Thu, Jul 12-Sun, Jul 15
Admission per screening: $10 regular/ $8 YBCA Member, senior, student, teacher
Examining the complex and magical relationship between still and moving images, this five-part series presents films structured around the still photograph and how it can address the perception of time, memory, and the nature of cinema. Included are films by Agnès Varda, Raúl Ruiz, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Hollis Frampton, Jean Eustache, Ken Jacobs, and many more.
Curated by Gustáv Hámos, Katja Pratschke, and Thomas Tode.
Presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.
The series is kindly supported by German Films, AG Kurzfilm, Swedish Filminstitut, and the Cultural Services of the Consulate General of France in San Francisco, and organized by the Concrete Narrative Society e.V. Berlin.
Recall and MemoryJul 12, 2012 7:30pm
“That-has-been” is what Roland Barthes has described as photography’s defining feature. It always points to something that is no more. One could say photos are souvenirs; photos frequently assume the role of one's own memories. Films, on the other hand, “flicker”—as Susan Sontag noted—and then “go out” again. They always occur in the here and now. Yet film can also be viewed as a memory container: it safeguards something. This program is comprised of photofilms in which private, personal histories and world history confront each other, and features works by Thierry Knauff, Agnès Varda, Franz Winzentsen, Jerzy Ziarnik, Helke Misselwitz, and Janet Riedel, Katja Pratschke, and Gusztáv Hámos. (93 minutes)
- Le Sphinx (The Sphinx), by Thierry Knauff
- Ulysse (Ulysses), by Agnès Varda
- Die Anprobe (1938) (The Fitting 1938), by Franz Winzentsen
- Powszedni dzién gestapowca Schmidta (Gestapoman Schmidt), by Jerzy Ziarnik
- 35 Fotos (Bilder aus einem Familienalbum) (Pictures from a Family Album), by Helke Misselwitz
- Fiasko – Fragmente nach dem Roman von Imre Kertész (Fiasco – Fragments Based on the Novel by Imre Kertész), by Janet Riedel, Katja Pratschke, Gusztáv Hámos
The Dancing Photo on FilmJul 13, 2012 7:30pm
In its essence, photography is static and silent. It subtracts sound and movement from everything it captures. But in photofilms, the editing process adds sound, music, and language to the photographs; the static images begin to move, even to dance. This program reveals how illusions of movement are created: from stasis to movement, from rhythm to animation. Featuring work by Sabine Höpfner, Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer, Agnès Varda, Arthur Lipsett, Ken Jacobs, Maki Satake, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Dan Geesin and Esther Rots. (85 minutes)
- Hybrid and Superimposition , by Sabine Höpfner
- At One View, by Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer
- Salut les Cubains (Hi There, Cubans) , by Agnès Varda
- Very Nice, Very Nice, by Arthur Lipsett
- Capitalism: Child Labor, by Ken Jacobs
- Omokage (Remains), by Maki Satake
- Pas de repos pour Billy Brakko (No Rest for Billy Brakko), by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
- De Tuin (The Garden) , by Dan Geesin and Esther Rots
The Filmic PhotographicJul 14, 2012 2:00pm
The program brings together films that take as their subject the photographic: the search for the motif, the gesture of photographing, the materiality of the image, the reality beyond the image (hors-champs), and the description of the found image. The film medium requires a linear arrangement of the photographs, which the authors utilize to develop an analytical discussion on perception, recollection, and desire. Featuring work by Silke Grossmann, Shelly Silver, Esaias Baitel, Hollis Frampton, and Sean Snyder. (90 minutes)
Photo NovelJul 14, 2012 4:00pm
The narrative photofilms compiled here are, to a certain extent, time crystals in which different worlds appear next to or even mirrored in one another. A multilayered dialogue develops between the spoken word and the image. This program is dedicated to photofilms that quote the history of cinema and experiment with narrative forms. Featuring work by Katja Pratschke and Guzstáv Hámos, Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer, Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte, Elfi Mikesch, and Raúl Ruiz. (92 minutes)
- Rien ne va plus (No More), by Katja Pratschke and Guzstáv Hámos
- I Should See, by Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer
- Der Tag eines unständigen Hafenarbeiters (A Day in the Life of a Casual Dock Worker), by Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte
- Execution. A Study Of Mary, by Elfi Mikesch
- Colloque de chiens (Symposium of Dogs), by Raúl Ruiz
The Plasticity of the MomentJul 15, 2012 4:00pm
