Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DocPoint Vanishing Point: Stan Brakhage 1

DocPoint, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 22 Jan 2013.

The screening was introduced by Sami van Ingen.

Sami van Ingen (DocPoint Catalogue): "Stan Brakhage (1933–2003) was a visionary artist who made over 300 films. They explore our perceptions of our outer and inner worlds as well as the viewing process itself."

"Brakhage’s persistent and uncompromising working methods generated masterpieces, which give novel perspectives on film as a medium and on us humans as psychophysiological entities."

"Brakhage 1 consists of short but powerful pieces. The themes alternate between the conflicting emotions set forth by a birth of a child (Window Water Baby Moving) and the mysticism of a deserted city (Visions in Meditation #2) all the way to an analysis of death and existence (Mothlight)."

"An appropriate finale for the screening is the last piece of work from the artist, which he scraped on celluloid with his nails while lying on his deathbed. It has been said that watching Chinese Series is like a dash through a bamboo forest."

"The well-known Pittsburgh-trilogy by Stan Brakhage documents the everyday work of police patrols, surgeons and pathologists. The main character is the human body: the constraint of its movements (by the police in eyes), fixing it up (by the surgeons in Deus Ex) and studying it after the spirit has already parted (in The Act of Seeing with one’s own eyes, which takes place in the morgue)."

"The trilogy explores the metaphysical questions of our existence related to chaos, suffering and dying while avoiding witty remarks or pointing fingers. Brakhage displays the carnal side of human existence almost laconically but at the same time he is not afraid to approach his subject matter with thorough fervor. After one transcends the initial sensations of horror and repulsion, the spectator may even see the poetic beauty in a skinned human body."

"Stan Brakhage’s profound interest towards the qualities of light can be perceived throughout his work, but in The Text of Light it becomes the main theme. This film is art by light. He studies how light refracts as it travels through different materials and, at the same time, how light alters its form during the cinematic processes."

"As a starting point Brakhage uses William Blake’s idea of seeing the world in a grain of sand, even though instead of a grain of sand he uses an ashtray he borrowed from Gordon Rosenbaum’s office." (Sami van Ingen | translation by Juha Nurminen)

The Wonder Ring. US 1955. 16 mm; 6’00 - visions of urbanity from the train
Window Water Baby Moving. US 1959. 16 mm; 12’00 - childbirth in extreme close-up, a Courbetian vision of the origin life, raw sensuality, yet tender and respectful
Cat’s Cradle. US 1959. 16 mm; 6’00 - fast edit about the cat's view of the world
Mothlight. US 1963. 16 mm; 3’00 - a masterpiece made without a camera by moth's wings exposed on film - breathtaking, like seeing a huge art exhibition flashing by in three minutes
Here I had to leave for the DocPoint Opening Gala, which overlapped.
The Dante Quartet. US 1987: 35 mm; 6’00
Visions in Meditation #2. US 1989. 16 mm; 17’00
Delicacies of Molten Horror Synapse. US 1991. 16 mm; 8’00
Interpolations 1-5. US 1992. 35 mm; 12’00
Black Ice. US 1994. 16 mm; 2’00
Chinese Series. 2003. 35 mm; 2’30
Total duration: 74’30
All prints silent, all except Mothlight from Canyon Cinema. The quality of the prints is good, the colour looks right.

Walking towards Bio Rex I was thinking about the silence which is perfect for Stan Brakhage: the films are so intensive, and need to be seen on film and without music. They fill up the senses just like that.

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