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Shoot Shoot Shoot Broadsheet Newspaper (2002)

Shoot Shoot Shoot Broadsheet Newspaper (2002)



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Published by LUX
Broadsheet newspaper programme notes for 'SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative & British Avant-Garde Film 1966-76' film exhibition curated by Mark Webber for LUX in 2002. Includes essay by AL Rees and information on films by Malcolm Le Grice, William Raban, Lis Rhodes, Chris Welsby, John Smith, Anthony McCall, Annabel Nicolson amongst others.
Broadsheet newspaper programme notes for 'SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative & British Avant-Garde Film 1966-76' film exhibition curated by Mark Webber for LUX in 2002. Includes essay by AL Rees and information on films by Malcolm Le Grice, William Raban, Lis Rhodes, Chris Welsby, John Smith, Anthony McCall, Annabel Nicolson amongst others.

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Published by: LUX on Jul 28, 2009
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A GUIDE TO THE FILMS IN THEEXHIBITION“What follows is a set of instructions,necessarily incomplete, for the construc-tion, necessarily impossible, of a mosaic.Each instruction must lead to the screen,the tomb and temple in which the mosaicgrows. The instructions are fractured butnot frivolous. They are no more thanclues to the films which lust for freedomand re-illumination with, by and of thecinema. What follows is not truth, onlyevidence. The explanation is in the pro- jection and the perception.”Simon Hartog, 1968“It is often difficult for a venue organis-er/programmer to determine from writtendescription what an individual or groupof film-makers work is ‘about’, fromwhere it comes, to what or whom it isaddressing itself. Equally, it is difficultfor a film-maker to provide such informa-tion from within the pages of a cataloguewhen for many, including myself, theentire project or the area into which one’swork energy is concentrated, is intent onclarifying these kind of questions. Thefilms outside of such a situation becomemore or less dead objects, the residue(though hopefully a determined residue)of such an all-embracing pursuit.”Mike Leggett, 1980“The most important thing still is to letoneself get into the film one is watching,to stop fighting it, to stop feeling the needto object during the process of experi-ence, or rather, to object, fight it, butovercome each moment again, to keepletting oneself overcome one’s difficul-ties, to then slide into it (one can alwaysdemolish the experience afterwards any-way, so what’s the hurry?).”Peter Gidal, c.1970-71* * *
British filmmakers led a drive beyond thescreen and the theatre, and their innova-tions in expanded cinema inevitably tookthe work into galleries. After questioningthe role of the spectator, they began toexamine the light beam, its volume andpresence in the room.In a step towards later complex projectionpieces, for
Castle One
, Malcolm Le Gricehung a light bulb in front of the screen. Itsintermittent flashing bleaches out theimage, illuminates the audience and laysbare the conditions of the traditionalscreening arrangement.
Take Measure
, by William Raban, visual-ly measures a dimension of the space asthe filmstrip is physically stretchedbetween projector and screen. To make
, he directly filmed into the pro- jector gate and presents the same flicker-ing footage in dialogue across threescreens in an oblique formation.Gill Eatherley literally painted in lightover extremely long exposures to shoot
 Hand Grenade
, which runs three differ-ent edits of the material side-by-side.
 Light Music
developed into a series of enquiries into the nature of optical sound-tracks and their direct relation to theabstract image. The film can be shown indifferent configurations, with projectorsside-by-side or facing into each other.Anthony McCall succinctly demonstratesthe sculptural potential of film as a singleray of light, incidentally tracing a circleon the screen, is perceived as a conicalline emanating from the projector. Thebeam is given physical volume in theroom by use of theatrical smoke, or anyother agent (such as dust) that wouldthicken the air to make it more apparent.More than just a film,
 Line Describing aCone
affirms cinema as a collectivesocial experience.Malcolm Le Grice, Castle One, 1966,b/w, sound, 20mWilliam Raban, Take Measure, 1973,colour, silent, (X)mWilliam Raban, Diagonal, 1973, colour,sound, 6mGill Eatherley, Hand Grenade, 1971,colour, sound, 8mLis Rhodes, Light Music, 1975-77, b/w,sound, 20mAnthony McCall, Line Describing ACone, 1973, b/w, silent, 30m(Total running time approximately 93m)
“The light bulb was a Brechtian device tomake the spectator aware of himself. Idon’t like to think of an audience in themass, but of the individual observer andhis behaviour. What he goes throughwhile he watches is what the film isabout. I’m interested in the way the indi-vidual constructs variety from his percep-tual intake.”Malcolm Le Grice, Films andFilming, February 1971“… totally Kafkaesque, but also filmical-ly completely different from anyone elsebecause of the
. The Americansare always talking about ‘rawness’, butit’s never raw. When the English talkabout ‘raw’, they don’t just talk about it,it really
raw – it’s grey, it’s rainy, it’sgrainy, you can hardly see what’s there.The material really
there at the sametime as the image. With the Germans, it’sa high-class
of material, opticallyreproduced and glossy. The Americansare half-way there, but the English stuff looked like it really was home-made, arti-sanal, and yet amazingly structured. AndI certainly thought
Castle One
was themost powerful film I’d seen, ever…”Peter Gidal, interview with MarkWebber, 2001“Malcolm said to me “Ideally in this filmthere should be a real light bulb hangingnext to the screen, but that’s not possi-ble.” And I said “It’s not possible to hanga light bulb?” He said “Well, I don’t seehow we could possibly do this.” I said“Well the only question is how do we turnit on and off at the right moments? … Areyou able to do that as a live perform-ance?” He looked at me like the worldwas going to end! And I said “The switchwill be there.””Jack Moore, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
“The thing that strikes me going into acinema, because it is such a strange spaceand it’s organized to allow you to getenveloped by the whole illusion of film,when you try and think of it in terms of real dimensions it becomes very difficult.The idea of a sixty foot throw or a hun-dred foot throw from the projector to thescreen just doesn’t enter into the equa-tion. So I thought the idea of making apiece that made that distance between theprojector and the screen more tangiblewas quite an interesting thing to do.”William Raban, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
Take Measure
is usually the shortest of my films, measuring in feet that intangi-ble space separating screen from projec-tor box (which is counted on the screenby the image of a film synchronizer).Instead of being fed into the projectorfrom a reel, the film is strung betweenprojector and screen. When the filmstarts, the film snakes backwards throughthe audience as it is consumed by the pro- jector.”William Raban, Perspectives onBritish Avant-Garde Film catalogue,1977