We seem to be obsessed with recording as many images as possible. And nowadays we often mentally record a multitude of photos in a single moment. This permits us to observe the moment from different perspectives. This film program brings together films that appraise the surface of the photographic image, circling the moment and even entering it. Features works by Paul de Nooijer, Jean Eustache, Tim Macmillan, Maki Satake, Jean-Gabriel Périot, and Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. (92 minutes)
- Transformation by Holding Time–Artist and His Muse, by Paul de Nooijer
- Les Photos d'Alix (The Photographs of Alix), by Jean Eustache
- Ferment, by Tim Macmillan
- Kurashi Ato (Vestige of Life), by Maki Satake
- Nijuman no Borei (200,000 Phantoms), by Jean-Gabriel Périot
- The Writing in the Sand, by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Viva Photofilm—Moving/ Non-moving
Text by Gusztáv Hámos, Katja Pratschke, Thomas Tode
By photofilms we mean films that essentially consist of photographs. Photographs placed in a cinematic context create a filmic experience. In photofilms, the film medium is dissected into its components. Photofilm authors experiment with the relationship of text, sound and image, reflecting on the composition of the cinematographic. They let us “think” cinema.
The images of light from photo and film cameras have effected a sustained change in our perception. With the invention of photography, which re-presents the light reflected on bodies and objects, we suddenly have irrefutable evidence in our hands of something that has been. Through the invention of film, which re-presents the movement from reality in successive phases of image sequences, we turn that which has been into a progressive becoming before our eyes. At the same time we have also gained a new definition of how movement is represented, one that has also transformed both science and art.
Photos stand for the perception of memory, films for the natural perception of movement. But what happens when the image on the silver screen suddenly stops? “For a long time the still image was cinema’s nightmare… Before the introduction of safety film in the early 1950s, a frozen image in a projector meant an immediate danger of fire.” (Daniel Kothenschulte). From the beginnings of film history, it took more than 30 years before the “exploration of the uniqueness of film art” (Hollis Frampton) became concerned with “still images.” With freeze frames in films by Dziga Vertov, Boris Barnett, Siodmak/Ulmer, and especially with the Deutsche Werkbundausstellung (German Work Federation Exhibition) “Film und Foto” in 1929, for the first time ever the relationship between the two media was systematically put into context. To this day, the use of still images in film causes surprise. It disconcerts us, challenges and stimulates us. We see film images because they move; we see still images because our eyes move over them. This sensing is comparable to the sensing movements of our consciousness, jumping back and forth between the various layers of reality, between the past and the present.
In 1896 Henri Bergson had, parallel to the beginning of film history, “faultlessly discovered” (Gilles Deleuze) in his book Matière et mémoire the existence of movement images. In 1907 he noted in L’Evolution créatrice, that human perception tends to view “reality” in self-contained, frozen states similar to “snapshots”: “Perception, language, intellectual understanding all proceed in this general way.” Our perception apparatus can only intuitively infer real movement, in its true duration, but we are unable to seize movement itself and comprehend it. Thus in the cinema, the sensing consciousness continually jumps back and forth between the comprehensible and the inconceivable.
“We take snapshots, as it were, of the passing reality, and, as these are characteristic of the reality, we have only to string them on a becoming, abstract, uniform and invisible, situated at the back of the apparatus of knowledge, in order to imitate what there is that is characteristic in this becoming itself. Perception, intellectual understanding, language so proceed in general. Whether we would think becoming, or express it, or even perceive it, we hardly do anything else than set going a kind of cinematographer inside us.” (Henri Bergson)
Bergson’s “inner cinematographer,” who is responsible for the perception apparatus, does not register any characteristic images from the movement, but rather random snapshots. For memory, an inner photographer would have to be responsible for recording the characteristic images, similar to that which we see in the cinema when looking at photofilms. The contradiction of moving/non-moving is not just one of many contradictions, but rather it denotes the fundamental conflict in our perception, intellectual understanding and language.
