Line Describing a Cone in 2015

line describing a cone in kandos - photo by alex wisser

[Anthony McCall’s “Line Describing a Cone”, presented by Teaching and Learning Cinema in Kandos in April 2015, as part of CEMENTA festival. Photo by Alex Wisser]

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Louise Curham and I first “met” Anthony McCall’s Line Describing a Cone in 2005, when we took it on an Australian tour to Kellerberrin, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

For me, that tour was characterised by great anxiety and great joy:

anxiety sparked by a technical mishap at our first scheduled screening in Kellerberrin (a tiny town 3 hours drive from Perth) which left us with a blown bulb, a derelict cinema full of artificial haze, and an assembled group of quizzical sheep-n-wheat farmers who I’d cajoled into coming along to see this amazing piece of 1970s avant-garde cinema;

…and joy arising from every subsequent presentation of Line Describing a Cone, which never failed to delight those in attendance.

Ten years later, we’re in the process of presenting our second “tour” of the Cone. We brought the 16mm print out from LUX in London to show at the CEMENTA festival in Kandos (about 4 hours inland from Sydney). Perhaps this was to some extent an effort to exorcise the demons of that failed Kellerberrin screening. Both Kandos and Kellerberrin are small towns a long way from any sort of projector spare parts; both places are unfamiliar with the experience of expanded cinema.
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Horror Film sketch No. 1

By 450pm today we had a rough sketch of the work running in the space. We relied heavily on the audio recordings of our conversations with Malcolm last year for this (audio file 2). Still lots to do – key is finding zoom lenses for the projectors. We also hope to try a lapel mic for the breath track.

Numerous small hurdles encountered on the way today – not least battery terminal issues on the 1985 Toyota Corolla and of course friends help us out – Danny (Wild) and Jess loaned us not just a projector but also a car.

Achievements: 3 x 16mm projectors running in roughly the correct alignment with breath track on mono speaker. This allowed us to both pace through the c. 30 metres from wall to projectors in the main gallery at CCAS.

Tasks carried out today: looked at the loops, projectors running the loops, projection frame sizes and height. We had a cursory look at the breath track.
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Horror Film 1 – Re-enactment in Progress at CCAS, Canberra

oliver thomas practicing horror film1
Oliver Thomas practicing Horror Film 1 at CCAS

Between 23-28 June, the Teaching and Learning Cinema (Louise Curham and Lucas Ihlein) is in residence at Canberra Contemporary Artspace.

We’re continuing on with the research we began last year in the UK, towards a re-enactment of Malcolm Le Grice’s Horror Film 1 (1971).

We’re not sure how far along we’ll get this week, but on Saturday June 28, at 3pm, we’ll be presenting a work-in-progress showing of this piece.

There’ll be cups of tea, and discussion about re-enactment of performance and expanded cinema, and the particular projects we’ve done in this area.

It’s free and all are welcome. The gallery is nicely heated, thank goodness.

As a bonus, we’ve got all our Super 8 gear with us, so we’ll be presenting a performance of (Wo)man with Mirror – our re-enactment of Guy Sherwin’s Man with Mirror (1976-now), and we’ll have some of our (Wo)man with Mirror Users Manuals to hand out too.

Here’s the event on Facebook, in case you lean that way.

Canberra screening 5 October 2013

Photo Chemical Games for blog

‘Photochemical Games’ is a film screening of works by Australian film artists at Belconnen Arts Centre on Saturday 5 October, 6-730pm.

Film is dead! This pronouncement rears its head so frequently that for those who still like making images from chemicals reacting to light, it’s nothing to be alarmed by. Like the claims about one of its analogue cousins, the book, film looks set to continue to occupy a dusty but cosy corner, celebrated and loved by its acolytes. Continue reading “Canberra screening 5 October 2013”

Hollow in the Paper

hollow in the paper invitation

Teaching and Learning Cinema is contributing to this exhibition in Hobart.

At the invitation of curator Bec Stevens, we’ve sent an installation based on our work with the project (Wo)man with Mirror (2009-) – our re-enactment of Guy Sherwin’s Man with Mirror (1976-).

We’ve enjoyed our discussions with Bec, in the lead up to this show. We’d not thought about this work in relation to the idea of the ‘infra-slim’ before, even though it has strong resonance with what we’re doing.

Here’s more info about the show, which will be at CAST, Hobart, from 13 July-18 August 2013.

