Photo: Arnulf Rainer, Dir. Peter Kubelka

alva.noto, Thomas Köner, Tony Conrad & Various Artists

Film Programme 5: Form

Reveling in the geometric, mathematical and perceptual relationship between sound and form, this programme features one of the landmark works of experimental film in Kubelka’s Arnulf Rainer.  A pure example of minimal composition, it is also one of the most complex, enduring and expressive of structuralist or flicker films.
 
 
Filmusic Part 2 , Dir. Chris Garratt, UK, 197810 mins, 16mm
 
Filmusic Part 2 uses horizontal stripes, ranging from thick to thin, printed directly onto the film stock of photographic negatives. The stripes are read as both pictures and sound image, producing a 'square wave' tone whose pitch is determined by the frequency of the stripes. Two prints of this film are projected side by side, one of them back to front. (Chris Garratt)
 
 
Trioon 1, Dir. Karl Kliem, Germany, 2003, 3 mins 28 secs,  Beta SP
Music: alva.noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto
 
Two musical elements - piano and electronic sinewaves - are represented visually: the piano as abstract keyboards and the sinewaves as overlapping streaks. (interfilm berlin)
 
Karl Kliem is a founding member of Frankfurt based media lab meso, developing realtime audio and video systems, diverse works in the area of multimedia, webdesign, tv-design, music and sound production for films and interactive installations. He is also a member of involving-systems.
 
 
Bluetime, Dir. Frank Bretschneider, Germany, 2001, 3 mins 10 secs, Beta SP 
Music: Frank Bretschneider, Taylor Dupree
 
Bluetime is part of a series of nine films, created for the live performance of „Balance“ (a cooperation with Taylor Deupree, N.Y., released as CD on Mille Plateaux, 2001). 
 
Actually they aren’t films or music videos, but visual realizations of frequency - and amplitude behavior of the music. As they are quite reduced, the form chosen for the visuals was as similiar. Just like the music, the visuals were created by the aid of a computer. (Frank Bretschneider)
 
 
Sinus_passage, Dir. Didi Bruckmayr, Michael Strohmann, Austria, 2004, 5 mins, Beta SP
Music: Fuckhead
 
In the video to the song Sinus_passage by the group Fuckhead, pictures generate from sounds. An “audio machine” sends acoustic data signals to a “video machine” whose software reshapes the sound into symbolic views. Sinus_passage thus concentrates on the essentials of the digital principle, namely, the ability to reduce the world and things into numbers and then transform these into other forms. The interdependent relationship of image and sound as a form of communication between computer programmes presents the principle of the video: as an induction control loop, the sound plane causes the image production through the detour of digital translation. In this way, abstract, graphic depictions arise. As though one were standing too close to an oversized picture screen, the events remain undecipherable. Lines, points, and thick strokes in a black and white pattern extend horizontally and vertically across the screen. Sometimes it is possible to imagine structures, fragments of typographic ornaments.
 
A minimalist soundtrack hovers over the searching movements of a virtual video camera. This exploration is found again in the sounds, which are reminiscent of a radio’s automatic search for a station.
 
Sinus_passage takes strict mathematical guidelines as the basis for artistic output, an established process in electronic music as well as experimental film and video art, which leads here to a pleasurable sight and sound experience: the synthetic sounds and their graphic equivalents suggest a tactile composition, which opens the picture to rhythmic spaces. (Andrea Pollach)
 
 
Line Fill 2, Dir. Pekka Sassi, Finland, 2003, 3 mins 16 secs, Beta SP
 
Line Fill 2 is a kinetic immersion to an immaterial world. The video is made by shooting from close distance lines that are printed on a paper. The music is composed using rising and falling test signals of a varied length. (Av-Arrki)
 
 
w_sqr, Dir. m.ash, Austria, 2003, 3 mins, Beta SP
 
White square; on black; brown noise. The viewer first sees a white square situated in the center of a black field; it flares up, disappears and changes size synchronously with the soundtrack. The quick succession of images, the jumps in scale and maximum contrast between black and white irritate the eye and leave afterimages on the retina.
 
