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24 June 2016: Indefinite Visions Part I


In conjunction with the Whitechapel Gallery, this two-day event curated by filmmaker and theorist Richard Misek and film scholar Allan Cameron brings together academics, filmmakers and artists to explore the indefinite and the illegible in film – from artists’ film and video to experimental film and commercial cinema. Each programme includes a variety of screenings on 35mm, 16mm, and digital, bringing together recent examples of indefinite vision in experimental film.

Light, motion, definition, compression: the conditions of recording, storing and screening moving image works are subject to constant variations that pull them away from perfect visibility. Filmmakers and artists often seek out and work with the resulting visual uncertainty, from the warping of space to the melding of senses; speed to slowness; darkness to glare; and blur to glitch.

Indefinite Visions explores the possibility that an important function of moving image is not to show but to obscure, and that – like the photographer in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up – the closer and deeper we look at an image, the less clear it becomes.

Takashi Makino and David Rodowick will be present at the screening to introduce their films, and will be in conversation earlier in the day at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Notes on Blindness
James Spinney, Peter Middleton
2016 | 87 min | Colour | DCP
Followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers

Filmmakers James Spinney and Peter Middleton set out to accomplish a seemingly impossible task – visually capturing the internal essence of blindness. Their entry point is writer and theologian John Hull, who, between 1983 and 1986, kept a series of audio diaries that documented his experience after losing his eyesight. Oliver Sacks described the work as "the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece." Using Hull’s remarkable insights and unsentimental articulations about going blind, Spinney and Middleton craft a film of breathtaking vision and innovation.

Painstakingly recreating Hull’s life during the early 1980s, Notes on Blindness re-imagines both the realities of his deteriorating condition as well as his more ephemeral and abstract feelings about his life, as it slipped into a new, altered state of being. The result is a powerful ode to the beauty of words and the imagination, where surreal landscapes and elegantly detailed reenactments blend into a visceral, surreal, one-of-a-kind viewing experience.

Cinéma Concret
Takashi Makino
2015 | 23 min | Colour | DCP
Introduced by the filmmaker

Japanese filmmaker Makino Takashi’s abstract cinema pushes the perimeters of screen depth through extremely layered superimposition from which shadow presences emerge. Building his juxtapositions on the principles of musique concrète, Makino’s latest film considers the limits of control in its exploration of memories and thoughts that slip in and out of our grasp. Accompanied by Machinefabriek’s blistering soundtrack, the film encourages us to bring our own dreamscape into the experience of the film.

Fifteen Minutes to Inverness
David Rodowick
2013 | 15 min | Digital
Introduced by the filmmaker

15 Minutes to Inverness explores the limits of digital capture by setting up a series of formal parameters and then letting them play themselves out (almost) automatically in relation to randomizing elements. The capture rate is set at one frame per second, though sound is recorded in real time. Focus, exposure, and effective shutter speed are allowed to float and respond eccentrically to changing light levels, focal distances, and color temperatures in ways that produce a free play between figuration and abstraction. However, despite the abstract, painterly, and conceptual character of these images, the work is meant to be understood as a document responding to specific landscapes, situations, movements, trajectories, and durations.

Primary Expansion
Johan Rijpman
2012 | 1 min | Colour | Digital

Primary colored dots are expanding into tiny complex structures as a reaction to increasing pressure. When different colors overlap, new colors emerge that consist of two or more primary layers and therefore expand in different ways. The process continues to produce rich structures and compositions from small imperfections and the mixing of colors until the pressure gets too high.

Ernie Gehr
2001 | 37 min | Colour | Digital

A rarely seen gem by American structuralist filmmaker Ernie Gehr, best known for the landmark structuralist film Serene Velocity. Glider is a beautiful, hypnotic work that seems to float in a waking dream above a curving topography of sea and shore. Shot entirely within a camera obscura, Gehr harnesses the panoptic and oneiric powers of the precinematic device to create a profoundly fascinating and sensuous work.

Total duration ca. 200 min with an interval

The event is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. An edited anthology entitled Indefinite Visions (eds. Martine Beugnet, Allan Cameron and Arild Fetveit) will be published by Edinburgh University Press in late 2016.

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