Experimental Cinema

Pitcher of Colored Light, 2007

In a sense, Robert Beavers’s muted, sensual, and reverently observed short film diary, Pitcher of Colored Light may be seen as a companion piece to the climactic, long awaited homecoming sequence in Jonas Mekas’s Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (albeit without the reflective commentary) – a personal chronicle that similarly evokes the silent intimacy… read more »

Ten Skies, 2004

While James Benning’s 13 Lakes captures the materiality, self-equilibration, and memory of water, the film’s equally rigorous and abstractly hypnotic companion piece, Ten Skies illustrates the mutability, ephermerality, and transience of nature. Shot in Val Verde, California, the film consists of ten minute, stationary shots of ten isolated skyscapes set against the ambient sounds of… read more »

13 Lakes, 2004

Composed of a series of episodic, stationary long takes, each recording an uninterrupted, ten minute shot length and punctuated by an extended, interstitial black screen, James Benning’s structuralist film, 13 Lakes is a rigorous and demanding, yet hypnotic and transfixing meditation on diurnal rhythms, climatic changes, and the implications of (irreversible) man-made transformation. The opening… read more »

Patrick Bokanowski: Short Films (1972-1994)

My first exposure to French filmmaker Patrick Bokanowski’s experimental cinema was with his transfixing, yet vague and impenetrable magnum opus L’Ange, a Dante Alighieri-esque depiction of intranscendence and moribund ritual that would ingrain the (somewhat reductive) idea that his films were abstract visual studies in structuralism, modulation, and repetition. In hindsight, underneath this cursory first… read more »

Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons, 1980

In the final, melancholic passage of Maurice Pialat’s L’amour existe, a narrator contemplates the double entendre image of a victory commemorative sculpture that appears to equally articulate strength and human frailty, noting that “the hand of glory, ordering and directing, can also beg – a simple change in angle is sufficient.” This intrinsic contextual duality… read more »

Fuji, 1974

A 2002 addition to the National Film Registry and one of Robert Breer’s longest duration, rotoscope animation films, Fuji transforms a seemingly mundane state of transience – a tourist’s eye view from a window seat of a train passing through an area overlooking Mount Fuji – into an imaginative, transfixing, and lyrical free-association of everyday… read more »

Form Phases #4, 1954

The opening image of Robert Breer’s Form Phases #4 is that of two-strip red and white color panels, a seemingly tongue-in-cheek image that visually presages the film’s fusion of two-dimensional animation and early color-process motion picture, as a sliver of white line breaks the bounds of the color border and continues to transect unimpededly (and… read more »

America Is Waiting, 1982

Assembled from found film culled from propaganda reels, public service announcements, and movie westerns and set against a percussive, industrial soundtrack by David Byrne and Brian Eno, Bruce Connor’s America Is Waiting is a terse, but potent statement on the Reagan-era reactionary culture of moral righteousness, military aggression, and Cold War paranoia. Juxtaposing images depicting… read more »

Pain Is…, 1997

Before Les Films du Renard released its first installment of an anticipated three boxset Stephen Dwoskin anthology earlier this year, there seemed little room to reconcile Dwoskin’s cinema between the transgressive, borderline pornographic gaze of Dyn Amo and the intimately melancholic Dad (an elegy to his late father Henry Dwoskin) – the only two films… read more »

Nathaniel Dorsky: Winter and Sarabande (2008)

Bookending with representations of twilight – an opening shot of light transmitted through a foregrounding grating, and a closing shot of the sun setting below a line of trees – Nathaniel Dorsky’s Winter and Sarabande convey forms of progression: a movement from dawn to dusk, shadow to light, grey tones to color, emptiness to space…. read more »

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