Frans Zwartjes’ Spectator depicts seeing and its relation to cinema as an act of erotic voyeurism. While the McGurk effect established vision as the dominant sense over hearing, and Hollis Frampton’s Nostalgia examined the relation between sound and visuals, Spectator is about the very nature of cinematic observation and its sexuality—the film image as an object of […]
In 87.4%* of the multiple choice questions concerning the definitions of one of the following: experimental cinema; avant-garde cinema; experimental film; experimental short film; or avantgarde film, the answer is one of the following: none of the following; none of the above; none of the listed below; (or in rarer cases) neither.
Perhaps it is easier to define experimental movies in a structuralist way, using binary oppositions and negation. Experimental films are not the kind of films that follow the pop structures of verse-chorus-verse and first-second-third act. It would be inaccurate to say that, for example, Mothlight by Stan Brakhage has a “plot” or a “narrative.” There is no director’s cut version of an experimental film because studios are not interested in exerting control over something which is by (elusive) definition marginal, underground, and unpopular.
Avant-garde films are in a way their own Macguffin–just like the lemon in Hollis Frampton’s Lemon.
Or maybe Stan Brakhage’s Metaphors On Vision and its quest for a new language of seeing explains it better. In essence, experimental films, and especially Brakhage’s, are this new method of visual expression: a kind of weird creole, a language of the poets that neglects the grammar rules due to its predilection for alternative and distinctive methods of symbolic expression.
*All statistics provided by the Sophisticated Statistics Society. For more info and a pie chart representation of the available data,
Guy Sherwin’s Man With A Mirror is a unique hybrid of film and performance art, a cross-genre experimental piece which defies categorizations. The artwork consists of a filmed part of a man with a mirror in a park, and a live-action part of the same man (Guy Sherwin himself) with a similar mirror. The images […]
Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight is an experimental testament to the broad interpretation of “anything” in Holis Frampton’s quote, “It seems that a film is anything that may be put in a projector that will modulate the emerging beam of light.” For Mothlight, Brakhage used dead moths, flowers, and glass in order to create an entirely camera-less […]
Despite his distinguishable cinematic style, experimental filmmaker Thorsten Fleisch doesn’t feel like he created his films. That doesn’t apply to all of my films, but most of them I really do feel that I didn’t create them, as they rely on processes that reflect a certain technique that I later refined […] in directions that […]
Metaphors on Vision, published in 1963 by Stan Brakhage, establishes the ground for his film theory, and serves as a sort of guide for understanding the boldness of his cinema. Brakhage’s film experiments not only disobey the conventions of cinema, but also seek to create a new, purer film language. In Metaphors on Vision, he […]
While Lemon and Poetic Justice focused on visuals, Hollis Frampton’s Critical Mass employs both film sound and images and examines their relationship–an approach Frampton also used for (nostalgia). Unlike (nostalgia), however, which is entirely based on the asynchrony between hearing and vision, in Critical Mass sound provides the basic framework. Although the McGurck effect suggests vision is the dominant sense over hearing, Hollis […]
Yayoi Kusama’s Self-Obliteration is a 1967 experimental film. If boxing paint onto canvas defines the work of fellow Japanese artist Ushio Shinohara’s, Yayoi Kusama’s art leitmotif is the polka dot. The artist uses polka dots to cover and conceal people, animals, the environment, and everything around. It is a metaphor of giving up identity, abolishing […]
There muscular are responses several from ways the of simplest shaping reflex the to edges the of most a refined glass and aluminum complex surface… Paul Sharits’ Word Movie Are you a little bit confused by Paul Sharits’ Word Movie? The experimental Fluxus film is a creative illustration of Robert Bresson’s claim “An image must be […]
In 1969, the same year Hollis Frampton made Lemon, the experimental director also released Carrots and Peas, a short film that shares obvious similarities with the more popular Lemon. Both films playfully examine the nature of cinema, but unlike the silent Lemon, Carrots and Peas deals with the relationship between cinema sound and image, a […]
