Close Up

30 August 2017: Peter Hutton's Haikus I


"Hutton's black and white haikus are an exquisite distillation of the cinematic eye. The limitations imposed no color, no sound, no movement (except from a vehicle not directly propelled by the filmmaker), no direct cuts since the images are born and die in black ironically entail an ultimate freedom of the imagination. ... If pleasure can disturb, Hutton's ploys emerge in full focus. These materializing then evaporating images don't ignite, but conjure strains of fleeting panoramas of detached bemusement. More than mere photography, Hutton's contained-with-in-the-frame juxtapositions are filmic explorations of the benign and the tragic …" – Warren Sonbert

Boston Fire
Peter Hutton
1979 | 8 min | B/W | 16mm

"Boston Fire finds grandeur in smoke rising eloquently from a city blaze. Billowing puffs of darkness blend with fountains of water streaming in from offscreen to orchestrate a play of primal elements. The beautiful texture of the smoke coupled with the isolation from the source of the fire erases the destructive impact of the event. The camera, lost in the immense dark clouds, produces images for meditation removed from the causes or consequences of the scene. The tiny firemen, seen as distant silhouettes, gaze in awe, helpless before nature's power." - Millennium Film Journal

New York Portrait, Chapter II
Peter Hutton
1981 | 16 min | B/W | 16mm

Chapter II represents a continuation of daily observations from the environment of Manhattan compiled over a period from 1980-1981. This is the second part of an extended life's portrait of New York.

In Titan’s Goblet
Peter Hutton
1991 | 10 min | B/W | 16mm

In Titan’s Goblet refers to a landscape painting by Thomas Cole circa 1833. The film is intended as an homage to Cole, who is regarded as the father of the Hudson River School of painting. “Like Landscape (for Manon), In Titan’s Goblet depicts, in a series of often-stunning, silent, black and white, discrete images the Catskill Mountain area. In this case, however, a sequence of lovely images of what at first appears to be mist in the mountains is slowly revealed to be a distant fire of rubber tires that had burned out of control. That is, Hutton’s serene, evocative landscapes are, in this instance, qualified by an environmental problem – one that confronts our hunger for imagery of pristine nature.” – Scott MacDonald

Time and Tide
Peter Hutton
2000 | 35 min | Colour | 16mm

The first section of the film is a reprint of a reel shot by Billy Bitzer in 1903 titled Down the Hudson for Biograph. It chronicles in single frame time lapse a section of the river between Newburgh, NY and Yonkers. The second section of the film was shot by filmmaker Peter Hutton (1998-99) and records fragments of several trips up and down the Hudson River between Bayonne, New Jersey and Albany, New York. The filmmaker was traveling on the tugboat "Gotham" as it pushed (up river) and pulled (down river) the Noel Cutler, a barge filled with 35,000 barrels of unleaded gasoline. "In recent years filmmakers as diverse as Abbas Kiarostami, Claire Denis and Stan Brakhage have offered extraordinary films in which landscape and seascape were paramount. It is fitting then, that Hutton, one of the greatest visual poets of the portraiture of place, has just completed his first film in many years - a meditation on the Hudson River. Combining the luminescence and formal contemplation of the Hudson Valley painters with documentary and ecological concerns, Time and Tide extends the panoramic field of Hutton's previous Portrait of a River. And after decades of an exclusive devotion to and mastery of reversal black and white stocks, Time and Tide marks Hutton's inaugural foray into color negative." – Mark McElhatten