Lis Rhodes

Light Music is an innovative work presented originally as a performance that experiments with celluloid and sound to push the formal, spatial and performative boundaries of cinema. An iconic work of expanded cinema, it creates a more central and participatory role for the viewer within a dynamic, immersive environment.

Formed from two projections facing one another on opposite screens, Light Music is Rhodes’s response to what she perceived as the lack of attention paid to women composers in European music. She composed a ‘score’ comprised of drawings that form abstract patterns of black and white lines onscreen. The drawings are printed onto the optical edge of the filmstrip. As the bands of light and dark pass through the projector they are ‘read’ as audio, creating an intense soundtrack, forming a direct, indexical relationship between the sonic and the visual. What one hears is the aural equivalent to the flickering patterns on the screens.

Light Music is projected into a hazy room – the beams that traverse one another in the space between the two projections become ethereal sculptural forms comprised of light, shadow and theatrical smoke. This format is designed to encourage viewers to move between the screens, directly engaging with the projection beams, forming a set of social relations in which cinema is transformed into a collective event without a single point of focus. Light Music occupies an important threshold in film history, drawing on early experiments in ‘visual music’ from the 1920s by pioneers including Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter and Walther Ruttmann, and subsequently opening cinematic practice up to a host of concerns from gender politics to phenomenological experience.

Lis Rhodes (born 1942, London) is a major figure in the history of artists’ filmmaking in Britain and was a leading member of the influential London Filmmakers’ Co-op. She currently lives and works in London, where a survey exhibition of her career, Lis Rhodes: Dissonance and Disturbance, was held at the ICA from January to March 2012. Her films are distributed by LUX.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern-tanks/display/lis-rhodes-light-music

Joan Jonas • Vertical Roll

In this well-known early tape, Jonas manipulates the grammar of the camera to create the sense of a grossly disturbed physical space. The space functions as a metaphor for the unstable identity of the costumed and masked female figure roaming the screen, negotiating the rolling barrier of the screen’s bottom edge. “[Making] use of a jarring rhythmic technique to develop a sense of fragmentation, Vertical Roll uses a common television set malfunction of the same name to establish a constantly shifting stage for the actions that relate both to the nature of the image and to the artist’s projected psychological state.”

—David Ross, “Joan Jonas’s Videotapes” in Joan Jonas: Scripts and Descriptions, 1968-1982, ed. Douglas Crimp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)

see also disturbances on vdb.org

Pipilotti Rist

Meet the sensuous Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist, whose work full of colour and playfulness. She here argues that videos can have painterly qualities and tells the story of one of her most famous videos, where a woman smashes car windows with a flower.

“There is no rule for when and where I get my ideas – some are survival tactics, some are psychotic tics, some are very well thought over.” The video ‘Ever is Over All’ (1997) was Rist’s response to a chief editor, who wouldn’t let her do the things she wished to do – even though he had given her a carte blanche. She felt like smashing his car, but instead chose to make a video, which challenged and even altered her aggression: “That was my catharsis.”

“I’m not more colourful than life is.” The screen is like “a moving glass painting” to Rist, who enjoys the playful use of colours. Moreover, she feels that a lot of people distance themselves from colour, even finding it intimidating. Rist, however, wants to fight for colour: “They call it superficial, but actually it’s dangerous.”

Elisabeth Charlotte “Pipilotti” Rist (b. 1962) is a Swiss visual artist, who works with video, film and moving images, which are often displayed as projections. She takes her name from Pippi Longstockings, heroine of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s much-loved series of children’s books. Early on in her career she began making super 8 films, which generally last only a few minutes and contain alterations in their colours, speed and sound. Among the themes her work centres on are gender, sexuality and the human body. In 1996 her work was first featured in the Venice Biennial, where she was awarded the ‘Premio 2000 Prize’. Other awards include the ‘Wolfgang Hahn Prize’ (1999), the ‘Joan Miró Prize’ (2009) and the ‘Cutting the Edge Award’ at the 27th Annual Miami International Film Festival (2010). Rist’s works are a part of prominent museums worldwide such as MoMA in New York City and Tate Modern in London.

For more about Pipilotti Rist see: http://pipilottirist.net/

Pipilotti Rist was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Hayward Gallery in London, November 2011.


