Close Up

14 - 16 March 2019: Larry Gottheim and Friends


In 1967, Larry Gottheim started the Cinema Department at Binghamton University which was the first regular undergraduate program that dealt with cinema as a personal art. Considering the theme of nature in art and functions of racial, cultural and personal identity, Gottheim’s practice explores the ways in which time, movement, and becoming are bound up in a complex relation between formal cinematic patterns and pro-filmic subjects. From his late-1960s series of sublime "single-shot" films to the dense sound/image constructs of the mid-1970s and after, his cinema is the cinema of presence, of observation, and of deep conscious engagement.

This programme draws links between Larry Gottheim’s new work Knot/Not and his earliest films. It is composed of works by Larry Gottheim, and films that had a significant impact on Gottheim’s practice. All of these films were made during the early years of the Binghamton Cinema Department, and all were made by his close friends and colleagues. The ultimate aim of the programme is to locate the red thread that connects Larry’s newest work to his oldest.

We’re thrilled to present the UK premiere of Knot/Not, as well as digitally re-mastered versions of Corn and The Red Thread. Larry Gottheim will be in attendance at all screenings to introduce and discuss his work.

Programme 1

Larry Gottheim, 1969, 8’30 min

A bowl of blueberries in milk, changing light radiant on the berries and on the glazed bowl, the ever more radiant orb of milk transforming into glowing light itself, with a brief shadow coda answering the complex play of shadows. The regular pulses of light framing the looser rhythmus of the spoon, itself a frame. A charging of each of the frame's edges with its own particular energy. Within and without, whites and blues, lines and curves. The pulses of vision, the simple natural processes, lift the spirit.

Larry Gottheim, 1970, 11 min

"A fixed camera companion to Fog Line. Bright green leaves stripped from ears of corn, and later, the vibrant yellow ears placed steaming in the waiting bowl. Each of these actions inaugurates a period in which one contemplates an image whose steady transformation is barely perceptible – the delicate slow movement of light and shadow, the evolution of subtle steam into the film grain. A meditation on the fragile moments of corn's passage from living sun-nourished plant to food to light image. The mind attempts to grasp duration itself, to distinguish its own creating from its perceiving, but distinctions blur in the wholeness of times’ and consciousness' flow." – Larry Gottheim

Your Television Traveler
Larry Gottheim, 1991, 18 min

A cosmic voyage into hidden knowledge. "The history of space, the place of mystery, the mystery of trace, the space of history." – Larry Gottheim

Larry Gottheim, 2019, 23 min

UK premiere. Disparate material from all kinds of sources blends into an evocative image with a song by the Catalan artist Eli Ningú

Programme 2

Ken Jacobs, 1964, 12 min, 16mm

"The moving camera shapes the screen image with great purposefulness, using the frame of a window as fulcrum upon which to wheel about the exterior scene. The zoom lens rips, pulling depth planes apart and slapping them together, contracting and expanding in concurrence with camera movements to impart a terrific apparent-motion to the complex of the object-forms pictured on the horizontal-vertical screen, its axis steadied by the audience's sense of gravity. The camera's movements in being transferred to objects tend also to be greatly magnified (instead of the camera the adjacent building turns). About four years of studying the window-complex proceeded the afternoon of actual shooting (a true instance of cinematic action-painting). The film exists as it came out of the camera barring one mechanically necessary mid-reel splice." – Ken Jacobs

All My Life
Bruce Baillie, 1966, 3 min, 16mm

One shot, early summer in Mendocino. Song, All My Life, by Ella Fitzgerald with Tedd Wilson and his orchestra.

Castro Street
Bruce Baillie, 1966, 10 min, 16mm

"Inspired by a lesson from Eric Satie; a film in the form of a street – Castro Street running by the Standard Oil Refinery in Richmond, California... switch engines in one side and refinery tanks, stacks and buildings on the other – the street and film, ending at a red lumber company. All visual and sound elements from the street, progressing from the beginning to the end of the street, one side is black and white (secondary), and one side is colour – like male and female elements. The emergence of a long seitch-engine shot (black and white solo) is to the filmmaker the essential of consciousness." – NY Filmmakers Coop

Unsere Afrikareise
Peter Kubelka, 1966, 13 min

Peter Kubelka's intricately composed, frame-by-frame reaction to the experience of a trip to Africa: "...The difficulty with Unsere Afrikareise was that on the one hand I (didn't want to) lose one possibility of a frame/sound event and on the other I wanted it to be very 'real', to respect the reality of what I had filmed." – Peter Kubelka

Ken Jacobs, 1967, 4 min, 16mm

"Single fixed-camera take looking from within darkened room, (camera within a camera) out through fire-escape door into vertical space between rears of downtown N. Y. loft buildings. A potted plant, fallen sheet of white paper, cat rests on the foreground door-ledge. The flow of the image is interrupted, partially and then wholly dissolving into blackness; the picture remerges, the objects smear, somewhat double, edges break up... and again the serene image scintillatingly looms into view. Focus shifts abruptly between foreground and background planes, creating a strong volume-illusion. The fragile image then shines forth for one last time before dying out." – NY Filmmakers Coop

