A programme hinged around the conceptual film work of American artist Morgan Fisher. An examination and investigation into the raw material that builds films; colour tests, off cuts, dirty prints and projectionists. These films take the elements apart and re-configure them.
We sit in the dark and dissect film. If we put the leaders at the beginning and the tails at the end, if there is a story in the middle – does that make it a whole film? You decide.
Dark Leader David Leister (UK 16mm 1990 4mins)
From beginning to end ‘Dark Leader’ stirs the imagination with its powerful presence and moving soundtrack. A film for a dark room.
At The Academy Guy Sherwin ( UK 16mm 1974 5mins)
Makes use of found footage hand printed on a simple home-made contact printer, and processed in the kitchen sink. At The Academy uses displacements of a positive and negative sandwich of the same loop. Since the printer light spills over the optical sound track area, the picture and sound undergo identical transformations.
Projection Instructions Morgan Fisher (USA 16mm 1976 4min)
The projectionist is no longer the means for delivering the performances of actors to the audience; the projectionist is a performer who, at Fisher’s instruction (or, in a sense, at the film’s instruction) succinctly demonstrates (or fails to demonstrate) the various dimensions of the viewing experience controlled from the projection booth (Scott MacDonald)
Film In which There Appear Sprocket Holes, Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, Etc Owen Land (USA 16mm 1965-66 5mins)
Jonas Mekas wrote of it: “The richest frame I have seen in any film when you take into consideration all movements, lines; the beautiful whites and reds and blacks… The kinetic and visual experience produced by Land’s film is even more difficult to describe… There is humor in it (the blink); there is clear Mozart -(Mondrian)- like sense of form…”
Standard Gauge Morgan Fisher ( USA 16mm 1984 35mins)
Beginning with a scrolling text about the invention of cinema, explaining how 35mm became the international standard gauge for film production, it soon shifts into an autobiographical account of a life in pictures. While on one level a homage to 35mm and to the diverse cinematic world it made possible, the irony of its having been filmed in 16mm reveals a conceptual paradox central to the film.
Standard Gauge is composed of strips and frames , a reliquary of abandoned footage, defunct television episodes, “China girls” and glorious frames that resemble El Litsky and Rothko paintings – illustrating the filmically inscribed runic codes of off screen technologies and procedures. As well as having metaphorical resonance these images also document Fisher’s brief involvement with the Film Industry and his role as editor and as a bit actor in Messiah of Evil.
Tails Paul Sharits ( USA 16mm 1976 4mins )
A series of tail ends of varied strips of film, with sometimes-recognizable images dissolving into light flares, appear to run through and off the projector. A romantic ‘narrative’, suggesting an ‘ending’, is inferred. P.S.