According to Roland Barthes, the photo is a direct reference to the real, to reality, to the world, “the REFERENCE that represents the basic principle of PHOTOGRAPHY. Hence the name of the neome of PHOTOGRAPHY is: ‘that-has-been’…that which I see occurred there at that place located between infinity and the perceiving subject.” A photograph contains a moment that we are able to hold in our hands. It reveals a moment in a way that we are not able to see with our natural perception. We recognize more in a photo than that which we would be able to naturally see in a moment. The photo represents something that has been. We comprehend in a natural way the photographic image as representing that which has passed. The photograph taken in the past shows us something that is no longer thus. We imagine — inspired by the photo — the future of the past. The photo gives us cause to consider: The past of that which has been, the present of that which has been and the future of that which has been. All have been, all have passed.
Film is an indirect reference to the real, to reality, to the world. A film contains a temporal duration (e.g. 24 frames/second) which we can neither comprehend, nor hold in our hands as a moving image projection. The projected film shows a moving image that appears to us as-in-natural-perception. Are we able to recognize more in the cinema than we would be able to see naturally during the recording? In the cinema too, we do not see the world as we would naturally. Like the still image, film represents something that has been. And yet paradoxically, we comprehend the moving image sequences as the present. A film always occurs now, because the illusion of movement continually updates and hurls itself anew into the here and now. It is true that film shows something of the past, but the process of perception at the present moment does not let us think about the past; our attention is fully occupied by what will be, the future. That which captivates our eyes at the present moment in the cinema, that which interests us, is the becoming. All in the future, all coming into being.
The photo in film invites us to see a direct reference to the real, to reality, to the world. In the context of the fleeting images in film, the photo stands for constancy, although we are not able to hold it in our hands. The photo in a cinematographic context shows us a moment in a way that we would not be able to see it with our natural perception in a film. We are able to recognize more in the non-moving image (in film) than we would be able to see in a moving image.
The photo in film assures us that what we are seeing now has been there beyond doubt. It gives us this reference to the past in cinema’s own present and thus permits us to think about all further time dimensions. When we look at a photo on the cinema screen, on the one hand we see the self-contained future of the past of the photo and on the other hand we expect a future of the cinema’s present. The photo in a cinematographic context contains all states of time that refer to what has been (the past of that which has been, the present of that which has been and the future of that which has been). And on top of that, something is waiting for us there that is still becoming.
“If a film image stops, the illusion is shattered that same instant.” (Daniel Kothenschulte) Or to be more precise: The illusion of the movement is shattered in that moment and irritation arises. In order to clarify this unusual situation, our mind becomes active. As soon as the image stops in the film, it invites us to contemplate and we are pleased at “seeing more”: interpreting the image as a concept, participating in the author’s study of the images, and being inspired by the imaginary extension.
Photofilms demand active, thinking viewers. Christa Blümlinger wrote that Agnès Varda brings together two elements in her photo and essay films: The sensual level and reflection. Photofilm authors reflect, discuss, involve the viewer in the process of perusal. “Photos and voices also become associated in photofilms: Links which have to be actively formed by the viewer.” (Ole Frahm) “If you have a photograph in front of you and place another one beside it, you automatically begin to search for a connection…There’s a proper “program” that then begins to run in your brain in order to connect up this encounter.” (Gerd Roscher) We automatically search for meaning, yearn for interpretation.
The photofilm deconstructs cinema into single frames, language, sound, music — and treats its elements as independent components. Taking these “building blocks,” the photofilm is consciously assembled in a playful way to become a projected reality. The photofilm opens up interspaces. The interspaces are — as Raymond Bellour said — “between the images” and cause the consecutive nature of the filmic in the first place. Between the unmoving images in films, there are blank spaces. However, these are potential spaces (D. Winnicott) which are charged up by the imagination. The interspaces in photofilms are just as important as the still images. “Something always remains hidden, like something always fundamentally remains hidden in photography.” (Elfi Mikesch) And the photofilm makes us sensitive to what is hidden in the moving and the still image, in language, sound and music.