is a film for three projectors,though the diagonally arranged projectorbeams need not be contained within asingle flat screen area. This film workswell in a conventional film theatre whenthe top left screen spills over the ceilingand the bottom right projects down overthe audience. It is the same image on allthree projectors, a double-exposed flick-ering rectangle of the projector gate slid-ing diagonally into and out of frame.Focus is on the projector shutter, hencethe flicker. This film is ‘about’the projec-tor gate, the plane where the film frame iscaught by the projected light beam.”William Raban, Perspectives onBritish Avant-Garde Film catalogue,1977“The first great excitement is finding theidea, making its acquaintance, and court-ing it through the elaborate ritual of filmproduction. The second excitement is themoment of projection when the filmbecomes real and can be shared with theaudience. The former enjoyment isunique and privileged; the second is not,and so long as the film exists, it is infi-nitely repeatable.”William Raban, Arts Council Film-Makers on Tour catalogue, 1980
“Although the word ‘expanded’cinemahas also been used for the open/gallerysize/multi screen presentation of film,this ‘expansion(could still but) has notyet proved satisfactory – for my ownwork anyway. Whether you are dealingwith a single postcard size screen or sixten-foot screens, the problems are basi-cally the same – to try to establish a morepositively dialectical relationship withthe audience. I am concerned (like manyothers) with this balance between theaudience and the film – and the noeticproblems involved.”Gill Eatherley, 2nd InternationalAvant-Garde Film Festival programmenotes, 1973“Malcolm Le Grice helped me with
 Hand Grenade
. First of all I did these stills, thechairs traced with light. And then I want-ed it to all move, to be in motion, so westarted to use 16mm. We shot only a hun-dred feet on black and white. It took ages,actually, because it’s frame by frame. Weshot it in pitch dark, and then we took itto the Co-op and spent ages printing it allout on the printer there. This is how I firstgot involved with the Co-op.”Gill Eatherley, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
“Lis Rhodes has conducted a thoroughinvestigation into the relationshipbetween the shapes and rhythms of linesand their tonality when printed as sound.Her work
 Light Music
is in a series of ‘moveable sections’. The film does nothave a rigid pattern of sequences, and thefinal length is variable, within one-hourduration. The imagery is restricted tolines of horizontal bars across the screen:there is variety in the spacing (frequen-cy), their thickness (amplitude), and theircolour and density (tone). One sectionwas filmed from a video monitor that pro-duced line patterns on the screen that var-ied according to sound signals generatedby an oscillator; so initially it is the soundwhich produces the image. Taking thisfilmed material to the printing stage, thesame lines that produced the picture areprinted onto the optical soundtrack edgeof the film: the picture thus produces thesound. Other material was shot from arostrum camera filming black and whitegrids, and here again at the printing stage,the picture is printed onto the film sound-track. Sometimes the picture ‘zooms’inon the grid, so that you actually ‘hear’thezoom, or more precisely, you hear anaural equivalent to the screen image. Thisequivalence cannot be perfect, becausethe soundtrack reproduces the frame linesthat you don’t see, and the film passes ateven speed over the projector sound scan-ner, but intermittently through the picturegate. Lis Rhodes avoids rigid scoring pro-cedures for scripting her films. This workmay be experienced (and was perhapsconceived) as having a musical form, butthe process of composition depends onvarious chance operations, and upon theintervention of the filmmaker upon thefilm and film machinery. This is consis-tent with the presentation where the filmdoes not crystallize into one finishedform. This is a strong work, possessinginfinite variety within a tightly controlledframework.”William Raban, Perspectives onBritish Avant-Garde Film catalogue,1977“The film is not complete as a totality; itcould well be different and still achieveits purpose of exploring the possibilitiesof optical sound. It is as much aboutsound as it is about image; their relation-ship is necessarily dependent as the opti-cal soundtrack ‘makes’the music. It is themachinery itself which imposes this rela-tionship. The image throughout is com-posed of straight lines. It need not havebeen.”Lis Rhodes, A Perspective on EnglishAvant-Garde Film catalogue, 1978
“Once I started really working with filmand feeling I was making films, makingworks of media, it seemed to me a com-pletely natural thing to come back andback and back, to come more away froma pro-filmic event and into the process of filmmaking itself. And at the time it allboiled down to some very simple ques-tions. In my case, and perhaps in others,the question being something like “Whatwould a film be if it was only a film?”Carolee Schneemann and I sailed on theSS Canberra from Southampton to NewYork in January 1973, and when weembarked, all I had was that question.When I disembarked I already had theplan for
 Line Describing a Cone
fully-fledged in my notebook. You could say itwas a mid-Atlantic film! It’s been thestory of my life ever since, of course,where I’m located, where my interestsare, that business of “Am I English or amI American?” So that was when I con-ceived
 Line Describing a Cone
and then Imade it in the months that followed.”Anthony McCall, interview withMark Webber, 2001“One important strategy of expanded cin-ema radically alters the spatial discrete-ness of the audience vis-à-vis the screenand the projector by manipulating theprojection facilities in a manner whichelevates their role to that of the perform-ance itself, subordinating or eliminatingthe role of the artist as performer. Thefilms of Anthony McCall are the bestillustration of this tendency. In
 Line Describing a Cone
, the conventional pri-macy of the screen is completely aban-doned in favour of the primacy of the pro- jection event. According to McCall, ascreen is not even mandatory: The audi-ence is expected to move up and down, inand out of the beam – this film cannot befully experienced by a stationary specta-tor. This means that the film demands amulti-perspectival viewing situation, asopposed to the single-image/single-per-spective format of conventional films orthe multi-image/single-perspective for-mat of much expanded cinema. The shiftof image as a function of shift of per-spective is the operative principle of thefilm. External content is eliminated, andthe entire film consists of the controlledline of light emanating from the projec-tor; the act of appreciating the film – i.e.,‘the process of its realisation’– is thecontent.”Deke Dusinberre, “On ExpandingCinema”, Studio International,November/December 1975* * *
Widening the visual field increased theopportunity for both spectacle and con-templation. With two 16mm projectorsside-by-side, time could be frozen orfractured in a more complex way by play-ing one image against another and creat-ing a magical space between them. Eachscreening became a unique event, accen-tuating the temporality of the cinematicexperience.
 River Yar
is a monumental study of land-scape, nature, light and the passage of time. It employs real time and time-lapsephotography to document and contrastthe view of a tidal estuary over two three-week periods, in spring and autumn. Thefilm stimulates cosmic awareness as eachday is seen to have its elemental events.Sunrise brings in the light and sunset pro-vides the ultimate fade-out.The use of different film stocks, and thedepiction of twins seen in a twin-screenformat, emphasises the fractured andslightly disorientating view from SallyPotter’s window in
.David Parsonsrefilming of a stunt cardemonstration pulses between frames,analytically transforming the motion intoa visceral mid-air dance.
Wind Vane
was shot simultaneously bytwo cameras whose view was directed bythe wind. The gentle panning makes ussubtly aware of the physical space (dis-tance) between the adjacent frames.With a rock music soundtrack,
,suggests pop art in its treatment of Piccadilly Circus at night. Multiplyexposed and treated images mirror eachother or travel across the two screens.