Gravity Be My Friend


Pixel Forest


Mercy Garden

http://channel.louisiana.dk

Stan Brakhage


Stan Brakhage, “Mothlight” (1963)

Stan Brakhage
American filmmaker who brought a unique eye to his craft
Ronald Bergan
Friday 14 March 2003 21.23 EST

Those who consider cinema a narrative art form, and believe that films should have a beginning, a middle and an end – in that order – will have problems with the work of Stan Brakhage, who has died aged 70. His films were difficult also for those not willing to shed the conventionalised illusion, imposed by rules of perspective, compositional logic and “lenses grounded to achieve 19th-century compositional perspective”.

For Brakhage, the goal of cinema was the liberation of the eye itself, the creation of an act of seeing, previously unimagined and undefined by conventions of representation, an eye as natural and unprejudiced as that of a cat, a bee or an infant. There were few filmmakers – film director is too limiting a description – who went so far to train audiences to see differently.

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective,” he wrote in Metaphors On Vision, first published in the journal Film Culture in 1963, “an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.

“How many colours are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects, and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of colour. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word’.”

To a large extent, Brakhage realised this innocent world in his films, restrictively labelled avant-garde or experimental, existing in a parallel universe to the multiplex ethos. His signature was as figurative as it was literal – he would scratch his initials directly on the film’s emulsion at the end credits. Like a painter or sculptor, he worked manually on his material, often scratching, dyeing and altering the celluloid itself, making today’s push-button digital technology anathema to him.

He would hand-paint blank frames of 16mm film, and glue objects to them in a collage. In Mothlight (1963), for example, he pasted moth wings on to strips of film and, when projected, the bright light seemed to bring the insects back to life.

Brakhage was born Robert Sanders in a Kansas City orphanage, and adopted two weeks later by Ludwig and Clara Brakhage, who named him James Stanley. He performed on radio as a boy soprano, attended high school in Denver, Colorado, and, at 19, dropped out of Dartmouth College after two months to make films.

Among his early influences were Jean Cocteau and the Italian neo-realists but, after arriving in New York in 1954, he joined the flourishing avant-garde scene, drawing inspiration from artists and filmmakers like Maya Deren, Marie Menken and Joseph Cornell. He admired Ezra Pound, and was a close associate of poets like Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, and abstract expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning, with whom much of his work has an affinity.

In 1957, he married Jane Collom, and the details of their lives together figured prominently in his work. In Window Water Baby Moving (1959), he unflinchingly and poetically documented the birth of the first of their five children.

In 23rd Psalm (1966), he contrasted scenes of his tranquil life in rural Colorado with footage of the second world war. The quick cuts of the first part, depicting a world menaced by chaos, give way to the contemplative passages of the second, suggestive of a quest for the roots of war – particularly the Vietnam war, then at its height.

Brakhage’s most famous film, Dog Star Man (1964), one of the key works of the 1960s American avant-garde, experimented with the use of colour, painting on film and distorting lenses, while depicting the creation of the universe. It ends with superimpositions of solar flares and chains of mountains over his wife, as she gives birth to their child.

During five decades, Brakhage made nearly 380 films, most of them shot in 8mm or 16mm, and ranging in length from nine seconds to four hours. With a few exceptions, they were made without sound, which he felt might spoil the intensity of the visual experience. He preferred to think of his films as metaphorical, abstract and highly subjective – a kind of poetry written with light.

Brakhage taught film history at the University of Colorado from 1981 until last year, when he retired to Canada with his second wife and two sons, who survive him along with the five children of his first mariage. It is a tragic irony that he seems to have been killed by the art he loved. According to his widow, doctors believed that the coal-tar dyes he used in his filmmaking may have contributed to his bladder cancer, which was diagnosed in 1996.

· James Stanley Brakhage, filmmaker, born January 14 1933; died March 9 2003

Kelly Richardson


Mining the aesthetics of cinema and science fiction, The Erudition presents a lunar-esque looking landscape with what appears to be an unlikely monument or proposal, consisting of holographic trees blowing in fictional wind. Is this slightly malfunctioning display a forgotten site for proposed colonization? Better yet, is this some kind of alien artwork?