Photofilm gives us a time-image: “The time-arresting photo mutates in the film strip into a film still…Still images in a film are not so still at all. Within them are rumbling and roaring…Film has charged the still image with time. From the beginning, the still image is also a time-image…The noise of the grain is a barely perceptible visual vibrato: From the very first moment it lets us feel that the images are based on time. Film breathes. Time is noticeably safeguarded in it.” (Gerry Schumm)
The photofilm contains all conceivable times. It can be regarded as a time container for memory and recollection: “Not everything can be remembered! That which cannot be remembered, the immemorable of film: Despite this force set in the course of time, at the same time the photofilm holds something which would not be memorable otherwise.” (Ole Frahm)
Photofilms could work as follows: The photographer deliberately records moments from “reality” gliding past which characteristically express that which interests him or her. Then these still images are taken by the cinematographer and, driven by the urge to become into being, are placed in a filmic context. On the silver screen, the photo is opened out in all directions. It inspires us to imagine movement, and thus all layers of time.
The photo on the cinema screen invokes the self-contained future of the photo’s past, while conversely also calling forth the future of the cinema’s present, through the sounds, music, language, and moving or non-moving images. In the universe of photofilm, an exceptional anti-hierarchical arrangement of the individual media prevails which often leaves unclear which is caused by which. Chris Marker’s ultimate photofilm La Jetée (France, 1962) was the first to demonstrate vividly that what is typical of the film medium is not exhausted by the presentation of movement, but can be further developed in the structuring and processing of time. The photofilm shows the photo (which stands for the past) its own present in the cinema and hence permits us to imagine all conceivable time dimensions — inspired possibly by La Jetée, Hubertus von Amelunxen developed the idea of a completed future.
Inspired by Roland Barthes’ “The Third Meaning” it may be said that the future of the filmic is not strictly in movement, but rather in a third meaning, a framework for the unfolding of permutations that make a new theory of the photogram conceivable.
© 2010 Gusztáv Hámos, Katja Pratschke, Thomas Tode
Translation: Finbarr Morrin, supported by AG Kurzfilm
RECALL AND MEMORY
Le Sphinx (The Sphinx)
By Thierry Knauff
A sonorous voice — accompanied only by a discreet percussion beat and the sound of buzzing flies — reads aloud from Jean Genet's text about the massacre of Palestinians in the Shatila refugee camp. Genet describes in a deliberately sober manner what he sees: the tortured bodies of victims on the streets and the trauma of the survivors. The black-and-white photos edited parallel to the spoken text show portraits of people of all ages—including lovers, school classes, and pensioners—taken in a Brussels park in front of a sphinx statue. In between, the never-changing, unshaken face of the sphinx: far removed from Palestine. (1985, 12 min, 35mm)
By Agnès Varda
Agnès Varda reflects on a photo she took in 1954: a stony beach, a dead goat in the foreground to the right, a boy facing the goat in the background to the left, and a naked man looking away from the viewer towards the sea. “The form of the repeatedly renewed perusals does not merely take Varda from a studium to an enigmatic, touching punctum of photography in the meaning of Roland Barthes. In addition it also leads back to her former models, whom she manages to find after twenty-eight years in order to highlight with their bodies and their speech (or lack of it) the difference to what has been, the everlasting and immemorial aspects of photography. Her observation of a photo does not want to provide a conclusive perusal or convey autobiographical certainty, but rather via the reconstruction of the action which was the basis of the photo, it introduces doubt especially.” (Christa Blümlinger) (1982, 22 min, 35mm)
Die Anprobe (1938) (The Fitting 1938)
By Franz Winzentsen
An egg cell is permitted a glimpse into its future world and finds itself in the Nazi era. This presents itself as an ironic collage of the everyday, the private, and the familiar. The film consists of found postcards, catalogue illustrations, and collections of pictures from the Nazi period as well as the director’s own photos, to which he adds further layers. He animates, illuminates, and moves the original material, diverting it from its purpose, putting it into new contexts, and reinterpreting the images: in a (nightmarish) dream, everything gets mixed up; butterfly formations with the menacing noise of bomb squadrons fly over a sewing pattern and ultimately also over destroyed cities. The film ends with the director's birth. (1985, 14 min, digital)
Powszedni dzién gestapowca Schmidta (Gestapoman Schmidt)
By Jerzy Ziarnik
