Close Up

7 August 2023: Alex MacKenzie: Experiments for a Single Projector


We’re delighted to welcome Canadian filmmaker Alex MacKenzie for an expanded cinema programme at Close-Up. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the artist moderated by Chris Dymond.

Alex MacKenzie explores the potential of the 16mm film projection apparatus. This suite of expanded and performed works uses the mechanism to its fullest potential; manipulating, modifying and enhancing various aspects of its functionality. Found footage, painted filmstrips and light are transformed with beam interference, bipacked looping, focus, lens and shutter alterations to create radically transformed and dreamlike spaces – epic, immersive, and abstracted. The results shimmer across the screen, uniting “the cosmic with the an ecstatic splendour of light” – Marilyn Brakhage.  

Alex MacKenzie is the unequivocal master of contemporary Canadian expanded cinema: using rare and outdated technology with the deft touch of a visual alchemist, MacKenzie spins his stunning and mesmerizing anti-narratives using the detritus of cinematic history to create a completely unforgettable, and undeniably powerful, alternate vision.” – Antimatter Film Festival  

“MacKenzie is a key player in the revival of expanded cinema forms, having performed an array of super 8 and 16mm projection works over the last twenty-five years. His projects stretch the possibilities of the analogue form, manipulating images to beyond our received expectations.” – Chris Kennedy             

Our Days Are Numbered, 6 min

Black and white leader pulses inside and outside of the projector, snaking across the screen and counting down to its own reappearance.  

Phosphene, 12 min

A single painted film loop in tandem with carefully orchestrated lens interference induces a variation on closed-eye vision and non-light hallucination: a subtly immersive and sublime sculpting of light.  

Mall Emotions,13 min

Two magenta loops from a vintage French film promoting early shopping mall culture are bi-packed and manipulated beyond the lens, creating a dreamlike dimensional space whose shadowed figure tries to find a way out of the delusion of capital. Audio by Clare Kenny  

Inogon Light, 6 min

Inogon lights are shoreside beacons, wherein a moiré effect creates arrows that point towards an imaginary line marking a hazard or line of safe passage; as navigators pass over the line, the arrows on the beacon appear to become vertical bands before changing back to arrows pointing in the reverse direction.  

One in Five, 10 min

A repurposing of the opening moments of an NFB classic addressing poverty in Canada: faces explode, melt, blur and flash; dreams and nightmares unravel, eyes look but can’t see, lives are ruptured.  

Granular Flight, 15 min

A short 16mm found film is radically transformed live using an analogue variation on pixel stretching to build washes of colour and depth in tandem with a kindred technique (granular synthesis) supplying the soundtrack to this new way of seeing. An epic, immersive, and abstracted colour field film performance. Audio by Stephen Wood