Photo: Still from chronomops, Dir. Tina Frank

Ian Helliwell, Jennifer Reeves, Various Artists & Yasunao Tone

Film Programme 1: Colour

A glance at both analogue and digital processes; the clarity and precision of digital colour or the yawning, endless depth of dye and emulsion, our programme celebrates how both approaches revel in colour, saturation, hue and tone.
 
 
tester, Dir. Michaela Schwentner, Austria, 2004, 5 mins 15 secs, BetaSP
Music: tester by radian
 
The trio radian and Michaela Schwentner, who has translated several pieces by the three well-traveled sound researchers into images, are a proven team. Schwentner goes along with the sounds at precisely their rhythm, reflects and emphasizes the growing intensity, and helps accentuate the fractures in the soundscape. The audio level is treated with greater respect than in conventional music videos, and the musical foundation is left unaltered rather than being (re)interpreted. Extremely economical abstracted means taken from the real world of chromatic- and tonal-value reduction, their selection and arrangement apparently reflecting the title of radian's CD, are employed to create tableaus which are scanned by windows of varying size, shape and number – some of them no more than slits – moving over the black picture, and become wholly visible for only brief sequences. Strictly speaking this involves solely a single motif – varied by means of zooms – the only element, which becomes recognizable, as all the other subjects are merely suggested. The images dispense with all eloquence, plot, commentary, unnecessary ballast. The result, in terms of the music, is a strangely coherent “enrichment”: Despite the opulent visual level of the finale, the music remains what it is and can be enjoyed as if heard from a CD-player. And even if – the other way around – you allow yourself to be totally consumed by the images, the music is not forced into the background: images on their way to becoming music. (Werner Korn)
 
 
chronomops, Dir. Tina Frank, Austria, 2005, 2 mins, BetaSP
 
The doors of perception, electronic style. Tina Frank’s Chronomops opens doors to truly different dimensions: different than digital art’s reductionist studies so common today, different than the serially laid out minimalist images, and different than the omnipresent filtering and layering experiments. Chronomops opens up a shimmering, colourful space that is simultaneously an excess of colour, frenzy of perception, and pop carousel. An abstract architecture of vertical colour bars is set in endless rotation, whereby the modules and building blocks fly around themselves – and the entire system likewise rotates. The forced, in part jerky movement forms a digital maelstrom whose suction pulls the observer deep into it. A system surfacing as though out of a void, steadily plunging through its own dynamic into new excesses of mobility, while adventurously hopping axes, temporarily dissolving into two-dimensional stripes, then lapsing again into a prismatic staccato of light and colour, tend-ing towards a 90 degree angle, sideward – leaving an extreme dizzying feeling in its wake. 
 
Chronomops, accompanied by music from General Magic, which is also composed as a slip stream, thus shows what the pop psyche-delics always knew to be true: that the “other” side looms right around the corner of the perfect groove, a labyrinth of colours and forms set in irregular motion, which merely has to be raised from its invisibility and liberated from its incomprehensible state. Electronic music’s inner life has seldom appeared so colourful and captivating. (Christian Höller)
 
 
Striations, Dir. Ian Helliwell, UK, 2005, 4 mins, BetaSP
 
Ink covered super-8 footage was scratched with a hacksaw blade to produce continuous travelling lines running over different backgrounds throughout the length of the film. The electronic music was created with a combination of home-made Hellitron tone generators - numbers 1, 3 and 6.
 
Since the early 1990s, Bristol based Helliwell has completed a variety of short super 8 films using different techniques including hand painting, bleaching, scratching, paper cut-out animation and collage. He has explored a number of themes in depth, and continues to experiment with abstraction, colour, found footage and electronic sound. 
 
 
View from a Floating Raft (Aussieht von einem treibenden floss), Dir. Karø Goldt, Austria, 2005, 8 mins, BetaSP
 
View from a Floating Raft composes the image with horizontal stripes (a skyline) which at first form a horizon in the lower portion of the picture. Then, in rapid and irregular alternations, constant vibrations, they fill the entire field. This time the lines tend to move rather than the colors. The rhythms of night and day alternate in the space outside the picture, at the same time enabling it to take on a structure. The broken, torn-up melody drives the visual aspect, the contrast provokes a nearly cheerful sight. The space occupied by the images is an open one. (Marc Ries)
 
 
Colour Flight, Dir. Len Lye, New Zealand, 1938, 4 mins, 16mm
Music: Honolulu Blues by Red Nicholas and his Five Pennies.
 
“..(I’m) interested in the business of energy and getting a feeling of zizz.” - Len Lye
 
“All of a sudden it hit me – if there was such a thing as composing music, there could be such a thing as composing motion. After all, there are melodic figures, why can’t there be figures of motion?” – Len Lye
 
Len Lye chose a tune in which he captures and translates the pulsation (rhythm) in a cocktail of colour. We are treated to an "eye nash", which even today seems fresh (or which they don't make like that anymore.)
 