From a photo album left behind in Warsaw by Gestapo officer Schmidt, 129 images have been selected, which are only elaborated by Schmidt’s appallingly matter-of-fact photo comments—the location, time, and name of the victims. (1964, 10 min, 35mm)
35 Fotos (Bilder aus einem Familienalbum) (Pictures from a Family Album)
By Helke Misselwitz
On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the founding of communist East Germany, the DEFA state production company produced a compilation, a so-called Kinobox, with short films, including this one. The film shows the life of a female GDR citizen born in 1949, the year the republic was founded. Thirty-five photos in chronological order, one for each year of her life, solely document her everyday life: the woman as a baby, with her parents, in school, during her apprenticeship, marriage, the first child, the second one, her first job, the divorce. The authorities who ordered the work did not permit (at once) the finished film to be screened as it did not seem “representative” to them. (1984/85, 3 min, 35mm)
Fiasko – Fragmente nach dem Roman von Imre Kertész (Fiasco – Fragments Based on the Novel by Imre Kertész)
By Janet Riedel, Katja Pratschke, Gusztáv Hámos
The Hungarian Jewish Köves comes upon an eerily strange but oddly familiar place, and experiences déjà vu as he encounters the vortex of the opaque system of Stalin’s Hungary, as depicted through split-screen photographs. (2010, 32 min, 35mm)
THE DANCING PHOTO ON FILM
Hybrid and Superimposition
By Sabine Höpfner
Höpfner does not work only with photos and x-ray images but also with the photogram, which is created without a camera by exposing sensitive material to light. At the beginning the film quotes the Polish experimental filmmaker Stefan Themerson, who explains how the first “natural” photogram was created: “When the apple was still green, a little leaf got stuck to its surface...” An homage to the white shadows. (1997/98, 6 min, 16mm)
At One View
By Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer
Two men—the filmmakers themselves—are sitting on chairs facing the camera while a fire burns in the fireplace in the background. Photographic portraits of the two of them alternate on their faces like masks. In a state of permanent transformation, the reproduced and the “real” heads turn towards each other, turn away again, direct their gazes up and down, with the photo as an object being crumpled up and unfolded again. Meanwhile, the flames blaze in the fireplace, the fire goes out, turns into ashes and, again and again, it begins to burn anew. For the viewer, this fire makes visible the compression of time that always plays a role in animated film. Off-screen we hear contradictory messages that reflect the fleeting, deceptive, and personal nature of photography and film. (2005, 7 min, 16mm)
Salut les Cubains (Hi There, Cubans)
By Agnès Varda
Varda brought back 3,000 photos from a trip to Cuba which she assembled into an extremely joyous travel tale with a commentary by Michel Piccoli and herself. “An educational documentary made like a divertimento. A powerful conga, an even more powerful cha-cha-cha whose rhythm Fidel Castro, Wilfred Lam, Beni Moré and sugarcane cutters and militia women and children and even cats dance to and live by.” (Varda) “In the photographic series, short temporal intervals are presented (there is a total of four animations of this kind in the film) which differ from other quickly edited shot sequences in which the intervals between the filmed photographs are marked by spatial or motivic jumps. Frieda Grafe sees in the ‘unnatural’ rhythm of this film a sense of natural rhythm ‘that no other person is able to imitate.’” (Christa Blümlinger) Narrated by Michel Piccoli. (1963, 30 min, 35mm)
Very Nice, Very Nice
By Arthur Lipsett
Portraying the satiated consumer society, alienated and confused, the film begins with photos of office buildings, a sign for a one-way street and an off-screen voice that announces: “In this city marches an army whose motto is...” A horn blows loudly three times. Lipsett arouses his audience out of its frozen state: marching bands, drumbeats, bursts of laughter, jazz music, and fragments of sentences meld together into a sound collage. As counterpoints to this, Lipsett assembles portrait shots, photos of crowds, advertising pictures, iconographic images from the mass media: Gagarin, Marilyn Monroe, Nixon, the boy from the Warsaw Ghetto, the detonation of the H bomb as one of the two moving image sequences. Can we still be saved? (1961, 7 min, 16mm)
Capitalism: Child Labor
By Ken Jacobs
Jacobs digitally animates a Victorian stereoscopic photograph of a 19th century factory floor crowded with machinery and child workers. Jacobs isolates the faces of individuals and details of the image, as if searching out the human and the particular within this mechanized field of mass production. Space appears to fold in on itself as Jacobs activates the stereograph; the agitated image flickers and stutters, but the motion never in fact progresses. (Electronic Arts Intermix) (2006, 14 min, digital)
Note: This work should not be viewed by individuals with epilepsy or seizure disorders.