Castle Two
immediately throws the view-er into a state of discomfort as one tries toassess the situation, and then proceeds along, obscure and perplexing indoctrina-tion. “Is that coming through out there?”William Raban & Chris Welsby, RiverYar, 1971-72, colour, sound, 35mSally Potter, Play, 1971, b/w & colour,silent, 7mDavid Parsons, Mechanical Ballet, 1975,b/w, silent, 8mChris Welsby, Wind Vane, 1972, colour,sound, 8mDavid Crosswaite, Choke, 1971, b/w &colour, sound, 5mMalcolm Le Grice, Castle Two, 1968,b/w, sound, 32m(Total running time approximately 97m)
“The camera points south. The landscapeis an isolated frame of space – a wide-angle view of a tidal estuary, recordedduring Autumn and Spring. The cameraholds a fixed viewpoint and marks time atthe rate of one frame every minute (dayand night) for three weeks. The twosequences Autumn and Spring, are pre-sented symmetrically on adjacentscreens. The first Spring sunrise isrecorded in real time (24 fps) for 14 min-utes, establishing a comparative scale of speed for the Autumn screen, where com-plete days are passing in one minute.Then both screens run together in stop-action until the Autumn screen breaksinto a 14 minute period of real time forthe final sunset into darkness. Recordingswere made of landscape sound at specificintervals each day. Each screen has itsown soundtrack which mixes with theother in the space of the cinema.”William Raban & Chris Welsby, NFTEnglish Independent Cinema programmenotes, 1972“Chris found the location.which was anex-water mill in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, owned by the sons of the historianA.J.P. Taylor. We managed to get it for anastonishing rent of £5 a week. One of itsupstairs windows happened to look overthis river estuary, it was the kind of viewwe were looking for, so it was ideal inmany ways. We’d worked out the concep-tual model for the film, how we wanted itto look as a two-screen piece, more orless entirely in advance. We also knewwhat camera we wanted. There was real-ly only the Bolex camera that would besuitable for filming it on. I made an elec-tric motor for firing the time-lapse shotsthat was capable of giving time exposuresas well as instantaneous exposures.Unknown to us of course, the first periodof shooting coincided with the big coalminers’strike, in the Ted Heath govern-ment, so the motor was redundant formost of the time; we had to shoot the filmby hand. And it was quite interestingbecause we weren’t just making
, we were down there for six weeks inthe autumn and three weeks again the fol-lowing spring, so we were also makingother work. I was doing a series of treeprints in a wood nearby. And we invitedpeople down to share the experience withus, so Malcolm, Annabel and Gill allcame to stay.”William Raban, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
, Potter filmed six children –actually, three pairs of twins – as theyplay on a sidewalk, using two camerasmounted so that they recorded two con-tiguous spaces of the sidewalk. When
is screened, two projectors presentthe two images side by side, recreatingthe original sidewalk space, but, of course, with the interruption of the rightframe line of the left image and the leftframe line of the right image – that is, sothat the sidewalk space is divided intotwo filmic spaces. The cinematic divisionof the original space is emphasized by thefact that the left image was filmed incolor, the right image in black and white.Indeed, the division is so obvious thatwhen the children suddenly move fromone space to the other, ‘through’theframe lines, their originally continuousmovement is transformed into cinematicmagic.”Scott MacDonald, A Critical Cinema3, 1998
“To be frank, I always felt like a loner, an out-sider. I never felt part of a community of film-makers. I was often the only female, or one of few, which didn’t help. I didn’t have a buddything going, which most of the men did. Theyalso had rather different concerns, more hard-edged structural concerns … I was probablymore eclectic in my taste than many of theEnglish structural filmmakers, who took anabsolute prescriptive position on film. Most of them had gone to Oxford or Cambridge orsome other university and were terribly theoret-ical. I left school at fifteen. I was more thehand-on artist and less the academic. The over-riding memory of those early years is of mak-ing things on the kitchen table by myself…”Sally Potter interviewed by ScottMacDonald, A Critical Cinema 3, 1998
“… I began to forge ideas that explored themaking of the work and the procedure of eventsand ideas unfolding in space and time.Inevitably, this led to the consideration of thefilmmaking apparatus as an integral elementwithin the construction of the film. Taken liter-ally of course, this applies to the making of anyfilm, but I am referring to processes that do notattempt to hide the means of production andmake the technique transparent, rather the veryopposite. There are many parallels in other cre-ative fields: the improvisational aspects of modern jazz, and Exercises in Style by thewonderful French writer Raymond Queneau.These examples spring to mind as backgroundinfluences upon what I see now as an essential-ly modernist project, in that I was attempting toassert the material aspects of making, over whatwas depicted. So, to turn to the camera toattempt exhaust all the possibilities of its lens-es, the film transportation mechanism, the shiftof the turret, hand holding or tripods mounting,as conditioning factors within the films becamethe challenge. The project broadened out withseemingly endless possibilities offered by thefilm printer, the projector, and the screen.”David Parsons, “Picture Planes”,Filmwaves No. 2, November 1997“Several areas of interest intersect in the mak-ing of 
 Mechanical Ballet 
: an interest in ‘found’footage (relating to collage, assemblage), themanipulation of the film strip and the filmframe, time and duration, projection and thescreen, and the film printing process, to high-light some of the main concerns. In the early’70s I began a series of experiments with waysof refilming and improvising new constructionswith different combinations of frames. Thusnew forms emerged from the found materialthat I had selected to use as my base material.In one work I extended the closing moments of the tail footage of a film, consisting of less thana second of flared out frames, stretching it intotwo minutes forty five seconds, 100 foot of film. In another I used some early documenta-tion of time and motion studies of factoryworkers performing repetitive tasks on machin-ery. A speedometer mounted in the corner of the frame monitored the progress of theiractions in relation to the time it took to performtheir tasks. I found the content both disturbingand absurd and sought to exemplify this byexaggerating the action and ‘stalling’the moni-toring process by racking the film back andforth through the gate. The original materialthat formed the basis for
 Mechanical Ballet 
wasan anonymous short reel of film of whatappeared to be car crash tests. In the originalthese tests are carried out in a deadpan andsomewhat cumbersome manner. Reworked intoa two-screen film and divorced from their orig-inal context they take on both a sinister andhumorous quality. Using similar techniques tothe aforementioned films, the repetitive refilm-ing of the original footage in short sectionsemphasised the process of film projection.Somewhat like a child’s game of two steps for-ward and one back, the viewer is made aware of the staggered progress of the film through thegate. In sharp contrast to the almost strobo-scopic flicker of the rapid movement of theframes that alternate in small increments of light and dark exposures, the image takes onnew meanings; the distorted reality of twoheavy objects (the cars, one on each of thescreens) ‘dancing’lightly in space.”David Parsons, 2002
