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Experimenta 2004
Festival of experimental film, India





Bombay & Delhi
18–30 March 2004


"Since its inception in 2003 Experimenta proudly showcases Indian Films that delight in eccentric form and abstract narrative. These are exciting films that display an independence from the constraints of the generic western avant-garde. Experimenta ultimately seeks to explore a new visual world and is an invitation to explore and support a movement to break the boundaries of what constitutes film art in India". – Shai Heredia, Festival director (from Experimenta 2005 catalogue)

http://www.filterindia.com

Co-curators Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, no.w.here


Visual Grammar or Camera Grammar

Penumbra
Nicky Hamlyn, UK, 2003, silent, 16mm, 9 min
Shot in a bathroom, the film is a continuous, unbroken image which fluctuates and alters as the camera encounters irregularities and interruptions in the grid system of tiles. The composition of the image is dictated by the squareness of the tiles in conjunction with the rectangular dimensions of the film-frame, which is based on a 'four by three' ratio of the 'golden section'.

Short Film Series
Guy Sherwin, UK 1976-79, silent, B&W, 3 min x 20+, 16mm
It is literally impossible to offer a definitive description of Guy Sherwin's Short Film Series, since the film has no beginning, middle or end. It is instead composed of a series of three minute (100ft.) sections which can be projected in any order. The hirer of the series may select which sections he/she wants to book and in which order they are to be seen, the only stipulation being that a minimum of four sections be screened together. There are upwards of twenty-five sections, all silent and in black-and-white. The majority were made in the years 1976 to 1979, although the series is theoretically open-ended and ongoing. If the film itself is impossible to describe, some of its recurring ideas and cinematic interests can at least be traced. This can perhaps best be done by considering a reel of six sections currently available as a unit for those interested in booking the film for the first time. Although the individual sections themselves are simple, the issues they raise are varied and complex. Some of the ideas woven through this reel include film as a record of life, and autobiographical document, the image surface as a controlled pattern of light and rhythm, the camera apparatus as a 'clock' which actually 'marks time'.

Musical Stairs
Guy Sherwin, UK, 1977, sound mag stripe, B&W, 10 min, 16mm
One of a series of films that uses soundtracks generated directly from their own imagery. I shot the images of a staircase specifically for the range of sounds they would produce. I used a fixed lens to film from a fixed position at the bottom of the stairs. Tilting the camera up increases the number of steps that are included in the frame. The more steps that are included the higher the pitch of sound. A simple procedure gave rise to a musical scale (in eleven steps which is based on the laws of visual perspective. A range of volume is introduced by varying the exposure. The darker the image the louder the sound (it can be the other way round, but Musical Stairs uses a soundtrack made from the negative of the image.) The fact that the staircase is neither a synthetic image, nor a particularly clean one (there happened to be leaves on the stairs when I shot the film) means that the sound is not pure, but dense with strange harmonies. - G.S.

So Is This
Michael Snow, Canada, 1982, silent, colour, 45 mins, 16mm
..It is an odd film: a text-film, a silent black and white talky in colour, a self-reflexive document and a fictive construct, a non-movie that paradoxically fulfils and subverts the implications in the titles of such books as'The Language of Cinema' and 'How to Read a Film'.' - Michael Ethan Brodzky: Arts Canada Nov 1982.
'The brilliance of So Is This is that it challenges apparently obvious truths about discourse. Snow's film addresses all the issues which Socrates' condemnation (in Plato's 'Phaedrus' quoted in the film) of written language raises.- R.Bruce Elder: Parachute Feb 1983.

'Snow creates a visual dynamo that loses nothing to motion for its absence of pictures. If you let it Snow's film stretches your definition of what film is.' - J.Hoberman: Village Voice Sept 28th 1982.


Processed Spaces or Rhythmic Spaces

Threshold
Malcolm Le Grice, UK, 1972, sound, colour, 10 min, 16mm
"Threshold, made five years later, aptly offers points of comparison with LITTLE DOG FOR ROGER. Le Grice no longer simply uses the printer as a reflexive mechanism, but utilises the possibilities of colour-shift and permutation of imagery as the film progresses from simplicity to complexity. The initial use of pure red and green filters gives way to a broad variety of colours and the introduction of strips of coloured/celluloid which are drawn through the printer begins to build an image which becomes graphically and spatially complex - if still abstract - and which evokes the paintings of, say, Clifford Still or Morris Louis. With the film's culmination in representational, photographic imagery, one would anticipate a culminating 'richness' of image; yet the insistent evidence of splice bars and the loop and repetition of the short piece of found footage and the conflicting superimposition of filtered loops all reiterate (as in LITTLE DOG) the work which is necessary to decipher that cinematic image." - Deke Dusinberre.

Rallentando (movements by rail series)
Guy Sherwin, UK, 2000, 16mm, 9 min

The Black Tower
John Smith, UK, 1985-1987, sound, colour, 24 min, 16mm
In The Black Tower we enter the world of a man haunted by a tower which, he believes, is following him around London. While the character of the central protagonist is indicated only by a narrative voice-over which takes us from unease to breakdown to mysterious death, the images, meticulously controlled and articulated, deliver a series of colour coded puzzles, games, jokes and puns which pull the viewer into a mind-teasing engagement. Smith's assurance and skill as a filmmaker undercuts the notion of the avant-garde as dry, unprofessional and dull and in Tower we have an example of a film which plays with the emotions as well as the language of film.' - Nik Houghton, Independent Media.
'The Black Tower expands the core of Smith's interests: chiefly, the image as a filmic fact which is constantly questioned and often undermined by language and soundtrack. Like his earlier films, The Black Tower is concerned with description, but this time framed by a story whose undertow of melancholy balances its wit and wry humour, and which is a remarkable fiction in its own right.' - A.L. Rees

'The hilarious and slightly menacing The Black Tower is one of the most accomplished films to come from the British avant-garde for years.' - Michael O'Pray, Independent Media.

Where a straight line meets a curve
Mirza /Butler, 2 screen 16mm projection, colour, 2003, 32 min, sound by David Cunningham
"…I found myself exploring a metaphoric exterior to come across a window of interior understanding. The empty space was constantly changing since there was no one there to stop it from doing so, the time frame was measured through the changing shadows cast from the sun, thus indicating a time of day. The light and colour formed relationships between and across the screen, continuously, redefining the perception of the space I stood in and the space I was viewing on screen. A dialectical excursion with the mental image, the dimension of physical space, and the illusionist space of cinema was unfolding. ‘Where a Straight Line meets a Curve’ is like a mapping action onto our interior psychology. A Topo-analysis, as explained by Gaston Bachalard (in his 1958 book The Poetics of Space) is the psychological and systematic study of the sites of our lives". - Louis Benassi




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