By Maki Satake
Satake’s grandfather died ten years ago and left a series of photos. Travelling to the places where they were taken, she reconstructs the original viewpoints of the photos and begins an animated, reflective dialog. (2010, 6 min, digital)
Pas de repos pour Billy Brakko (No Rest for Billy Brakko)
By Jean-Pierre Jeunet
The film depicts the wacky story of its protagonist who would like to have been a hero in a comic where heroes never die. A film that rapidly assembles images from animated films, film quotes, and moving image sequences like shorthand symbols while simultaneously removing the movement from it all through the fast-paced narrative and editing. All that remains are iconographic impressions. (1983, 4 min, 35 mm)
De Tuin (The Garden)
By Dan Geesin and Esther Rots
The film reveals minor incidents in the style of a satirical soap opera in its still images: the gardener is cutting the hedge, the lady of the house is reading the newspaper on the terrace, a car drives up, the stableman arrives. Every scene consists of two phase images that, edited rhythmically back and forth, create a minimal but tense sense of flinching. The viewer automatically starts to imagine relationships between the characters, drawing virtues and vices from the looks in their eyes corresponding to the genre clichés of photo novels. “You naturally assume that the daughter and the stableman will end up having sex, that the gardener is out to watch them, that the lady of the house is jealous, and that all her husband cares about is money. At the end of the video, you have no trouble recounting the story, and you realize with amazement that you have not actually seen any of it happening.” (Netherlands Media Art Institute) (1999, 11 min, digital)
THE FILMIC PHOTOGRAPHIC
Die Gefühle der Augen (The Feelings of the Eyes)
By Silke Grossmann
Grossmann’s film combines photographs (stills) and moving images with each other in four chapters: 1. vegetation; 2. the work process of a woman at a printing machine; 3. close-ups of the faces of a man and a woman; and 4. a female dancer's movement. This experiment directly and deliberately places filmic images of movement next to photographs with dynamic image compositions, as a comparison. “And suddenly the surface begins to breathe, the material rising and sinking in the moving image. The filmed movements should be minimal, Silke Grossmann said, in order to denote ever more clearly the borderline with photo. The eye functions in a tactile manner here, feeling the world for its natural juxtapositions, for its inherent differences.” (Michaela Ott) (1985/87, 16 min, 16mm)
What I'm Looking For
By Shelly Silver
The narrator heads off to Lower Manhattan to meet some “blind dates,” or encounters with women and men whom she has got to know in an internet art project, with a clear mutual understanding: they show her what they have always wanted to reveal and she photographs it. “The off-screen voice speaks about the desire to freeze the moment—and to set it in motion itself. Again and again. She speaks about the yearning to control time in which the desire itself is channeled. ‘I want to stop time…I want control. To see the same movement repeated over and over. I want time to be liquid, flowing forward and back. Then to stop. So I can see between these gaps to what's missing.’” (Verena Kuni) (2004, 15 min, digital)
Zonen (The Zone)
By Esaias Baitel
The Zone is a story about French Hells Angels and Nazi symbols, about sex, drugs, hatred, and violence. The Swedish photographer Esaias Baitel spent four years, from 1977 to 1981, photographing racist and anti-Semitic street gangs in the suburbs of Paris. The gang members did not realize that the photographer paying them so much attention was himself a child of Holocaust survivors. (2003, 10 min, 35mm)
By Hollis Frampton
Thirteen shots of almost the exact same length, 13 photos from 1958 to 1966: 12 photos that the author himself took of his artist friends, his studio, and himself; and one newspaper photo. A voice describes the content of each image, the backgrounds and the memories that it evokes. As the voice speaks, the photo being shown gradually burns up on a cooker hotplate and is transformed into ashes. Furthermore, a tectonic shift between commentary and image proceeds. The viewers thus find themselves caught up in a process of recollection and prophecy. “Films like this, with a clear construction, are often journeys of discovery as they are initial filmic explorations. They want us to think proactively, to contemplate, to try things out with them. You can feel something in these films that is often blocked, drowned out, glued or pasted over at the interfaces in other films.” (Gerry Schumm) Narrated by Michel Snow. (1971, 36 min, 16mm)
Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars
By Sean Snyder
This video examines conventions for producing and consuming war images from Iraq and elsewhere. The commentary quotes from a rule book for journalists: “A photojournalist is a mixture of a cool detached professional and a sensitive involved citizen. A photojournalist should imagine what it would be like to be the subject of the photograph. A story usually has five kinds of pictures: an overall setting, a medium distance interaction, a portrait, a close-up, and an ending picture. The photograph should rather place the main subject in the context for the reader. Finally the ending picture sums up and concludes the set of pictures.” Snyder utilizes both amateur pictures, which are increasingly making their way into photojournalism, as well as images from the Associated Press. Not only does he comment on the informative status of media images, he points out the subtle shifting of information in the direction of advertising, because product placement works in media images. (Vera Tollman) (2004/05, 13 min, digital)
Rien ne va plus (No More)
By Katja Pratschke and Guzstáv Hámos
In two photographic movements and as an homage to two films — Rashomon and L’année dernière à Marienbad — this photo novel narrates the stories of two couples: the first are refugees illegally crossing a border, the second a well-off roulette-playing pair with a troubled relationship. In each case one of the partners dies and crosses the border between the here and now, and the hereafter. In the shadowy realm of the dead, a kind of mirrored parallel world, they reencounter one another and get a second chance to return: a free replay. But the incursion into time changes the lives of the others. “For us it's not about having a polished structure for seeing, but rather about breaking up light and time that, for us, permits various worlds to appear next to each other—and even entwine. What we are aiming for is the ‘completeness of time,’ to show within a time period different events at the same time that repeat themselves incessantly in both the here and now and in the hereafter.”(Pratschke / Hámos) (2005, 30 min, 35mm)
I Should See
By Paul de Nooijer and Menno de Nooijer
A photographer loads the camera with a roll of film and closes it. From this moment on, the viewer is situated inside the dark body of the camera and only sees the posed-like events as soon as the photographer presses the shutter. (1991, 3 min, 16mm)
Der Tag eines unständigen Hafenarbeiters (A Day in the Life of a Casual Dock Worker)
By Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte
The film describes the daily routine of a casual dock worker who finds himself near the bottom of the labor hierarchy, from when he gets up in the morning to when he goes to bed at night. “Yet already at the beginning of the film, the series of seven portraits of a nameless, casual dock worker are left without comment, silent; they will remain the only portraits in the film. What could function as a prologue actually indicates that here is a person who does not have his own voice. He smiles, yet he says nothing. What could mark him as social subject remains unspoken, no origin, no characteristic traits — he is the same as many others.”(Ole Frahm) In the commentary, Fichte utilizes the culturally specific language of the dock workers without completely disowning himself as the author. The photographs and words provide an analytical view of capitalist working conditions and the leisure-time culture of the “casuals.” Three moving image sequences — a beer advertisement, a football game by the national team on television, and a scene in the popular Starclub — interrupt the sequence of photos. (1966, 13 min, digital)
Execution. A Study Of Mary
By Elfi Mikesch
Mikesch’s film is a study of the Scottish Queen Maria Stuart, with her life and death enacted in photographs. “The contradictory nature of the material which Mary's persona has been surrounded by over the course of time gave me the idea about trivializing this ‘royal story.’ I compressed the information into images of passion, power, love, pain, and death.”(Mikesch). The film experiments with the doubling of movement: Mikesch reinforces the already existing dynamic in the staged photos in the darkroom by means of her own movements. In a “moving image” that is not yet a film, her physical movements become visible, they glide with the film camera over the photographed image, seeking new details, mirroring, turning, and repeating them in the editing. The result is a highly concentrated narrative. (1979, 28 min, 16mm)
