Close Up

8 February 2019: Far From Equilibrium + Les Jeunes Filles


Far From Equilibrium
Alain Bedos & Christian Moncel, 1978, 30 min
Introduced by Brunhild Ferrari with David Grubbs

A scientific/educational film with music composed by Luc Ferrari.

"The second law of thermodynamics is not synonymous with disorder. On the contrary, it describes organisation in open systems subjected to inflow and outflow. This is illustrated by chemical reactions that evolve periodically over time, or which create non-uniform distribution of constituents in space.”

Les Jeunes Filles
Luc Ferrari, 1967, 25 min

Luc Ferrari’s directorial debut. In a letter to Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari briefly describes the concept behind his first film:

"….And now, I shall tell you why I agreed to make that film for [Hansjörg] Pauli – [Josef Anton] Riedl probably mentioned to you. Ever since Hétérozygote and the new series which I named "Société", and also since the television programmes I did with Patris, I have been attentive to people’s gestures and words. I have increasingly been interested in observing society; this has gradually drawn my work away from music’s traditional abstraction (even when it is called musique concrète), and it has led me to look for meaning, which I see as a “commitment”.

In that sense, cinema is much more convenient than music, probably because music has not yet found the style and meaning appropriate to its time; because we are living in the 20th century with 19th century concepts. The modern world slips out of our hands like a bar of soap. So, my interest for the cinema comes from the fact that it can convey meanings directly (i.e. without having to go through some hermetic aesthetics). That is the main reason I am attracted to that medium. Of course, one has to learn, I have learned a little with Patris, and I want to learn some more. And that is broadly speaking the reason I am making this film. To learn and to find out whether I am capable of making a film on my own – I have been wondering about that.

Living in Berlin, and being in touch with Pauli, his kindness has drawn me into this project, and my curiosity did too. So what I am making here is very modest, just to see what happens, the subject doesn’t have the pretensions described above. The reason I didn’t mention this to you in Paris is that I wanted to do it first, and then only show the result if it was worth it.

This film bears no relation to music, though there is a kinship with Hétérozygote; it’s about a group of young women I came across in the street, in Hamburg, neither very beautiful nor ugly, just average, having a good time, walking around and talking.

That’s all."

Brunhild Ferrari is a composer and documentarian, she recently edited Luc Ferrari: Complete Works (Ecstatic Peace Library/Omnibus, 2019) – the first English language catalogue of her lifelong partner’s works.

David Grubbs is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. At Brooklyn College he also teaches in the MFA programs in Performance and Interactive MediaArts (PIMA) and Creative Writing. He is the author of Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (Duke University Press).

Part of Stereo Spasms Festival, curated by Ecstatic Peace Library