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17 May 2022: Film Talks Live: Malcolm Le Grice and Chris Welsby


Film Talks Live is a series of events related to the book Film Talks: 15 Conversations on Experimental Cinema, published by Contact. This screening is a programme of mainly very recent films by Malcolm Le Grice and Chris Welsby. Malcolm Le Grice has been a renowned and influential figure in experimental film since the late 1960s. His expansive body of work includes iconic anti-cinematic film performances such as Castle One (1966) and avant-garde classics such as Berlin Horse (1970) through to multi-screen and 3D video works which are highly impressionistic. In the 1970s Chris Welsby developed a unique and innovative film practice focusing on geography and meteorology in tandem with the ethos of "structural" filmmaking. He was also making multi-projection pieces for gallery settings when "artists’ moving image" was in its infancy. In their conversation for Film Talks Le Grice and Welsby discuss conflicting definitions and filmic responses to science, nature and technology. Chris Welsby will be in attendance to discuss his work and ideas that have stemmed from his conversation with Malcom Le Grice.  

Whitchurch Down
Malcolm Le Grice, 1972, 9 min  

In his original synopsis for Whitchurch Down Le Grice stated: "This film is the beginning of an examination of the perceptual and conceptual structures which can be dealt with using pure colour sequences in loop forms with pictorial material. In this case the pictorial material is confined to three landscape locations, and the structure is not mathematically rigorous." One thing missing from that summary is the sensuousness of the film’s colourful and rhythmic articulation of the landscape.  

Windmill III
Chris Welsby, 1974, 10 min  

"Windmill III is one of a series of films which uses an element present within the frame as a feedback device to control an aspect of the recording process. In this case it is the wind moving the leaves on the trees within the frame which also causes the windmill to rotate like a secondary shutter in front of the camera. The rotation of the mirrored windmill blades causes the image on the screen to alternate between the space in front of the camera, seen intermittently through the blades, and the space behind the camera, reflected in the blades." – Chris Welsby

Dark Trees
Malcolm Le Grice, 2019, 9 min

Dark Trees starts with a view from a window in silhouette through which one sees a garden, tall trees, rooftops and the sea. This scene orientates the viewer, but we are quickly taken into an imaginary space offered by the trees, shot against a late evening sky. A floating camera and the dense superimposition of shots make for a scene that is now untethered. Towards the end we see the sun set over the sea; confirmation of the lyrical strain in much of Le Grice’s cinema.  

White Out
Chris Welsby, 2021, 6 min

"White Out was recorded and edited one cold morning in February 2021. It’s about how light looks when it’s falling on snow and how snow can make white light visible even in the darkness of winter. I used a recording of white noise to replace the sound of snow falling. I was thinking about what it feels like to look at snow falling." – Chris Welsby  

Malcolm Le Grice, 2021, 9 min

The travelogue footage that appears here – the landscape rushing by, fragments of cityscapes, figures in cafes, forests, and beaches – is reminiscent of other videos made by Le Grice since the 1990s. The sense of foreboding is unique though. It comes across in the colours of the superimposed imagery: principally cold blues, a furnace-like orange and acid tones. The sound is similarly evocative. One might hear it as a rushing waterfall, a storm, or perhaps the sound of nuclear fallout as suggested by the title. The sublime, which Le Grice has often courted in his video work, is an apocalyptic variant in Strontium.

Chris Welsby, 2021 12 min

"In this video, the shutter and aperture of the camera mimic the action of the leaves of a maple tree on a bright and blustery day in autumn. On the screen, shafts of sunlight appear and disappear as the breeze tugs at the ragged edges of leaves. The camera exposure system responds to these changes by shifting focus within the image. Meanwhile we are reminded perhaps of the less visible process by which the leaves convert this light into oxygen. One large tree can provide a supply of oxygen for as many as four people in one day. Angelica Castello’s remarkable composition for the video combines human voice, birdsong and electronic sound in a subtle and delicately nuanced evocation of the natural world as a powerful reminder of the transitory nature of all living things." – Chris Welsby