 
Iro (Colours), Dir. Takahiko Iimura, Japan, 1962, 10 mins, 16mm
Sound: Yasunao Tone
 
In Japan, "movie" is called "eiga" which literally means "reflected picture". This indicates how the man who adapted the word into Japanese regarded movie originally. In English, we say "motion picture" which literally means picture in motion. I prefer the word "eiga: reflected picture" to "motion picture". "Reflected picture" emphasizes a state - not a motion - a state where a picture is reflected through light - not a picture which moves. In such a state, motion could be involved since it covers all situations including motion and non-motion: still. (Takahiko Iimura)
 
A striking experiment in colour in which paints are transformed in oil and water, in which melting waxes are mixed, the result being a metamorphosis from one colour to the next. (Donald Richie)
 
 
La Couleur de la Forme, Dir. Hy Hirsh, USA, 1960, 5 mins, 16mm
 
With his last film, Hirsh more than ever justifies a critic's description as 'the Matisse of the Cinema'. Partly collage, partly a study of movement, Hirsh's technique does on film what kinetic art does in sculpture. Mixing positives and negatives, solarisation, double exposure etc., to produce a mental freewheeling of images, a brilliant kaleidoscope dreamworld. With its tangerine skies it might be subtitled 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'. (Lux)
 
Hy Hirsh, who worked in Los Angeles and San Francisco from 1930 until 1955, when he moved to Europe (he died in 1961 in Paris). A still photographer and former Hollywood cameraman, Hirsh was fascinated by technology; he also loved jazz, which not only provided the soundtrack for most of his work but also seems to have influenced its form. (Fred Camper)
 
 
Kosmos, Dir. Thorsten Fleisch, Germany, 2004, 5 mins 11 secs, 16mm
 
As I was heading to the videogames section in a departement store I passed the children's toys section which had a big crystal growing kit for sale with a discounted price. I remembered that I had done stuff like this as a kid and thought how it could be interesting to film the growth of crystals in time lapse so I bought the kit. at home I thought that not only would it be interesting to see them grow but also it might be worth a try to grow them on the filmstrips itself. so I did both and also optical printed some of the results of the crystals on film on the same roll of film. The optical printed crystals on the filmstrips looked very fascinating so I concentrated on that for a few rolls more experimenting with different light situations and focus.
 
I did the sound myself like in most of my films. I was looking for a sound that evokes crystals. I had some high pitched chirpiness in my mind. As a source material I had a jar with broken glass in it that I was shaking and recording the sound of that action. I later edited it on my pc with soundforge, some pitchshifting, layering and EQing and attempted to have a sort of dramatic structure to the visuals. (Thorsten Fleisch)
 
 
The Girl's Nervy, Dir. Jennifer Reeves, USA, 1995, 5 mins, 16mm
 
Exuberant rhythms are created for the eyes in this nostalgic study of the single film frame, through cutting, pasting, and painting clear and photographed film images. Fleeting shapes in lush, spattered color flicker and dance to big band beats. (Filmmaakers’ Co-op)
 
The nervy girl is me, and my filmmaking hands, which cannot remain still. I was experimenting with optical rhythms & direct-on-film techniques, driven by a sense of nostalgia for an earlier time of film art. I listened to music from my old record collection while I was painting, developing, and optically printing the images. The music inspired my work- jazz and new music often produces images in my mind which I turn into films.  During the editing process I chose the soundtrack from my record collection. I seperated the film into 3 sections, corresponding to 3 songs. Each song represents an emotional state transforming from anxiety of anticipation, to joy of the present, and finally sweet sad nostalgia of a time well gone. 
 
Growing up as a kid with a trumpeter father (Jim Reeves), in a house full of jazz, I first began putting music and images together in daydreams. This love of music transferred directly into my filmmaking practice. Many of my films have been inspired by music and my work often creates its primary emotional resonances in the collision between image and sound rhythms. Lately I've been collaborating more directly with musicians on my soundtracks and in live performances, which lets me pretend I'm part of the band. (Jennifer Reeves)
 
 
Vanishing Points, Dir. Nana Swiczinsky, Austria, 2005, 8 mins 30 secs, 35mm
 
In the beginning was the black ellipse. Nana Swiczinsky presents this form, which she also identifies as the “geometric proto-cell,” as the starting material for her film Points of View (1999). Adventurous distortions and contortions allow a maximum on form effects to appear. Black and white only was her original self-appointed limitation. Vanishing Points takes this “proto-material” and submerges it in a lush universe of color – as though allowing every perspective a decisive expansion through the appropriate psychedelic lens. 
 
The soberness of the basic element is thus countered by the abundant feast of color, rhythm, and form. Swiczinsky has subjected individual sequences of the predecessor film to a radical reworking. However, she does this without using a camera, but instead, by means of repetitive copying, masking, and dying. She approaches the “proto-form” from a wide range of distances and perspectives. The ellipse thus appears extensive one time, is divided in the middle at another point, and appears once as a grid surface, then again in cadres of diverse details: each transformation occurring in minute, fragile steps. The soundtrack, created from the sounds of a copy machine, offers a subtle change of rhythm. The coloring generates from the brashest primary tones, yet at the same time, their layering over one another results in white. This emphasizes the effect of a "bottomless depth," a hallucinogenic engrossment in the phenomenon of additive color mixing. (Christian Höller)
 
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.
  • chronomops, Dir. Tina Frank

  • Colour Flight, Dir. Len Lye

  • Kosmos, Dir. Thorsten Fleisch

  • The Girl's Nervy, Dir. Jennifer Reeves

  • Vanishing Points, Dir. Nana Swiczinsky