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Hollow in the Paper* was initiated through readings of two intertwined notions proposed separately by Duchamp. The initial text included the succinct idea of a transformer to utilise slight, wasted energies – with these mostly bodily energies being, for example, “sneezes and sighs” or “the movements of fear, astonishment, boredom and anger”.

And the second notion being the infra-slim, infra-thin or infra-mince. A term chosen for its “human, affective connotations….not an exact laboratory measure”. A somewhat slippery and elusive term which amongst many manifestations is suggested as a “conductor’ that eases the natural and infinite passage from one dimension to another”.

At a similar point in history, when these ideas were conceived, Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Institute was investigating Orgone energy as an anti-entropic, cumulative and omnipresent force, exploring an alternative idea of how we perceive and direct energy. Georges Bataille also published The Accursed Share, where his theory of a general economy gave particular emphasis on understanding the portion of excess energy that is inherent within any system of production and exchange.

The works within this exhibition reflect on the process of becoming: on transductions of states of energy; and of processes of perception and ‘flexible subjectivities’. Amanda Davies, Fiona Lee and Maria Kunda, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, Pat Brassington and the Teaching and Learning Cinema, present paintings, prints, performance, Orgone altering devices, and heightened states of consciousness as a means of exploring various states of the infra-slim.

* “The hollow in the paper between the front and the back of a thin sheet of paper….To be studied!…” appears in Duchamp’s descriptions of the infra-slim

Lucas Ihlein: Mediating Experience in Expanded Cinema Re-enactment

The following is a contribution to ISEA 2013 – presented as part of this panel session.

The panel, organised by Brogan Bunt, was set up to address the broad notion of mediation – and to respond to his assertion that “artists themselves, in their practices, have begun to move fluidly between paradigms.”

“How,” Brogan asks, “does the experience of digital processes inflect work produced in the broader social field? How are issues of concept, process, event, participation and interaction remediated through intimate experience of digital media?”

I’ve attempted to answer these questions, in my rather folksy way, by thinking about the work that Louise Curham and I do as Teaching and Learning Cinema.

If you like, the text may be accompanied by a slideshow of images from our work in re-enacting expanded cinema:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bilateral/sets/72157634073279851/show

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After meeting Malcolm – top of mind

Notes in response to specific questions have been started by Lucas and we will continue them but it seems important to capture what’s stayed at the top of the mind after visiting Malcolm:
– we covered a lot of ground!
– Malcolm says that when he made these performance film works (eg Horror Film, Gross Fog, Matrix, 4 Wall Duration), his orientation was cinema rather than live art as we now think of it (eg performance art, happenings), the dialogue/position was with/against screen and film culture. This is true for his film works of this era too.
– in a conversation about the context for making his work around the time of Horror Film, Malcolm made the point that at the time and in the whole era, experimentation in media other than film drew upon long lineages. He used the example of music where things have seemed strange and new to makers and audiences many times before. As a young form, cinema didn’t have this lineage and so things really could be new in this form, energising and exhilarating in its newness, difficult in the lack of context and language for audiences.
– Malcolm advises that the first performance of Horror Film 1 (1971) was at Arts Lab – an interesting question because we found nothing about it in the files we have consulted to date at BAFVSC about Malcolm, Filmaktion and London Filmmakers Coop 1966-74.
– White Field Duration is effectively a scratch film where transparent leader is slowly marked with vertical scratches until it is evident they are intentional. Then horizontal scratches emerge. In the end the two fields of scratches seem to be rain over a body of water. The image is then reprinted in neg/pos. The sound is created by the image which runs into the optical sound track space. We understand from Lux that as Malcolm told us, there is just one print of this and no neg.

MLG Questions 01: Breath

When we started thinking about re-enacting Malcolm Le Grice’s Horror Film 1 a year ago, several questions popped up straight away.

These were mainly technical issues about the source material for the three colour projections, and how the audio is produced while the piece is being performed. Some of these questions were answered by Malcolm here – but it’s only now that we’ve spent several days hanging out with him that we begin to understand these answers.

Bit by bit, I’m going to flesh out some of the answers based on notes that Louise and I made while we were in Devon…

THE BREATHING SOUNDTRACK:

Our instinct was that the amplified breathing which provides the sonic undertone of the work would be produced live – a live feed from a lapel microphone, for example. This would seem to fit with the live-ness of the projected shadows produced by the body in front of the three projectors, and could operate as a kind of index of the performer’s own physiological state (calmness, exhaustion etc) during the performance.
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