Soft Rain
Ken Jacobs, 1968, 10 min, 16mm

"Three identical prints of a single 100 ft. fixed-camera take are shown from beginning to end-roll light-flare, with a few feet of blackness preceding/bridging/following the rolls. View from the above is of a partially snow-covered low flat rooftop receding between the brick walls of two much taller downtown N. Y. loft buildings. A slightly tilted rectangular shape left of the centre of the composition is the section of rain-wet Reade Street visible to us over the low rooftop. Distant trucks, cars, persons carrying packages, umbrellas sluggishly pass across this little stage-like area. A fine rain-mist is confused, visually, with the colour emulsion grain. A large black rectangle following up and filing to space above the stage-area is seen as both an unlikely abyss extending in deep space behind the stage or more properly, as a two dimensional plane suspended far forward of the entire snow/rain scene." – Ken Jacobs 

Fog Line
Larry Gottheim, 1970, 10’30 min, 16mm

"Fog Line is a wonderful piece of conceptual art, a stroke along that careful line between wit and wisdom – a melody in which literally every frame is different from every preceding frame (since the fog is always lifting) and the various elements of the composition – trees, animals, vegetation, sky, and, quite importantly, the emulsion, the grain of the film itself – continue to play off one another as do notes in a musical composition. The quality of the light – the tonality of the image itself – adds immeasurably to the mystery and excitement as the work unfolds, the fog lifting, the film running through the gate, the composition static yet the frame itself fluid, dynamic, magnificently kinetic." – Raymond Foery

Larry Gottheim, 1971, 7 min, 16mm

"In 1971 it seemed a formal companion to Doorway, bringing out further possibilities of small movements within the format of a continuous shot. In 1980 something sang to my current concerns, hinted at by drawing this title into that gentle sensual pulling. Something about what is moving between me, us and that out there... what us per-forming." – Larry Gottheim

Interieur Interiors
Vincent Grenier, 1978, 15 min, 16mm

With special assistance of Ann Knutson. "Grenier's great skill is that by means of shifts of focus, by subtly altering light level and shadow, by moving the camera axis, by playing upon grain, contrast and surface texture, he can provoke constant mystery as to what exactly we've just seen, are seeing, will see next." – Simon Field

Larry Gottheim, 1986, 16 min, 16mm

"A mirrored form in counter-movement, dense with emotion-charged memory – a rapidly sparking dynamism of image and afterimage, swirling resonant words/music, juxtaposing loss, my father's stroke, Toscanini, Siodmak's The Killers, the Red Robin Diner... I seem to be quickening." – Larry Gottheim

Hollis Frampton, 1969, 7 min

As a voluptuous lemon is devoured by the same light that reveals it, its image passes from the spatial rhetoric of illusion into the spatial grammar of the graphic arts.

World in Focus
Vincent Grenier, 1976, 16 min

"To look at the objectness of the book is in fact to look at the real thing, something which is contained in what it portends to describe. The film inventories and builds both on a number of camera/book affinities and the ramifications of the resulting deconstruction of the book's "language."" – NY Filmmakers Coop

The Red Thread
Larry Gottheim, 1987, 15'30 min

"Mostly shot in San Francisco and Northern California, material filmed (using the camera almost as a p[r/a]inter, a means of shaping the visual world as film, but without reflection) in response to what that world was opening in me. "Material!" – analogies between weaving and spinning thread and images already a pattern within film history (e. g., in Deren) is here carried into further ramifications of unraveling and patterning in fabric- and cinema-making, as well as in personal and mythic dimensions. The open unfolding structure, which pulls away from the balanced design of much of my work, gives equal weight to the sound composition. Involves "opening" with its perils and ambiguities." – Larry Gottheim

Tabula Rasa
Vincent Grenier, 1993-2004, 8 min

"Revisiting footage he shot in an American high school, Vincent Grenier combines deftly manipulated and layered images with oblique commentaries delivered by students and instructors." – NY Filmmakers Coop

Programme 3

White Heart
Daniel Barnett, 1975, 53 min
Introduced by Larry Gottheim

"Legendary among filmmakers who have witnessed it, White Heart is a symphonic exploration of cinematic meaning that unfolds through a multi-layered, contrapuntal audio-visual montage of numerous and disparate ingredients: images of city streets, verdant forests, and ocean waves; bits of film leader and editor’s marks; oblique footage of Barnett’s colleagues Larry Gottheim and Saul Levine; an interview with two young missionaries; the sounds of classical music, typewriters, video tone, and, most centrally, a brief passage from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. These elements and more emerge and re-emerge like musical motifs, continuously and meticulously altered through processes like bleaching, staining, and multiple print generations, dramatically extracting the formal particularities of the Kodachrome reversal print." – NY Filmmakers Coop

Many thanks to LUX, whose continual support made this programme possible. Similarly, many thanks to Daniel Barnett, Peter Kubelka, and Vincent Grenier for their kindness and generosity.

Programmed by Larry Gottheim and Chris Dymond.