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Visionary film: circa '67

Marvo Movie, Jeff Keen

Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes
5 September 2007 | 7pm
Telephone: 01908 558307

no.w.here present an evening of films to coincide with 'Circa '67', Milton Keynes Gallery's current exhibition of painting and sculpture which marks the 40th anniversary of the town.

By 1967 the worldwide avant-garde film community was in dialogue, and the envelope of cinema was being expanded in new directions. Often rejecting narrative as an adequate way of relating to the idea of film, many of these artists turned their attention to the medium itself, investigating its inherent properties, and its physical and psychological affects on the senses.

This screening will feature key films by UK artists Malcolm Le Grice Jeff Keen and Peter Gidal, and will also take a wider look at the highly infuencial work of their European and American peers such as Kurt Kren, Paul Sharits and Carolee Schneemann.

Kurt Kren’s 15/67: TV activates the screen through reflexive and systematic repetitions of a gaze through a window. In Room (Double Take), Peter Gidal begin his rigourous interrogatations into the formalist aspect of film. Marvo Movie is a rapid collage of images by UK pop art originator Jeff Keen. And in Carolee Schneeman’s Fuses, sequences of intimate lovemaking between the artist and her partner are energised by painting directly onto the film-strip.

The evening will conclude with two double-screen works that expand the confines of the screen: In Yes No Maybe Maybe Not, Malcolm Le Grice meditates on the shifting tones and textures of water and smoke; and in Razor Blades, Paul Sharits bombards the senses with contradictory and hypnotic image streams.


15/67: TV
Kurt Kren, Austria, 1967, 4mins
In TV, the system is different in kind and pace from that which exists in much of his other work. Instead of operating primarily at the kinetic level, or with rapid perceptual rhythm, this film involves the audience in a conceptual and reflexive process. Five short sequences, each about eight frames long, are all shot from the same viewpoint in a quay-side cafe. They show a window, broken by the silhouettes of objects and people within the cafe and by the passage of people and a ship outside. Each shot containing some small movement is repeated in the film 21 times, in mathematically determined order. They are separated by short, equal sequences of black spacing, except that longer black sequences separate larger phrases of repeats from each other rather like punctuation. The significance does not lie in the mathematical sequences as such, but in how the viewer attempts to decipher the structure. – Malcolm Le Grice

Room (Double Take)
Peter Gidal, UK, 1967, 10mins
His most familiar subject – his own domestic space – first appeared in Room – Double Take. A portrait of his student bed-sit in London, more transparently so than in later studies, but already with the restless, searching camera that would become distinctively his, and the whole film is repeated in its entirety, introducing another familiar trope. – David Curtis

Marvo Movie
Jeff Keen, UK, 1967, 5mins
Keen is indebted to the surrealist tradition for many of his central concerns: his passion for instability, his sense of 'le merveilleux', his fondness for analogies and puns, his preference for 'lowbrow' art over aestheticism of any kind, his dedication to collage and 'le hasard objectif'. But this 'continental' facet of his work – virtually unique in this country – co-exists with various typically English characteristics, which betray other roots. The tacky glamour/True Beauty of his Family Star productions is at least as close to the end of Brighton Pier as it is to Hollywood B-Movies. – Tony Rayns

Carolee Schneemann, US, 1964-7, 25mins
...I wanted to see if the experience of what I saw would have any correspondence to what I felt – the intimacy of the lovemaking... And I wanted to put into that materiality of film the energies of the body, so that the film itself dissolves and recombines and is transparent and dense – as one feels during lovemaking... It is different from any pornographic work that you've ever seen – that's why people are still looking at it! And there's no objectification or fetishization of the woman. – Carolee Schneemann

Yes No Maybe Maybe Not
Malcolm Le Grice, UK, 1967, 8mins, double screen
This is a film, which like Little Dog For Roger, makes its experience through specific cutting devices in the printing and processing technique. The images which are used certainly have been chosen for meanings and qualities they imply. But the impact of the film comes through the way in which they are transformed in the printing - mainly involving certain kinds of positive-negative superimposition. There is no thematic or narrative aspect to this film...it is almost entirely a present visual-movement experience.

Razor Blades
Paul Sharits, US, 1967, 25mins, double screen
How refreshing, how relaxing, coming at the end of a generally dull program, Razor Blades really lit up the inside of my head...the banquet of images was especially pleasing & tranquil from the first row where I sat. I very much dug your treatment of the sound, and as for pictures - well that is a much longer communique than this! Some of the word experiments (& letters) were especially informative to me, as I have had some very long-term thoughts about word image intercutting relationships. Also notable to me were the lovely circle animations at head and tail...well, with such ideas buzzing in my head, & in the mild after-euphoria of a beautiful (& indeed) IMAGE show, I felt the urgency and perhaps your receptivity to my sending of these impressions. – Tony Conrad


Light Reading:Early and recent work by Peter Gidal



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