeling walls and forgotten furniture. Dust sheets on rotting floorboards. The unfolding process of abandonment, decay and renewal. All made on a 1:12 scale.”

    The Bomb with a Man in his Shoe
    2005, 16mm, b/w, 15′

    “The closest I’ve come to doing a commercial – commissioned to show in fancy boutiques in Japan, USA and Europe. Initially supposed to be a few minutes long, the film began as a very loose kind of documentary, where I would turn up with my bolex and lights once a week over a two-month period, filming the various stages of making 400 pairs of shoes. All the superimpositions were done in-camera on out-of-date stock, hand-processed as I went along. As the filming progressed I felt we needed to get outside, to see what would happen on a few walks in the great outdoors. It’s pretty senseless.”

    The Hyrcynium Wood
    2005, 16mm, b/w, 3′

    “I found the title in an out of date Thesaurus looking up the word ‘mystery’ – which is essentially what this film remains to me.”

    The Coming Race
    2006, 16mm, b/w, 5′

    “A film in which thousands of people climb a rocky mountain terrain. The destination and purpose of their ascension remains unclear. A vague, mysterious and unsettling pilgrimage fraught with unknown intentions.”

    2006, 16mm, color, 8′

    “A portrait of Astika, who lives on an island in Denmark. He has lived in a run down farm house for 15 years and his project has been to let the land around him grow unchecked, but now he has been forced to move out by people who prefer more pristine neighbours.”

    This Is My Land
    2006, 16mm, b/w, 14′

    “A portrait of Jake Williams – who lives alone within miles of forest in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Jake always has many jobs on at any one time, finds a use for everything, is an expert mandolin player, and has compost heaps going back many years. He has a different sense of time to most people in the 21st Century, which is explicitly expressed in his idea for creating hedges by putting up bird feeders.”

    Dove Coup/Greenhouse
    2007, 16mm, b/w + col, 2×2′

    Two sketches

    Ah, Liberty!
    2008, anamorphic 16mm, b/w, 20′

    “A celebratory portrait of a family’s place in the wilderness – living, working, playing on a farm throughout the seasons; free-range animals and children, junk and nature, all within the most sublime landscape. The work aims at a sense of freedom, the scale of which is reflected in the hand-processed Cinemascope format, and focuses on the youngest of the family to show us what’s what. There’s no particular story; beginning, middle or end, just fragments of lives lived.”

    Laurel & Hardy
    Big Business

    US, 1929, 16mm on video, b/w, 19′

    A common routine Laurel & Hardy often performed was a “tit-for-tat” fight with an adversary. Typically, Laurel and Hardy accidentally damaged someone else’s property. The injured party would retaliate by ruining something belonging to Laurel or Hardy, who would calmly survey the damage and find something else to vandalize. The conflict would escalate until both sides were simultaneously destroying property in front of each other. An early example of the routine occurs in their classic short, Big Business, which was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992.

    Artavazd Pelechian
    Obitateli ou Bnakitchnère (Inhabitants)

    URSS, 1970, 8 min)

    “Pelechian’s films are remarkable because they stare upon fundamental and cosmic themes, edited with a
    mastery of scale and rhythm which makes all life on earth swarm and bloom through the celluloid. Inhabitants in 1970 is a hymn to the animal world which aspires to formal abstraction, clouds of silver birds pulverising the light.” (J.S.)

    George Kuchar
    The Mongreloid

    1978, 16mm, color, sound, 10′

    “A man, his dog, and the regions they inhabited, each leaving his own distinctive mark on the landscape. Not even time can wash the residue of what they left behind.” (G.K.) “The Mongreloid explores at the problems and joys of human-pet relationships from Kuchar’s typically cracked perspective. He engages in what appears to be a one-way conversation with his dog Bocko, his reminiscences intercut with photos and film footage from the times in question. Kuchar’s companion Curt McDowell also makes an appearance, albeit at one level of remove from reality.” (J.S.)

    Walerian Borowczyk
    Les Jeux des Anges

    FR, 1964, 16mm, 12′

    “Walerian Borowczyk was a twisted man whose films were infused with a unique cruelty and weirdness. He started out making extraordinary animations, graduated to directing classics such as Goto, Island of Love and La B te, and then ended up directing Emmanuelle 5, which I think is a perversely fitting end. Les Jeux des Anges was my first experience of animation that was utterly impressionistic. It didn’t show me anything specific, just sound and movement from which you create a world of your own.” (Terry Gilliam)

    Margaret Tait
    Portrait of Ga

    UK, 1955, 16mm, 4′

    A Portrait of Ga was the first of many portraits made by the Orcadian artist Margaret Tait during her long life of filmmaking. A portrait of her mother, it was shot on a visit home from the Film School in Rome. It signals the beginning of her commitment to making simple films about real life and real people.

    Lewis Klahr
    Daylight Moon

    US, 2002, 16mm, 13′

    “There are things I could say about Daylight Moon, but very few I want to before someone sees it. But I will say this: of all the films I’ve made using collage to muck around in the past, this one gets the closest to what I’m after.” (Lewis Klahr)

    Luther Price
    Same Day Nice Biscotts

    US, 2005, 16mm, 5′

    “A mournful dissolving jewel set in bruised magenta sends out votive glints of dying light. A lone bird chirps and branches cover our eyes. Working from a stack of abandoned multiple film prints (nearly identical and close to thirteen in number) Luther Price makes reiterative loops that underline futility, echo hope, and mark every camera movement with the vain promise of fresh outcome and inevitable predestination.” (Mark McElhatten)