1. the films/videos of chris welsby.
included in the amazing new bfi release of 8 films by chris welsby.
a great new dvd of the work of the british film-maker chris welsby. welsby in many ways comes out of the tradition of "structuralist" (p. adams sitney) film-makers and his work is related to artists like leighton pierce, jj murphy, marc lapore, andrew noren, peter hutton, rose lowder, michael snow, ernie gehr, hollis frampton, daniel barnett, larry gottheim, ken jacobs, malcolm le grice, thomas koner, mary lucier, jürgen reble, andy warhol, fred worden, tony conrad, paul sharits, joyce weiland and others.
"in my work the mechanics of film and video interact with the landscape in such a way that elemental processes - such as changes in light, the rise and fall of the tide or changes in wind direction - are given the space and time to participate in the process of representation. the resulting sequences of images make it possible to envisage a relationship between technology and nature based on principals other than exploitation and domination." chris welsby
because welsby makes "weather films" (as he calls them), they follow one of the structuralist film tendencies of being without people. however people end up creeping into the films in startling ways, like a jogger in wind vane, or the shadow of the cameraman in seven days. these events (like the ones in michael snow's wavelength and back and forth) give the work a sort of abstract narrative, that has no explanation, but still evokes some sort of plot.
films, videos and installations:
-tree studies, 2006
-trees in winter, 2006
-changing light, 2004
-at sea, 2003
-tide line (contained), 2002
-tide line, 2000
-lost lake, 1998
-sea pictures, 1992
-sky light, 1988
-shore line II, 1979
-wind vane III, 1978
-cloud fragments, 1978
-shore line, 1977
-stream line, 1976
-wind vane, II, 1975
-colour separation, 1975
-windmill III, 1974
-seven days, 1974
-fforest bay, 1973
-running film, 1973
-windmill II, 1973
-park film, 1972-73
-winter and summer, 1972-73
-river yar (with willian raban), 1972
-wind vane, 1972
-the garden in the machine: a field guide to independent films about place, by scott macdonald, univ. of california press
-landscape, natural beauty, and the arts, cambridge university press (with an essay by p. adams sitney)
-experimental film and video anthology, indiana university press (with an essay by chris welsby)
-chris welsby - films/photographs/writings, arts council of great britain
-abstract film and beyond, by malcolm le grice, studio vista
-afterimage 1976 (with st. george in the forest: the english avant-garde, by deke dusinberre)
-millennium film journal fall/winter 1986–1987
more info here and here.
2. also noteworthy is the release of the spirit of the beehive by victor erice, 1973.
one can also view this film as coming from the same tradition as the list above, and adding such directors as jacques tati, jean-pierre melville, robert bresson, chantal ackerman, andrei tarkovsky, bela tarr, otar ioselliani, michelangelo antonioni, ingmar bergman and others. these films share an interest in formal elements (among other things). one sees this in erice's use of muted colors, long takes, formal camera movements (like the shot of the character teresa bringing her mail to the train, not unlike the opening shot of tarr's satantango), stark landscape photography and abstracted sound.
other formal elements like the structure of a film within a film relate to the great novels of cervantes, borges, eco, etc. that use the book within a book.
the visual language of erice's film makes reference to the great dutch painters like johannes vermeer (image below) (mentioned in the footprints of a spirit a documentary on victor erice), rembrandt and peter de hooch, and also the netherlandish painters jan van eyck, petrus christus, and hans memling. the visual style and palletes of these painters is very apparent in this film, especially erice's photography of interiors. in fact much renaissance painting can be seen in this film, in the near monochromatic work and muted tones of antonello da messina (image below), titian, piero della francesca, and leonardo da vinci. many paintings are in fact seen in the film, one treated in a similiar way that tarkovsky did in solaris and andrei rublev. it makes sense that his other great film the dream of light / quince tree of the sun from 1992, deals with the painter antonio lópez garcía.
-la morte rouge, 2006
-the dream of light / quince tree of the sun, 1992
-el sur, 1983
-the spirit of the beehive, 1973
-the cinema of victor erice: an open window, by linda ehrlich, the scarecrow press
other items equally interesting and not unrelated:
3. powell & pressburger's the 49th parallel
always one of my favourite of their films (including also the red shoes, i know where i'm going, and black narcissus).
"a compelling piece of anti-isolationist propaganda and a quick-witted wartime thriller".
this film seems proof that a minor work is sometimes more interesting than a "perfect" work.
4. cherry beach project, silo 11.
a new "night-ocean drone" from mystery sea.
cherry beach project is a canadian duo (joda clement and nigel craig). recorded in a silo in an abandoned peninsula in toronto.
5. matt shoemaker, spots on the sun.
limited edition disc from the helen scarsdale agency, packaged in corroded brass done by jim haynes, not unlike the oxidation paintings of andy warhol.
"shoemaker works in monochrome, shaping his gray tonalities into rhizomes of shadow which occasionally erupt in brilliance of hyper-realized clarity. while the familiar sounds of encircling birds, turbulent weather, and temple bells litter shoemaker's recordings, the sonic topography describes a vulgar and hostile landscape where fits of delirium and circadian arrhythmia are common human responses. shoemaker achieves these complex metaphors through labyrinthine drones spiralling through irradiated fog and glassine vibrations, punctured by the scars of a landscape in perpetual revolt" helen scarsdale
6. richard chartier, current.
3" fan disc from room40.
a work that is on the threshold in perceptibility, yet lush and sonic.
"on current, his latest work to be released in conjunction with his performances in australia and japan in late 2006, chartier offers a multilayered sound field. shimmering high tones filter amid a clouded layer of dense audio mist – across the 20 minutes, he creates a potent journey through crisp yet warm sound textures, metered pulses and spacious stereo field.
the piece is thematically linked to the idea of travel by airplane - the disassociation of time and location – air currents above and the oceanic currents below." room40