Colloque de chiens (Symposium of Dogs)
By Raúl Ruiz
Dogs tell the story of a young mother who abandons her child and becomes a prostitute. But then when she falls in love and would like to leave her past behind, she triggers a series of confusing events that lead to deceit, tragedy, and murder. This parody of a South American fotonovela explores the ambiguous nature of image and language; complete sentences and gestures repeat themselves and take on different meanings, while at the same time a sense of fatefulness and of eternal recurrence arises. (1979, 18 min, 35mm)
THE PLASTICITY OF THE MOMENT
Transformation by Holding Time–Artist and His Muse
By Paul de Nooijer
We see a photographer taking shots with a Polaroid of a naked model on a sofa. He sticks the Polaroids progressively onto an invisible pane of glass right in front of the camera until in the end only this newly created photographic “mosaic” of the woman can be seen. (1976, 4 min, 16mm)
Les Photos d'Alix (The Photographs of Alix)
By Jean Eustache
The photographer Alix Cléo Roubaud shows a young man her photos, talking about them as they look at them together. Each of the photos appears as a counter-shot. Eighteen in total. Yet after a while, doubts emerge: we are not seeing what is being described. “That which is being said by the voice of this woman who picks up, retouches, and often also makes these photos unrecognizable force us to see that which we would not be able to see without her, yet also in order to move us to see other things, that is to say, everything that we see and are able to imagine.” As time passes, the gulf between what is being said and the event that has occurred becomes greater and greater “so that we are overcome by a disquiet mingled with fascination.” (Raymond Bellour) (1980, 18 min, 16mm)
By Tim Macmillan
The film begins with a moving image shot in slow motion of a quiet city square. A man has a heart attack and falls off a bench. Time and people come to a standstill. The camera glides into the plastic images, away from this place, across the city, through streets, buildings, rooms, and corridors, past frozen situations (shot with Macmillan's unique time-slice camera) that co-exist in this one moment. (1999, 5 min, 35mm)
Kurashi Ato (Vestige of Life)
By Maki Satake
Satake visits her grandparents’ abandoned house. In the empty rooms she holds up photos of earlier visits and family get-togethers. The “image within an image” speaks of happiness and childhood, desire and memory, revealing the voracious time for what it actually was. (2009, 12 min, digital)
Nijuman no Borei (200,000 Phantoms)
by Jean-Gabriel Périot
The film commemorates Hiroshima by following the changes in a single spot in the city throughout the 20th century with the help of 600 photos: the place is a building with a striking dome, one of the few which remained standing, burnt-out, after the nuclear strike. Today it is known as the Genbaku Dome Peace Memorial. In black and white and color, with constantly changing formats and angles, the film reveals the before and after of an unalterable moment. Around the ruins, life slowly resumes, people return, and routes, huts, streets, and skyscrapers fill up the void up again. (2007, 10 min 35mm)
The Writing in the Sand
By Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Konttinen’s film lives within the precise photographic moment, from snapshots on the beaches in North England, taken over a ten-year period. For the film, she assembled these into sequences and utilized the photographic image as something real, like a live setting. The camera, constantly in motion, tracks down the surface of the image without ever reaching to the edge of the photograph. And in this way Konttinen opens up the image to all sides. “Noisy rituals, always the same ones and always surprising: leaps into the surf, bodiless, grinning heads in the sand, mermaids melt into the sea at the end of the day. And all this happens again the next day and during the next summer and for a long time after I have taken my photographs.” (Konttinen) A moment of happiness elongated. (1991, 43 min, 16mm)
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.