The Mad Stork Cinema presents a screening featuring work by Nathaniel Dorsky, David Gatten, Peter Hutton, Ben Russell, and Rachel Stuckey!
Hardwood Process by David Gatten
14 min / 16mm / silent / 1996
A history of scarred surfaces, an inquiry, and an imagining: for the marks we see and the marks we make, for the languages we can read and for those we are trying to learn. Reproduced by hand on an old contact printer resulting in individual, unique release prints.
“… David Gatten, in his film HARDWOOD PROCESS, proposes that the scarred surfaces of our physical world are actually the visual dimension of secret languages and exotic vocabulary. HARDWOOD PROCESS traffics in chemically manipulated and optically reprinted images of this world. Marks on scruffy floor boards, swirls of dust and fallen hairs, weather bruised walls of an old barn, words etched into film, vividly colored and solarized windows, fields aglow with otherworldly light, lover’s hands feeling lover’s hands, painterly abstraction that borders on blind light, the darkly voided screen itself – Gatten mindfully, imaginatively, poetically, generously regards these marked realms not as chaos, not as visual noise, but as enigmatic languages.” – Zack Stiglicz
Awards: Grand Prize, 35th Ann Arbor Film Festival; Grand Prize, Onion City Film Festival, 1997; Juror’s Citation, 16th Black Maria Film and Video Festival.
New York Near Sleep for Saskia by Peter Hutton
10 min / 16mm / silent / 1972
“Using exciting juxtapositions of shade and movement, this silent and surreally poetic film examines subtle changes of light and landscape in New York. NEW YORK NEAR SLEEP exploits the basic potential of film for capturing light refractions. Hutton imposes on this film the aesthetics of still photography and uses as a structural device the duration of perception of the subtle reflection of movements and illuminations.” – Bill Moritz, Theatre Vanguard
Materia Medica: Ocularium by Rachel Stuckey
5 min / digital / sound / 2012
Materia Medica: Ocularium is a visual study of herbology, apothecary practices, and plant folklore pertaining to eyesight, culled from 15th century European Herbals, 19th century American Pharmacopœias, and contemporary texts. The piece is comprised of magnified, rapid-moving imagery of flowers said to benefit to the eyes interwoven with apothecary implements and preparations, botanical diagrams and medical illustrations. The imagery is composed using a narrow-focus macro lens that will both limit and expand the audience’s range of vision, conjuring an intimate and curious space.
Aubade by Nathaniel Dorsky
11.5 min / 16mm / silent / 2010
An aubade is a poem ormorning song evoking the first rays of the sun at daybreak. Often, it includes the atmosphere of lovers parting. This film is my first venture into shooting in color negative after having spent a lifetime shooting Kodachrome. In some sense, it is a new beginning for me. -N.D.
Black and White Trypps #4 by Ben Russell
10.5 min / 16mm / sound / 2008
“Jesus Christ, look at the white people, rushing back. White people don’t care, Jack…”
– Richard Pryor
“And so, in Black and White Trypps Number Four, we find Russell working with a processed film strip of Pryor in action. The opening minutes have Pryor in unmanipulated audio, discussing the white people in his audience, poking fun at the awkwardness with which we have made a place for ourselves. This audio is presented, appropriately enough, over clear leader. Russell shows us pockmarks, dents and scratches on the celluloid, interrupting the smooth self-evident invisibility of white projector light. Then, for the rest of the film, Russell produces high abstraction from close-up images of Pryor performing on stage. The black and white contrast is made absolute, and Russell mirrors the footage against a vertical axis down the center of the frame, producing undulating Rorschach blots, out of which Pryor’s hands and visage periodically emerge. At the start, this maneuver is silent. But by the four-minute mark, Russell has reintroduced sound. Audience noise rises and falls, sounding like airstrip noise, while a black pyramid shape flaps against the frameline. (Appropriately, at the 7.5 minute mark, Russell shows the edge of the stage, which resembles an airplane wing. In between, of course, there is the usual skull-like / cricket-head blobbery.) The impact is striking; as with true abstraction, the representational image becomes subsumed within a purely formal play, and it entails a struggle on the part of the viewer to retain focus on Pryor as a stable image inside the film. In this respect, Russell has brought his phenomenological concerns regarding audienceship to an ideal crisis point. The audience for experimental film and the audience for Pryor’s work may or may not intersect, but we can certainly agree that these groups have attached to them, fairly or not, certain demographic assumptions — raced ones, classed ones, ones based on demeanor as an audience member, etc. At the crux of these difference is the very Kantian aestheticized gaze that Russell continually stages and subverts with Pryor’s image and voice. Black and White Trypps Number Four enacts the distance, but is not nearly as distant as we’ve grown accustomed to, even by the standards of someone like Sharits, whose films do indeed grab one by the throat. By the end, Pryor has defeated abstraction, or at least reached a detente with it. (Compare Pryor’s star turn with the fates of Barbara Hershey or Eli Wallach in the Tscherkassky oeuvre for stark comparison.) Russell literally gives the comedian the last word: “What’re you taking my picture for? Who you gonna show it to? Who gives a fuck?”
– Michael Sicinski, The Academic Hack