The London Film-Makers’Co-operativewas founded in 1966 and based upon theartist-led distribution centre created byJonas Mekas and the New AmericanCinema Group. Both had a policy of openmembership, accepting all submissionswithout judgement, but the LFMC wasunique in incorporating the three keyaspects of artist filmmaking: production,distribution and exhibition within a singlefacility.Early pioneers like Len Lye, AntonyBalch, Margaret Tait and John Lathamhad already made remarkable personalfilms in England, but by the mid-60sinterest in “underground” film was grow-ing. On his arrival from New York,Stephen Dwoskin demonstrated andencouraged the possibilities of experi-mental filmmaking and the Coop soonbecame a dynamic centre for the discus-sion, production and presentation of avant-garde film. Several key figures suchas Peter Gidal, Malcolm Le Grice, JohnSmith and Chris Welsby went ontobecome internationally celebrated. Manyothers, like Annabel Nicolson and thefiercely autonomous and prolific Jeff Keen, worked across the boundariesbetween film and performance andremain relatively unknown, or at leastunseen.The Co-op asserted the significance of the British films in line with internationaldevelopments, whilst surviving hand-to-mouth in a series of run down buildings.The physical hardship of the organisa-tion’s struggle contributed to the rigor-ous, formal nature of films produced dur-ing this period. While the Structuralapproach dominated, informing both theinterior and landscape tendencies, theBritish filmmakers also made significantinnovations with multi-screen films andexpanded cinema events, producingworks whose essence was defined bytheir ephemerality. Many of the worksfell into the netherworld between filmand fine art, never really seeming at homein either cinema or gallery spaces.Shoot Shoot Shoot, a major retrospectiveprogramme and research project, willbring these extraordinary works back tolife.Curated by Mark Webberwith assistance from Gregory Kurcewiczand Ben Cook.Shoot Shoot Shoot is a LUX project.Funded by the Arts Council of EnglandNational Touring Programme, the BritishCouncil, bfi and the Esmée FairbairnFoundation.
Anthony McCall, Line Describing A ConeMalcolm Le Grice, Castle TwoDavid Crosswaite, Choke
“At that time, the automatic gyros on sail-boats were run from a wind vane that wasattached through a series of mechanicaldevices to the rudder. The wind vaneactually set itself to the wind and youadjusted all the gear and that then steeredthe boat in the particular orientation tothe wind. On various sailing trips, I’dbeen looking at this thing thinking,“Hmm, that’s really interesting … I won-der if I could set a camera on somethinglike that?” Because, for me the idea of asailboat travelling from A to B was aninteresting sort of metaphor for the waythat people interacted with nature. In sail-ing, as you may know if you’ve done it,you can’t just go from A to B, you have toadjust everything to which way the tide isgoing, which way the wind’s going andso on and so forth. Hopefully, eventually,you would get to B but, really, in betweentime there would have been all sorts of other events that would affect that: speedof tides, speed of wind, no wind, etc. Sothat seemed to me to be an interestingmetaphor, so then I started building windvanes and attaching cameras to them…”Chris Welsby, interview with MarkWebber, 2001“The spatial exigencies of twin-screenprojection become of primary importancein this film because the adjacency of thescreen images is related to the adjacencyof the filming technique: two cameraswere placed about 50 feet apart on tripodswhich included wind vane attachments,so that the wind direction and speeddetermined the direction and speed of thepans of the two freely panning cameras.The landscape images are more or lesscoincident, and the attempt by the specta-tor to visually conjoin the two spaces(already conjoined on the screen) sets upthe primary tension of this film. As thecameras pan, one expects an overlap
the screens (from one to another)but gets only overlap
the screens (whenthey point to the same object). The adja-cency of the two spaces is constantlyshifting from (almost) complete similari-ty of field to complete dissimilarity. Andwithin the dissimilarity of space can bemore or less contiguous. The shrewdchoice of a representational image whichexploits the twin-screen format isWelsby’s strength.”Deke Dusinberre, “On ExpandingCinema”, Studio International,November/December 1975
was made from 8mm footage thatI had blown up to 16mm. It was colourfilm I took of the Coca-Cola sign inPiccadilly Circus, which is now vastlydifferent. I think that it was the fact thatthis expanded film thing was happening,and Malcolm would’ve said, “Well, aren’t
going to make any double screenfilms, then?” and I said “Can do, yeah”! I just had this idea of using this image thatI had, and again started painstakinglysello-taping little cuttings onto film so ittracked across the screen in certain parts.I must have been an absolute glutton forpunishment at the time.”David Crosswaite, interview withMark Webber, 2001“… But nevertheless you get characterslike Crosswaite, whose films I findabsolutely magical, I think they’re themost seminal works of the whole Co-opperiod. He certainly didn’t engage in thearguments that were going on, he stoodaloof from it. In fact he would the erodeattempts of that hierarchical thing, hispresence eroded it. He never reallyengaged in the theoretical arguments, thepolemics, at all, but nevertheless he pro-duced the most seminal, the most beauti-ful work probably of the period. He cer-tainly wasn’t excluded, and he wasalways there to deflate this idea of exclu-sivity. He refuses to engage. He would just say, “Here’s my film” … and yet theyare beautifully polemical, they’re justextraordinary pieces or work.Roger Hammond, interview withMark Webber, 2001
“This film continues the theme of themilitary/industrial complex and its psy-chological impact upon the individualthat I began with
Castle One
. Like
, much use is made of newsreel mon-tage, although with entirely differentmaterial. The film is more evidently the-matic, but still relies on formal devices –building up to a fast barrage of images(the two screens further split – to give 4separate images at once for onesequence). The images repeat themselvesin different sequential relationships andcertain key images emerge both in thesoundtrack and the visual. The alienationof the viewer’s involvement does notoccur as often in this film as in
, but the concern with the viewer’sexperience of his present location stilldetermines the structure of certain pas-sages in the film.”Malcolm Le Grice, London Film-Makers’Co-operative catalogue, 1968“Le Grice’s work induces the observer toparticipate by making him reflect critical-ly not only on the formal properties of film but also on the complex ways inwhich he perceives that film within thelimitations of the environment of its pro- jection and the limitations created by hisown past experience. A useful formula-tion of how this sort of feedback occurs iscontained in the notion of ‘perceptualthresholds’. Briefly, a perceptual thresh-old is demarcation point between what isconsciously and what is pre-consciouslyperceived. The threshold at which one isable to become conscious of externalstimuli is a variable that depends on thespeed with which the information isbeing projected, the emotional charge itcontains and the general context withinwhich that information is presented. Thisexplains Le Grice’s continuing use of devices such as subliminal flicker and thelooped repetition of sequences in a stag-gered series of changing relationships.”John Du Cane, Time Out, 1977* * *
As equipment became available for littlecost, avant-garde film flourished in mid-60s counter-culture. Early screenings atBetter Books and the Arts Lab provided avital focus for a new movement thatinfused Swinging London with a freshsubversive edge.Made independently on 35mm, in collab-oration with William Burroughs,
TowersOpen Fire
is rarely considered in histo-ries of avant-garde film, despite its exper-iments in form and representation. Itcombines strobe cutting, flicker, degrad-ed imagery and hand-painted film to cre-ate a visual equivalent to the author’s nar-ration.
