Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Bardo Follies

Diploteratology, or, Bardo Follies. US 1967. D: George Landow = Owen Land. Colour, silent, 16 mm. 7 min. A LUX print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Cinéma Deleuze), 2 April, 2013.

George Landow: "A paraphrasing of certain sections of the Bardo Thodal (Tibetan Book of the Dead) in motion picture terms. Not to be confused with other films which have done the same thing in dramatic or literary terms via motion pictures."

"This is an analogical film, and in order to understand it one must be acquainted with the process by which it was made. An image was selected, in this case the image of a woman hired to be part of the display at an amusement park waving to a passing boat filled with tourists. One of the tourists is filming her with a 'home movie' camera. Frames from this image were then heated in a specially modified projector, projected and refilmed. The melting of the film engenders all of the subsequent 'images'. The analogy is between this process and basic operating procedures of the system of which we are all a part, sometimes called 'creation'; the suggestion is that death (the destruction of the initial image) is not an end but merely the next stage. perhaps the amusement park scene is only a preparation for its transformation into the 'diploteratological' (a word meaning a monster with two heads or other bodily parts which it would normally only have one of) images. There are three main types of 'abstract' images: macrocosmic, suggesting planets; visionary, suggesting mythical battle scenes; and microcosmic, suggesting cellular structures." (George Landow, LUX online catalogue)

A structural film where the film stock itself becomes an object of experience. There are six stages of metamorphoses when the film is melted and refilmed.

The first stage is a loop of a straight record of the waving woman at the park. In the second stage the image starts to melt. In the third stage it burns. The fourth stage is about the destruction. There is something volcanic in the imagery of the burning red bubbles in the split screen. The fifth stage shows the throbbing bubbles expanding and disintegrating, and there are affinities with abstract expressionism in the imagery. This stage is also colouristic with strong reds, yellows, oranges, blues, but also blacks-and-whites. In the sixth stage the volcanic eruption switches to dark flicker (kuin hiipuva hiillos), which accelerates, ending with a sensation of the big bang.

The colour is juicy in this beautiful 16 mm print.

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