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Two frames from a 16mm film with blocks of red, green, pink and yellow

Film Programme 1: Charlemagne Palestine

Film Programme 1: Charlemagne Palestine

This programme is a celebration of Charlemagne Palestine; passionate, extravagant, visceral. Featuring the UK premiere of two sections from his recent piece Ritual dans le Vide, an extension of his ‘running camera’ works of the 70’s (of which ‘I’m Tying Myself Up to Keep Myself From Falling Apart’ is a one) and Pip Chodorov’s vibrant workout of a live version of Strumming Music.

Throughout the 1970s, Charlemagne Palestine produced a seminal body of performance-based, psychodramatic videotapes in which he activates a ritualistic use of physicality, motion and sound to achieve an outward articulation of internal states. Intensely personal and often violently charged, these phenomenological exercises are characterized by a visceral enactment of physical and psychological catharses. Performing in isolation with a hand-held, moving camera, Palestine taps the body as a conduit for the self. The very titles of his pieces – Internal Tantrum (1975), Running Outburst (1975) -suggest literal and metaphorical catalysts for release or escape from confinement.

Movement and sound, as they relate to the body and the voice, are the vehicles through which Palestine expels internal energy. Ritualistic vocal expressions – hypnotic chants, trance-inducing tones – become physical translations of anguish and pain, as does the use of the video as an extension of the body. Running frenetically with the camera or strapping it to a moving motorcycle, Palestine uses motion as metaphor. Challenging identity and perception, he positions the viewer behind the camera, in a subjective point of view. Seeing through his eyes, moving with his body, the viewer is both participant and voyeur.

In his work in performance, music, video and related media since the late 1960s, Palestine uses certain emblematic objects, including teddy bears and scarves, as signatures – what he terms “symbols of identification.” (Electronic Arts Intermix)

Ritual dans le Vide 2, Dir. Charlemagne Palestine, Belgium, 2001, 11 mins 24 secs, DVD

Ritual dans le Vide 3, Dir. Charlemagne Palestine, Belgium, 2001, 19 mins 18 secs, DVD

the industrial revolution: progess:thenfinitochuiso:the emptiness:the nothingness:a ritual song:

oingdoingdingbingboing:aprayerfortheemptiness afternientebastacosibeepbeepgo fuckyourself!!aprayer!!! (Charlemagne Palestine)

I’m Tying Myself Up to Keep Myself From Falling Apart, Dir. Charlemagne Palestine, USA, 1975, 5 mins, VHS


boobooboo!!! (Charlemagne Palestine)

Charlemagne 2: Piltzer, Dir. Pip Chodorov, France, 2002, 22 mins, 16mm

Music: Charlemagne Palestine

On December 9, 1998, Charlemagne asked me to bring friends to his piano concert at an opening at the Gérard Piltzer gallery in Paris, and to bring a movie camera. I forgot about the rolls of film and left them undeveloped for a year and a half. When I found them and processed them as negative, I was surprised with the results and I blew them up onto 16mm positive high-contrast stock. I then contact printed the positive 16mm to negative 16mm and optically printed frame by frame through these positive and negative master rolls onto color negative stock through colored filters, following a precise notation of the concert music. I chose the following principles:

– The 6945 notes played in the concert correspond to 6923 frames of super-8 film that were shot. No frames are left out or printed twice.

– Speed of playing controls speed of frame succession.

– Discordant diminished fifths are translated into the following methods of visual discordance for the seven parts of the concert in an attempt to replicate in the visual cortex the harmonic overtones that arise in the temporal lobe when listening:

• Flicker between negative and positive,

• between opposites on color wheel (blue/yellow),

• between opposites in retinal cone sensitivities (red/green),

• between different flicker frequencies (frequencies beating in discordance);

• clusters of b/w negative and monochrome frames to create overtonal retinal afterimages,

• left/right screen masking and mirror image printing,

• crossfading between negative and positive images.

– When more than two notes are played, the additional colors correspond to the complexity of sound frequencies.

The final result is at once a diary film, a document of the concert, a structural flicker film, a hand-processed film, a graphic representation of music, and an attempt to apply cognitive principles in sensation and perception to film art. (Pip Chodorov)