Recently restored prints of films by the overlooked 1970s Los Angeles avant-gardist Gary Beydler bookend this programme of films that explore cinema's ability to fracture and re-stitch time.
The Academy Film Archive recently restored four films by Gary Beydler (including the two screening in tonight's programme), bringing deserved wider attention to a distinctive voice from the vibrant Los Angeles art scene of the 1970s, one who was both in tune with the Conceptualism of his contemporaries yet imbued with a lyricism slightly askew from the tastes of his time. Beydler's Pasadena Freeway Stills begins with a sterile set-up — a man places a photograph of a car window on a glass sheet-and then turns into a stunning study of the creation of movement in motion pictures, as successively placed photographs physically animate a drive through the Figueroa tunnels just outside of Pasadena. For Venice Pier, Beydler divided the quarter-mile long pier into segments that he would shoot at random intervals during the course of an entire year. The edited film maintains a forward movement down the pier, but weather, atmosphere and light fluctuate in each segment, as Beydler shot these segments chronologically out of sequence.
Montreal engineer-turned-filmmaker Alexandre Larose's work represents a similar melding of lyricism and technical bravado. Artifices #1, originally shot on Super 8 and blown up to 16mm, was filmed using a contraption designed to spin the camera while it was shooting, creating circles of light as the camera is driven through the highway tunnels of Montreal. For Ville Marie, the camera was also placed in a homemade apparatus and thrown off the roof of the fifty-storey Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal. Larose optically prints the resulting footage into a tour de force of processed colour and abstracted movement, expanding the Super 8 image across the entire plane of 35mm film.
The films of David Kidman, Rose Lowder and Alexi Manis serve as further elucidations of cinema's ability to fracture and re-stitch time. In Kidman's Stochastics, the artist walks through one military parading ground after another, as a series of still photographs become animated into a march that reveals the similar features of different war memorials around the world. Lowder's early film Couleurs mécaniques precedes the staccato frame-by-frame style that would become her trademark, instead basking in the pure colour of a children's carousel, defocusing the image so that the motion of the carousel blends the colours into constellations of light. Manis' The Observatory looks at the constellations of the night sky as sketched by her friend Jerry Spevak during evenings spent watching the stars.
Pasadena Freeway Stills (Gary Beydler, USA 1974, 6 min., 16mm)
Artifices #1 (Alexandre Larose, Canada 2007, 4 min., 16mm)
The Observatory (Alexi Manis, Canada 2004, 4.5 min., 16mm)
Couleurs mécaniques (Rose Lowder, France 1979, 16 min., 16mm)
Stochastics (David Kidman, France 2010, 7 min., 35mm)
Ville Marie (Alexandre Larose, Canada 2009, 12.5 min., 35mm)
Venice Pier (Gary Beydler, USA 1976, 16 min., 16mm)
Alexandre Larose and Alexi Manis in person!