Gloucester Road Groove
, featuringSimon Hartog and David Larcher, is aspirited celebration of youthful exuber-ance, the excitement of shooting with amovie camera.Jeff Keen’s vision is a uniquely Britishpost-war accumulation of art history,comic books, old Hollywood and newcollage. Positioned between happeningsand music hall, he performs dada actionsin the “theatre of the brain”.
 Marvo Movie
is just one of countless works thatmix live action with animation, but isnotable for its concrete sound by Co-opco-founder Bob Cobbing.
, with hypnotic flashing discs andrelentless noise track, anticipated manyof the anti-illusionist arguments that theCo-op later embodied. The film wasmade in 1962, but its advanced radicalnature made it largely unknown until laterscreenings at Better Books broughtLatham into contact with like-mindedcontemporaries.In
, Dwoskin accentuates the dirtand scratches on the film’s surface whileinterrogating the erotic imagery throughrefilming.The systematic cutting of Stuart Pound’sfilm, and its cyclical soundtrack, derivesfrom a mathematical process that con-denses a feature length work (
Clocktime I-IV 
) into a short ‘trailer’.
Soul in a White Room
is a subtle piece of social commentary by Simon Hartog, anearly Co-op activist with a strong politi-cal conscience.Peter Gidal questions illusory depth andrepresentation through focal length, edit-ing and (seeming) repetition in
 Reign of the Vampire
, from Le Grice’sparanoiac
 How to Screw the C.I.A., or How to Screw the C.I.A.
? series, takes thehard line in subversion. Familiar “threat-ening” signifiers, pornography andfootage from his other films is overlaidwith travelling mattes, united with a loopsoundtrack, to form a relentless assault.Antony Balch, Towers Open Fire, 1963,b/w, sound, 16mJonathan Langran, Gloucester RoadGroove, 1968, b/w, silent, 2mJeff Keen, Marvo Movie, 1967, colour,sound, 5mJohn Latham, Speak, 1962, colour,sound, 11mStephen Dwoskin, Dirty, 1965-67, b/w,sound, 10mStuart Pound, Clocktime Trailer, 1972,colour, sound, 7mSimon Hartog, Soul In A White Room,1968, colour, sound, 3.5mPeter Gidal, Hall, 1968-69, b/w, sound,10mMalcolm Le Grice, Reign Of TheVampire, 1970, b/w, sound, 11m(Total running time approximately 75m)
Towers Open Fire
is a straight-forwardattempt to find a cinematic equivalent forWilliam Burroughs’writing: a collage of all the key themes and situations in thebooks, accompanied by a Burroughssoundtrack narration. Society crumblesas the Stock Exchange crashes, membersof the Board are raygun-zapped in theirown boardroom, and a commando in theorgasm attack leaps through a windowand decimates a family photo collec-tion… Meanwhile, the liberated individ-ual acts: Balch himself masturbates (“sil-ver arrow through the night…”),Burroughs as the junkie (his long-stand-ing metaphor for the capitalist supply-and-demand situation) breaks on throughto the hallucinatory world of Brion GysinDream Machines. Balch lets us stare intothe Dream Machines, finding faces tomatch our own. “Anything that can bedone chemically can be done by othermeans.” So the film is implicitly a chal-lenge to its audience. But we’re playingwith indefinables that we don’t reallyunderstand yet, and so Mikey Portman’smusic-hall finale is interrupted by sci-ence-fiction attack from the skies, as lostboardroom reports drift through the coun-tryside…”Tony Rayns, “Interview with AntonyBalch”, Cinema Rising No.1, April 1972“Installations shattered – Personnel deci-mated – Board Books destroyed –Electronic waves of resistance sweepingthrough mind screens of the earth – Themessage of Total Resistance on shortwave of the world –
This is war to exter-mination – Shift linguals – Cut word lines – Vibrate tourists – Free doorways – Photo falling – Word falling – Break through in grey room – Calling Partisansof all nations – Towers, open fire”
William Burroughs, Nova Express,1964
“A film for children and savages, easilyunderstood, non didactic fantasies. Urbanlandscapes…Strolling single frames.”Jonathan Langran, London Film-Makers’Co-operative distribution cata-logue, 1977“I felt really high with all these peoplearound. I was kind of a provincial filmstudent and the youngest of everyone andthere were fashion photographers, DavidLarcher who was very glamorous, therewas Simon Hartog who was kind of intel-lectual … all sorts of people, wonderfulwomen that would come around, friends,and I was always in awe of them and weused to go out to restaurants and that wasall a very big thing for me. So oneevening we went to Dino’s in GloucesterRoad and I took the camera. I think I’dbeen using it all day, I just liked camerasand I filmed us going to eat, and we cameback again, and I still kept filming!Gloucester Road was kind of cosmopoli-tan, late at night… it was exotic, veryexotic, it wasn’t your dour kind of thingshot at 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock, GloucesterRoad was buzzing.”Jonathan Langran, interview withMark Webber, 2002
“Movie wizard initiates shatterbrainexperiment – Eeeow! – the fastest moviefilm alive – at 24 or 16fps even the mindtrembles – splice up sequence 2 – flixunlimited, and inside yr very head theimages explode – last years models newhouses & such terrific death scenes whilethe time and space operator attacks thebrain via the optic nerve – will the opera-tion succeed – will the white saint reachin time the staircase now alive with blood – only time will tell says the movie mas-ter – meanwhile deep inside the spacemuseum…”Ray Durgnat, London Film-Makers’Co-operative distribution catalogue, 1968“I was never part of the early 70s sceneamong the independent filmmakers –very much anti-American, anti-Hollywood. ‘Industrial Cinema’theyused to call it, which is true, but I neverfelt that antipathy towards commercialcinema. It was awful being a fucking mis-fit, I can tell you. I’d done my footsol-diering for the communist party andeverything in those days – factory gatesand all that shit, “ban the bomb”… So bythe time of 1970, I’d got out of that. Asfor sexual liberation, I’d been happilymarried! And the drug scene didn’t meananything to me because I’m puritanical.I’m a misfit.”Jeff Keen, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
“Latham’s second attack on the cinema.Not since Len Lye’s films in the thirtieshas England produced such a brilliantexample of animated abstraction.
