Six Minutes

[click on the above image to view a video from iteration 7 of Six Minutes, 20 March 2007.]

During a residency at Performance Space in Sydney, March 2007, Louise Curham and Lucas Ihlein worked on a re-creation of William Raban’s 2’45” (two minutes and forty five seconds), originally performed by Raban in 1973. In this piece, a 16mm projector, not loaded with film, projects white light onto the screen, for the amount of time specified in the title. This was the standard length of a 100ft reel of film. The artist announces the piece from the front of the room, and a film camera next to the projector records the entire event, including the screen, and the audience, and any sounds they might make. The following evening the process is repeated, with the film shot the previous night (which has been rapidly develped) being projected, and so on. Every time the event occurs, the film shown is a record of every previous showing.

We were interested to re-create this piece, which is a kind of filmic equivalent of John Cage’s 4’33” – the sounds and movements and experience of the audience are all vital “ingredients” of the work. However, in 2007, with available contemporary technology (digital video), what sense does it make to re-create this work using 16mm film?

To answer this question, we decided to do both – a film version (hand processed black and white film) and a digital version (mini dv tape).

There was a great bundle of technical and conceptual problems to be tackled in this re-creation, many of which are documented in our progress blog. In time, these notes and the resulting film and video documents will be processed into a document to make a contribution to William Raban’s archive. In the meantime, you can watch the 7th iteration of the work on digital video (which we ran for “six minutes” instead of the original 2’45”) by clicking on the image above. Particularly interesting is the way the sound begins to fold back in on itself, creating a wonderful harmonic resonance akin to Alvin Lucier’s famous musical piece from 1970 I am sitting in a room.

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In 2008, Raban himself re-created the work – this time on 35mm film. The result was now called 4’22”. You can see some documentation of it, here.

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