Artist and computer programmer m.ash, aka Michael Aschauer, employed solely computer-generated elements. Digital “brown noise” was broken down into hundreds of individual components and then played through a random number generator. A crackling audible at the edges of the sound units is layered over the constant dully rumbling noise, and it structures and adds rhythm to the audio track.
 
Analogies to historically relevant works by Kasimir Malevitch and Peter Kubelka are inevitable. In contrast to these great predecessors, m.ash allows the digital machinery to communicate in its own mathematical language. The artist developed a program which makes aesthetic and formal decisions for him; all subjectivity and questions of taste have been eliminated. (Norbert Pfaffenbichler)
 
 
Banlieue Du Vide, Dir. Thomas Köner, Germany2003, 12 mins 12 secs, Beta SP
 
During last winter I collected (via the Internet) about 3 000 pictures taken by surveillance cameras. The images I selected show empty roads at night, covered with snow. The soundtrack consists of grey noise and traffic sounds, created from memory. The only movement that is visible are the changes of snow covering the roads. (Thomas Köner)
 
A feeling of transition and disappearance comes both from the slow movement of the pictures the artist has chosen and also from the sound composed by Köner. Both together gives the piece a timeless character. Banlieue du Vide refers to an existential quality of everything that is in the process of disappearing. Waiting and absence define our existence: what we are looking at is always fading away from us. Thomas Köner is underlining the importance of the trace, the erosion and also the time that is passing. A self-portrait. (Nicole Gingras)
 
 
Straight and Narrow, Dir. Beverly Conrad, Tony Conrad, USA, 197010 mins, 16mm
Music: John Cale, Terry Riley
 
Straight and Narrow is a study in subjective colour and visual rhythm. Although it is printed on black and white film, the hypnotic pacing of the images will cause viewers to experience a programmed gamut of hallucinatory colour effects. Straight And Narrow uses the flicker phenomenon not as an end in itself, but as an effectuator of other related phenomena. In this film the colours which are so illusory in The Flicker are visible and under the programmed control of the filmmaker. Also, by using images which alternate in a vibrating flickering schedule, a new impression of motion and texture is created. (Filmmakers Coop)
 
 
Arnulf Rainer, Dir. Peter Kubelka, Austria, 1960, 6 mins 30 secs, 16mm
 
Arnulf Rainer’s images are the most ‘reduced’ of all — this is a film composed entirely of frames of solid black and solid white which Kubelka strings together in lengths as long as 24 seconds and as short as a single frame. When he alternates between single black and white frames, a rapid flicker effect is produced, which is as close as Kubelka can come to the somewhat more rapid flicker of motion-picture projection; during the long sections of darkness one waits in nervous anticipation for the flicker to return, without knowing precisely which form it will take. But Arnulf Rainer is not merely a study of film rhythm and flicker. In reducing the cinema to its essentials, Kubelka has not stripped it of meaning, but rather made an object which has qualities so general as to suggest a variety of possible meanings, each touching on some essential aspect of existence. (Fred Camper) 
 
He has even created a film whose images can no more be 'turned off' by the closing of eyes than can the soundtrack thereof it (for it is composed entirely of white frame rhythming thru black inter-spaces and of such an intensity as to create its patternstraight thru closed eyelids) so that the whole 'mix' of the audio-visual experience is clearly 'in the head,' so to speak: and if one looks at it openly, one can see one's own eye cells as if projected onto the screen and can watch one's optic physiology activated by the sound track in what is, surely, the most basic Dance of Life of all (for the sounds of the film do resemble and, thus, prompt the inner-ear's hearing of its own pulse output at intake of sound). I would simply like to say: Peter Kubelka is the world's greatest filmmaker. (Stan Brakhage)
 
Below are some online links which you can use for reference. To see the films in their original glory, check with the distributors of the films for their terms and conditions.
  • Trioon 1, Dir. Karl Kliem

  • w_sqr, Dir. m.ash

  • Banlieue Du Vide, Dir. Thomas Köner

  • Arnulf Rainer, Dir. Peter Kubelka