is animated in time rather than space. It isan exploration in the possibilities of a cir-cle which speaks in colour with blindingvolume. Speak burns its way directly intothe brain. It is one of the few films aboutwhich it can truly be said, “it will live inyour mind.””Ray Durgnat, London Film-Makers’Co-operative distribution catalogue, 1968“In 1966 Pink Floyd were playing theirfree-form, experimental rock at theTalbot Road Tabernacle (a church hall),Powis Square, Notting Hill Gate. On sev-eral occasions, Latham projected his film
as the group played. Since the filmhad a powerful flicker effect, the resultwas equivalent to strobe lighting. Filmand music ran in parallel – there was noplanned synchronization. Thinking tocombine movie and music more system-atically, Latham asked Pink Floyd to sup-ply a soundtrack. The band agreed and arecording session took place. The artistexplained that he wanted music thatwould take account of the strong, rhyth-mical pulse of the film. This the acid rockgroup proved unable or unwilling to pro-vide; consequently, the association wasterminated. A soundtrack was eventuallyadded to one print of 
: Lathamplaced a contact mike on the floor to pickup the beat of a motor (rhythm) driving acircular saw (musical note) while it wasbeing used to saw up books (percussionand bending note). The film reaches atremendous climax as the increasinglyharsh whine of the electric saw combineswith the frenetic sequence of images andflashes of light.”John A. Walker, John Latham – TheIncidental Person – His Art and Ideas,1995
is remarkable for its sensuousness,created partly by the use of rephotogra-phy which enables the filmmaker a sec-ond stage of response to the two girls hewas filming, partly by the caressing styleof camera movement and partly by thegradual increase of dirt on the film itself,increasing the tactile connotations gener-ated by rephotography. The spontaneityof Dwoskin’s response to the girls’sensu-al play is matched by the spontaneity of his response to the film of their play. Therhythms of the girls’movements areblended with the rhythms of the primaryand secondary stage camera movementsand these rhythms relate to the steadypulse emanating from the center of theimage as a result of the different projectorand camera speeds during rephotography.The soundtrack successfully prevents theawareness of audience noise (theinevitable distraction of silent cinema) byfilling the aural space, but not drawingattention to itself. You tend not to noticeit after a while and can therefore concen-trate on what is most importantly a visu-al-feel film.”John Du Cane, Time Out, 1971“The refilming enabled the actions of thetwo girls to be emphasized to convey thetension and beauty of such a simple andemphatic gesture as a hand reaching out:frozen, and then moving slowly, thenfreezing, then moving again, and all thewhile creating tension and space beforethe contact. The refilming was done on asmall projector and this enabled me tocapture the pulsing (cycles) of the projec-tor light, which gave off a throbbingrhythm throughout, and increased themood of sensuality.”Stephen Dwoskin, Film Is…, 1975
“A time truncation film trailer for therather long film called
. Filmmade as a totally systematic stream of hitherto unrelated events welded togetherinto a colour interchange frame i.e. image(1), image (2), image (3)… repeat timecycle. 6 frames, 1/4 second, then imagesmove further along their original timebase; a very linear film.”London Film-Makers’Co-operativedistribution catalogue, 1977“I wasn’t particularly interested in mak-ing films about poetry but films that hadgot quite a strong sexual charge. Forinstance, in
Clocktime Trailer
there’s awoman in it who used to work for theOther Cinema years ago – JuliaMeadows. I was absolutely fascinatedwith her, it was almost like having sexthrough the lens of the camera. I havenow seen Michael Powell’s
Peeping Tom
,but I’d not seen that at the time. It cameout about 1960, here was such a hoo-hahabout it and I was only about 16.Subsequently when I saw it I was: “Ohmy god”. I could see how I was a realmenace!”Stuart Pound, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
“Films are not bombs. No cultural object,as such, can have such a direct and meas-urable effect on the physical universe.Film works in the more ambiguoussphere of art and ideas. It cannot changethe world, but it can change those whocan change it. Film makes use of valuesthat exist within a culture, and a society’sculture is more pervasive than its politics.The alteration, or even the questioning of existing value is the alteration of society.The established cultural hierarchy main-tains itself by protecting and enforcingthe ideas that keep it in power. Anythingthat attacks, questions, or provides newvalues is a threat. The culture allows onlythat which will not challenge its assump-tions; everything else must be forcedunderground. Film, as a cultural andsocial activity, contains within itself apotential for change. Besides the greatreporting and recording qualities of film,which provide it with a direct reference tothe culture, it also provides the sense of magic. It possesses this sense in its abili-ty to capture life; to capture movementand to fracture time and space. The maincharacteristics of magic are its indirectreference to the culture, and to the pastand its derivation from very specific emo-tional experiences. Magic’s base is thoseemotional experiences where the truth of the experience is not revealed by reason-ing, but by the interplay of these emo-tions on the individual human…”Simon Hartog & Stephen Dwoskin,“New Cinema”, Counter Culture: TheCreation of an Alternative Society, 1969
Soul in a White Room
was filmed bySimon Hartog around autumn 1968.Music on the soundtrack is “Cousin Jane”by The Troggs. The man is Omar Diop-Blondin, the woman I don’t recall hername. Omar was a student active in 1968during “les evenement de Mai et de Juin”at the Faculte de Nanterre, Universite deParis. Around this time, Godard was inLondon shooting
Sympathy for the Devil  / One Plus One
with the Stones and Omarwas here for that too, appearing withFrankie Y (Frankie Dymon) and the otherBlack Panthers in London ... maybeMichael X too. After returning toSenegal, Omar was imprisoned and killedin custody in ’71 or ’72. I believe his fateis well known to the Senegalese people.”Jonathan Langran, interview withMark Webber, 2002
manages, in its ten minutes, to putour perception to a rather strenuous test.Gidal will hold a static shot for quite along time, and then make very quick cutsto objects seen at closer range. There is just a hallway and a room partially visiblebeyond, pictures (one of Godard) on awall, fruit on a table, and so forth. Thecommonplace is rendered almost monot-onous as we become increasingly famil-iar with it from a fixed and sustainedviewpoint, and then we are disoriented bythe closer cuts and also by the suddenprolonged ringing of an alarm. But evenat the point of abrupt disorientation weremain conscious of the manipulationapplied.”Gordon Gow, “Focus on 16mm”,Films and Filming, August 1971“Demystified reaction by the viewer to ademystified situation; a cut in space andan interruption of duration through (obvi-ous) jumpcut editing within a strictlydefined space. Manipulation of responseand awareness thereof: through repetitionand duration of image. Film situation asstructured, as recorrective mechanism.(Notes from 1969) Still utilizing at thattime potent (signifying, overloaded) rep-resentations. (1972)”Peter Gidal, London Film-makers’Co-operative distribution catalogue, 1974“In