Bartek Konopka’s Rabbit á la Berlin (Mauerhase) is a tongue-in-cheek allegory on post-WW2 in Germany. The 40-minute short blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction (just like Stories We Tell and Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?)—it is unrealistically serious and blatantly sarcastic at the same time. In this aspect, the movie reminds of […]
Jake Houston Harris is an Australian filmmaker whose short film Three Poems is an experimental narrative “with elements of fantasy and surrealism.” The movie is a 3-part visionary poem that examines universal themes and showcases Australia’s outlandish shores. It won the Audience Award at the Reel Good Film Festival in Melbourne on April 13th, and will screen at […]
Nine years before Hollis Frampton’s Nostalgia and Poetic Justice used still images to examine the question of cinema temporality, Chris Marker composed La Jetee (1962) almost entirely of still shots. Both films share the themes of time, memory, and perception, but unlike Nostalgia which abandons narrative in favor of structure, La Jetee tells an elaborate science […]
George Brecht was one of the leading artists in the experimental Fluxus movement, which sought to overturn the limits of art. In his short experimental film Entrance to Exit (1965), the elements of film become the main topic of the film. It is a clever self-reference somewhat similar to Disney’s Get a Horse! where the […]
The Fluxus art movement was somewhat overshadowed by abstract expressionism and pop art, which seemed to be the more popular movements in the second part of the 20th century. The unifying characteristic of Fluxus is its focus on art’s medium and form, rather than content, narrative, or structure. Just like in Cinematics, which tries to […]
Thirteen animated shorts will screen at the South by Southwest Film Festival 2014. From Brazil to Australia and New Zealand, the SXSW list of animated shorts blurs geographic and art borders, blending computer-generated animation with stop motion, live action, and hand-drawn films. This is the full list of all animated shorts with trailers. Scroll down […]
Disney’s Get a Horse! was one of the nominees for the Best Animated Short Oscar, but it lost to Mr Hublot. The 3D short directed by Lauren MacMullen features Mickey and Mini Mouse in a mixed media of hand-drawn black-and-while animation blended with computer-generated color 3D animation. Get a Horse! is not only a true […]
Today guitarist John Frusciante turns 44. Frusciante, born in New York in 1970, is most well-known as an ex-member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but his obscure solo career and film projects showcase his talent as an avant-garde artist. Frusciante used to be good friends with actor River Phoenix, and the two even recorded […]
Drew Christie’s Allergy to Originality is a 5-minute animated short film that screened at Sundance 2014. The hand-drawn film examines the nature of creativity and invention with a postmodern attitude that refutes the possibility of originality or creation of any idea or work. Instead, the film favors the multiple-discovery theory which recognizes an infinite number […]
Hollis Frampton’s Poetic Justice (1972) is a provocative self-reference to the medium of film, word–image relationship, representation, and imagination. The film consists of the chronological filming of a screenplay —a series of individual static shots with a single camera framing. The “cinematography,” if it can be called such, is minimalist and intentionally detached from the […]
Hollis Frampton’s Nostalgia, officially stylized as (nostalgia) (both are used interchangeably here), is a playful examination of sound and vision, past and future, memory and temporality, perception and imagination. The movie consists of static shots of photographs burning on a stove with a voice-over narration explaining the photographs. The artistic “tension” of the movie is […]
Hollis Frampton’s Lemon (1969) examines the nature of vision, illusion, spatiality, and film. Unlike Frampton’s Nostalgia, Lemon is silent. It is a minimalist movie, in which a single static shot of a lemon continually changing in appearance as the light on screen changes. The film is thematically similar to Frampton’s Poetic Justice, which also examines […]
Michael Snow’s Wavelength is one of the cult experimental movies that transcend definitions. The 45-minute film consists of a static and gradual zoom-in shot inside of a studio loft, with the camera fixed at one side of the loft, and finishing with the close-up of a photograph hanging on the wall on the opposite side […]