“Richardson’s contribution to the genre is both a technical virtuosity and a nerdy ambivalence that doesn’t critique our mediated world so much as take it as a given. As trees flicker and crackle in and out of frame, there’s a sense of a very distant future trying, in its techno-sterile way, to recreate virtually something it never actually knew. Richardson produces a future-world that was, now not so much remembered as stored in the dull chill of a multi-terabyte hard-drive: gone, forgotten, but forever clickable.” Murray Whyte, Toronto Star

Supported by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery Intersection Residency Program

“Equal parts sci-fi myth and forest fable, dreamy nocturne and dazzling special effect—Kelly Richardson’s Twilight Avenger begins with a fairytale-worthy image of a misty, moonlit forest clearing inhabited by a majestic stag who emanates a luminous green vapour. Quietly grazing amidst the ambient chatter of other forest dwellers (the hoot of an owl may portend an imminent threat) our protagonist occasionally rears his head, shifting his gaze towards us.

Like much of Richardson’s work, Twilight Avenger poses multiple questions amidst its calculated ambiguities. The scene is at once visually convincing and obviously synthetic, peaceful and disquieting, shifting between stillness and action. As the scene unfolds, questions remain whether the protagonist is some sort of forest sentinel, as the title implies, or perhaps a victim of a man-made mishap.

Ultimately, Richardson leaves such questions unanswered, leveraging our belief in the visual document with the evocative power of the imaginary. Through painstaking application of digital effects to documentary images (Richardson filmed the deer and landscape elements in Canada and England respectively) she invites us to question the integrity of images and asks viewers to consider our increasingly mediated relationship with nature.” Matthew Suib, Screening Gallery

Supported by ISIS Arts

Leviathan, a high-definition triple-channel video by Richardson, is a 20-minute loop of footage shot on Caddo Lake in Uncertain, Texas. The video displays the area’s indigenous bald cypress trees in their swamp environment. However, Richardson digitally enhances the composite image by color grading the water with undulating ribbons hued a glowing yellow green and replacing expected nature sounds with an ominous soundtrack. Utilizing the format of a triptych, the landscape is presented from a single vantage point, like a painting set into motion.

Richardson’s manipulation of the video suggests several foreboding plot lines: the birth of primordial life, the emergence of an evil aquatic creature, or a post-apocalyptic Earth. The title itself (Leviathan) alludes to several textual references including a serpent sea monster from the Bible who is the gatekeeper to hell, Thomas Hobbes’s 1651 philosophical treatise, and a 1989 sci-fi film of the same name. These references become particularly relevant in the wake of environmental atrocities including the 2010 BP oil spill and, most recently, the earthquake and impending threat of nuclear disaster in Japan. Employing postmodern intertexuality, Richardson draws on the tradition of Leviathan as myth and metaphor encouraging the viewer to meditate on the possibilities of the implied narrative.”

Kelly Richardson Recognised as one of the leading representatives of a new generation of artists working with digital technologies to create hyper-real, highly charged landscapes, Kelly Richardson has been widely acclaimed in North America, Asia and Europe. Recent one person exhibitions include Dundee Contemporary Arts, SMoCA, CAG Vancouver, VOID Derry, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien and a major survey at the Albright-Knox. Her work was selected for the Beijing, Busan, Canadian, Gwangju and Montréal biennales, and major moving image exhibitions including the The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality and the Moving Image at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, USA). Her video installations have been included in the Toronto International Film Festival as part of Future Projections (2012), Sundance Film Festival in New Frontier (2011 and 2009) and in 2009, she was honoured as the featured artist at the Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards.

Richardson’s work has been acquired into significant museum collections across the UK, USA and Canada, from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, SMoCA and Albright-Knox Art Gallery to the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Arts Council Collection (England) and the Towner.

Kelly Richardson was born in Burlington, Ontario, Canada in 1972. From 2003-2017 she resided in north east England where she was a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Newcastle University. She currently lives and works as a visitor on the traditional territory of the WSANEC peoples of the Coast Salish Nation on Vancouver Island, Canada. She is Associate Professor in Visual Arts at the University of Victoria.

http://kellyrichardson.net