, extremely stable, normallyreproduced objects are given clear fromthe beginning, the editing, moreover,reducing the distance from which theyare seen, cutting in to show and to detailthem, repetition then undercutting theirsimple identification; the second timearound, a bowl of fruit cannot be seen asa bowl of fruit, but must be seen as animage in a film process, detached fromany unproblematic illusion of presence,as a production in the film, a mark of thepresence of that.”Stephen Heath, “Repetition Time”,Wide Angle, 1978
“It was about trying to get a mental posi-tion which defied the way in which thethen-C.I.A. was kind of intervening in theworld. But it was more, not a joke, but anicon title. I suppose it said to me and toother people, “Make your barb againstthe C.I.A.” A lot of my early work, allthat aggressive work, has a political para-noia about it: the idea that there are hid-den forces of the military-industrialestablishment, which are manipulating us
In recent years, my activities as an independentcurator or programmer of ‘avant-garde’filmand video have put me into contact with manyindividuals and organisations around theworld. Many people would ask me about theLondon Co-op and British filmmakers and Iwas embarrassed to have to admit that I didn’tknow much about the cinematic heritage of this country. The constant enquiries aboutBritish work made it clear that there was a sus-tained interest in, and demand for, the filmsmade in and around the London Film-Makers’Co-op.Gregory Kurcewicz should be credited withinstigating the present project in 1999. Sincethen it just grew and grew. During the earlystages of research, the screenings organised byFelicity Sparrow as part of the Whitechapel’sexhibition “Live In Your Head” provided avaluable opportunity to survey the field. At oneof those screenings I met Peter Mudie, whohad been working on an as-yet-unpublishedhistory of the Co-op. Peter generously gave mean early draft of his manuscript, giving meaccess to his years of research and interpreta-tion. David Curtis gave me hours of his timeand loaned me his archive of documentationfrom the period (which is now available at theAHRB Study Centre). Meanwhile, I waswatching every British film the Lux held thatwas made during this period and going directto filmmakers to discover and see the obscuri-ties and lost gems.This project was conceived not only as anoth-er historical film programme. The elements of preservation and documentation were veryimportant from the beginning. Many newprints, sound masters and internegatives havebeen made, a publication is planned and a web-site is being constructed as an online researchresource. In parallel to the exhibition, a docu-mentary on the Co-op is being made by JohnWyver and Illuminations.AGAINST INTERPRETATIONIt is not my intention to argue the historicalimportance of these works, nor do I wish to setup a ‘canon’of films by which this periodshould be measured. I see my role more that of an excavator, looking around, finding some-thing interesting and getting it out there sopeople can see it and make their own minds up.I have tried to appear transparent, butinevitably the choice of films in such an exhi-bition must be informed to some extent by per-sonal taste. I regret that many works have beenleft out despite attempts to be objective andinclusive. I was born in 1970 on the day theFirst International Underground Film Festivalbegan at the NFT. I hope that I have brought adifferent perspective on a period that has notrecently been reviewed.FILM AS FILMIt’s refreshing, in this time of new media feed-ing frenzy, to be reminded of the wondrousvirtues of film, a medium that is often nowseen as an archaic, old-fashioned and out-dated. Here are works made on film, by artists,because no other medium suits their purpose.Beneath the surface of each is an underlying‘human-ness’, an inherent tactility and tran-sience. You can
these films, that each onehas been crafted and fashioned into form byhand. The unique characteristics and possibili-ties of film are brought forward during therealisation of the work, where the artisticprocess begins at the inception of an idea andgoes right through to its projection.THE PRESENT SITUATIONThat
Shoot Shoot Shoot 
should finally becomevisible in London at this time seems incredibletimely, so much so that the project was almosthalted just as it began to move into the finalplanning stages. The closure of the Lux Centre,which managed the exhibition, in November2001 would have ended
Shoot Shoot Shoot 
if itwere not for the foolhardy persistence of BenCook and myself. The events that led up to theLux crisis are indicative of the lack of appro-priate planning, support and resources allocat-ed to artists’film and video in London (or theUK as a whole) in recent years. Despite earlycommitment of substantial funding from theArts Council of England’s National TouringProgramme and the British Council, for whichI am truly grateful, this project (and others likeit) has been hindered by the lack of institution-al or organisational support. Perhaps the cur-rent review led by the London funding agen-cies will improve matters, and in the meantimethe gap is being filled by independent screen-ings. Maybe the interest shown in experimen-tal film by a new generation will impel themajor arts bodies to invest in the venues, theprints and the production facilities that makeup this unique ‘essential’cinema.THE ABSENT CATALOGUEMuch of the work done over the past two yearshas been towards assembling materials for apublication and the launch of the film pro-gramme was the logical opportunity to publishthis research. A vast quantity of archival docu-mentation has been gathered, and many newinterviews have been conducted. Essays havebeen commissioned from David Curtis, BarryMiles, Michael O’Pray and Al Rees. Lack of funds have forced us to sacrifice the book infavour of film print costs. The proposed cata-logue will now be compiled as a separate book,to be completed when funds become available.It will hopefully benefit form the new insightand understanding of the works which shouldcome with the revival and re-viewing of thefilms and the discussions they will provoke. Inthe meantime, I hope this special broadsheetwill provide some background information forthe screenings. I am still collecting photos,stills, documentation and information, soplease get in touch if you might be able to help.Mark Webbershoot@lfmc.org
Simon Hartog, Soul in a White RoomAnthony Balch, Towers Open Fire
from within that power. Obviously, they
 – people
having their tele-phones tapped though I don’t suppose forone minute that my telephone was inter-esting enough to tap.
 Reign of theVampire
is that kind of paranoid film. It’sa hovercraft that comes in, but it couldeasily be a tank with the army getting outof it … The idea of a military force thatcan sneak in somewhere, and the comput-er images.
is in similar territo-ry, about the borders and so on but veryabstract. It’s about that hidden sense of force.”Malcolm Le Grice, interview withMark Webber, 2001“The film is made from six loops in pairs(simple superimposition, but made byprinting through both loops togetherrather than in two runs following eachother, the effect of this is largely to elim-inate the transparent aspect of superimpo-sition). In content, the film comes near tobeing a synthesis of the
 How to Screw theC.I.A. or How to Screw the C.I.A.
