Recent challenges to this basic formula include the paracinema sculptures of Barry Gerson, the "hologram movies" of Amy Greenfield (see below), and Anthony McCall’s projector works. Additionally, there are the "frozen film frames" of Paul Sharits and Roger Jacoby's Original Films.
For a decade Paul Sharits has been making "flicker films," works largely consisting of frames of pure color—sometimes magnified so that the moving grain is visible, sometimes manipulated so that the frames slip across the screen, or the shutter seems to slow below the speed of invisibility. Little noted is another, important aspect of these films—their "frozen frame" companions. Had Sharits possessed the financial means, he would have issued frozen frame versions of all his films beginning with Ray Gun Virus (1966). Initially scored on paper before filming begins, these films can also be exhibited in this format—suspended between sheets of plexiglass, restoring the initial grid framework that one can only generally sense in watching the film projected on a screen. All of his films, Sharits said in the discussion after his September screening, ought to be seen in these two modes, the spatial format of the frozen film frame, and the temporal format of the projected film. Each clarifies the other, both expand the limits of what cinema can be.
Among Roger Jacoby's new films, screened in November, were four of his "Originals," works made in camera (and also processed by him), that are not intended for duplication. This seemingly arbitrary distinction is not just a gesture against the fundamental reproducibility of the photographic image. Copies are not, he asserts, equal to the originals.
And these originals are not as fragile as conventional films. On "extra tough, long lasting Estar film," these movies are mounted on a film stock so strong that, if trouble arises, the projector is more likely to break than the print. As unique and durable objects, Jacoby contends the Originals ought to be valued apart from the pricing system that applies to most other films, which are, in effect, issued by editions, rather than individually. Yet he also derides this alternative, through his decision to sell the films by foot—like tradesmen who three-quarters-of-a-century ago bought and sold Melies and Lumiere not by the subject but by the length of film on the reel.
Amy Greenfield at The Museum of Holography and
The Experimental Intermedia Foundation
Motion pictures as a concept can be traced, depending on one's interests and inclinations, from Eadweard Muybridge, E.J. Marey, Thomas Edison, Emile Reynaud, or the Lumiere Brothers, to cite the principal figures. Significantly, half of the work connected with these "inventors" of the medium was in the area of short duratrion "movies" in which motion was limited to a gesture or two (because the image support, usually glass, could hold only a small number of pictures).
"Short" films of contemporary film-makers usually are too long, even when they are in loop form, to successfully allude to the magical intensity of those works (pre-cinematic to some observers). Two exceptions are Less by Hollis Frampton and Eye Myth by Stan Brakhage; the latter, the longer, has 190 frames.
Amy Greenfield's holograms evoke the pre-cinematic apparatus of Reynaud and Muybridge but more strikingly revive the excitement and impact of a gesture that can be analyzed and then reanimated. Gestures, moreover, that the spectator knows were filmed with the intent of expressing much in very little time. One can find a great deal in something as brief as these ten to thirty second pieces.
Greenfield's holograms are of two kinds. At the Museum of Holography she exhibited a 360 degree work called Fine Step in which the artist rises, turns, and thrusts her hands out towards the viewer. At the Experimental Intermedia Foundation (also in December) she additionally presented a 120 degree work with dancer Susan Emery turning before the spectator, raising her arms from her lower right at the beginning, to the upper left at the end.
So described the holograms sound quite modest. They possess, however, additional qualities which make them of unusual interest. Fine Step, made in collaboration with Hart Perry, is twice the length of standard 360 degree holograms; the image support is
Reviews, Notes, and Notices
Paul Sharits at Carnegie Institute Roger Jacoby at Pittsburgh Film-Makers