? series;it draws on pieces of film from the otherfilms, and combines these with the most‘disturbingof the images which I havecollected. It also relates to the‘dream’/fluid association sequence in
Castle Two
; it is a kind of on-goingunder-consciousness which repeats anddoes not resolve into any semantic conse-quence. One of the factors of the use of the loop, which interests me particularly,is the way in which the viewer’s aware-ness undergoes a gradual transformationfrom the semantic/associative to theabstract/formal, even though the ‘infor-mation’undergoes only limited change.The sound has a similar kind of loop/rep-etition structure.”Malcolm Le Grice,
 How to Screw theC.I.A. or How to Screw the C.I.A.?
pro-gramme notes, 1970* * *
The enquiry into the material of film asfilm itself was an essential characteristicof the Co-op’s output. These non- andanti- narrative concerns were fundamen-tally argued by the group’s principalpractising theorists Malcolm Le Griceand Peter Gidal.In explaining their (quite different) ideasin some erudite but necessarily densetexts Le Grice and Gidal have in someways contributed to misunderstandings of this significant tendency in the Britishavant-garde. (For example, It is not thecase, as is often proposed, that films weremade to justify their theories.)Le Grice was instrumental in acquiring,installing and operating the equipment atthe Co-op workshop that afforded film-makers the hands-on opportunity toinvestigate the film medium. His ownwork developed through direct process-ing, printing and projection, providing anunderstanding of the material with whichhe could examine filmic time throughduration, while touching on spectacle andnarrative.By contrast, Gidal’s cool, oppositionalstance was refined to refute narrative andrepresentation, denying illusion andmanipulation though visual codes. Hisuncompromising position resists allexpectations of cinema, even modernistformalism and abstraction. The artisticand theoretical relationship of these twopoles of the British avant-garde, whowere united in opposing ‘dominant cine-ma’, is a complex set of divergences andintersections.Originally intended as a test strip, the firstfilm produced at the Dairy on the Co-opstep-printer was
Shepherd’s Bush
, inwhich an obscure loop of abstract footagerelentlessly advances from dark to light.The two short films by Roger Hammondand Mike Dunford concisely encapsulatean idea; while
Window Box
exploits theviewer’s anticipation of camera move-ment and shrewdly transforms a seeming-ly conventional viewpoint, the perma-nence of the cinematic frame is the focusof 
brief enquiry.By translating footage across differentgauges, Crosswaite and Le Grice explorevariations in film formats:
Film No. 1
uses permutations and combinations of unsplit 8mm, while
 Little Dog for Roger
directly prints 9.5mm home movies onto16mm stock.In
, Gidal plays on the ambiguity of an image to challenge and refute theobserver’s interpretation of it, whileintensifying disorientation through hismanipulation of the soundtrack.Du Cane’s
 Zoom Lapse
comprises densemultiple overlays of imagery, vibratingthe moment, while Eatherley’s
re-photographs a reel of 8mm film, whichundergoes a mysterious transformationthrough refilming, colour changing andprinting.Roger Hammond, Window Box, 1971,b/w, silent, 3m (18fps)Mike Leggett, Shepherd’s Bush, 1971,b/w, sound, 15mDavid Crosswaite, Film No. 1, 1971,colour, sound, 10mMike Dunford, Tautology, 1973, b/w,silent, 5mPeter Gidal, Key, 1968, colour, sound,10mJohn Du Cane, Zoom Lapse, 1975,colour, silent, 15mMalcolm Le Grice, Little Dog For Roger,1967, b/w, sound, 13mGill Eatherley, Deck, 1971, colour,sound, 13m(Total running time approximately 81m)
“In the small masterpiece
Window Box
,Hammond sets up a situation which ismystified in its presentation, and yet atthe same time demands of (and allows)the viewer to demystify the given visualimpulses. The situation presentedincludes thus within its own premises theobjective factors which determine thepossibility and probability of successfulanalysis. The criteria one uses to evalu-ate, interpret, are secondary to this con-ceptually-determined process of workingout what is. We are taken into a post-log-ical empiricism which realizes the sensu-al strength of illusion which at the sametime using precisely that to refer to preci-sion of information. The opposite of Cartesian in its in-built negation of anyaspect outside of the given system.Hammond is non-atomistic, non-referen-tial within a specific, set-up, and definedclosed system. Thus, a pure attitude.Hammond is purifying the conceptualand non-psychological aspect of his workto the point where it increasingly repre-sents his calculable mental system: thenonreferential structural obligation. Hedoes not create a whole system, however;rather, he deciphers one.”Peter Gidal, “Directory of UKIndependent Film-Makers”, CinemaRising No. 1, April 1972“Roger Hammond’s movies are shortstudies of apparently simplesubjects…they induce a tight awarenessof how these relations can be radicallytransformed by subtle shifts in filmprocess; shifts of light value, angle,movement, framing, etc… The illusionsof cinema as they bend our conscious-ness, become the focus of our attention.In
Window Box
, a simple subject takes onmultiple dimensions in a ghostly worldcreated by the process of rephotograph-ing projected negative footage. There is agentle reminder in this process in theframing of the eventual image, whichincorporates in its composition a horizon-tal bar of light from the wall from whichthe film is being rephotographed.”John Du Cane, Time Out, 1971
Shepherd’s Bush
was a revelation. It wasboth true film notion and demonstratedan ingenious association with the film-process. It is the procedure and conclu-sion of a piece of film logic using a bril-liantly simple device; the manipulation of the light source in the Film Co-op printersuch that a series of transformations areeffected on a loop of film material. Fromthe start Mike Leggett adopts a relationalperspective according to which it is nei-ther the elements or the emergent wholebut the relations between the elements(transformations) that become primarythrough the use of logical procedure. Allof Mike Leggett’s films call for specialeffort from the audience, and a passiveaudience expecting to be manipulatedwill indeed find them difficult for theyseek a unique correspondence; one thatcalls for real attention, interaction, andanticipation/correction, a change for theaudience from being a voyeur to beingthat of a participant.”Roger Hammond, London Film-Makers Co-operative distribution cata-logue supplement, 1972“The process of film-making shouldemphasise the imaginative, and the con-tact between film-maker and spectatorshould become more direct.
Shepherd’s Bush
was made through a process con-trary to the generally accepted method of making a film. It was without a script,without a camera, without the complicat-ed route through task delegation. Theentity of the film was conceived throughthe reappraisal of a Debrie Matipo step-contact printer. Designed such that with
control of the light reaching theprint stock after having passed throughfilters, aperture band and the negative, itwas possible to demonstrate the gradualway in which the projection screen couldturn from black to white. First, a suitableimage on an existing piece of positivestock was found with which to produce amaster negative. The shot was only tenseconds in length but contained a rangeof tones from one end of the grey scale tothe other. It was loaded into the printer asa loop, and subsequently a print whichrepeated the action was made from thenegative. Only part of the viewer’s atten-tion should be taken with the perceptionof the figurative image on the screen. Itshould however, be dynamic enough towarrant careful inspection should theviewer’s attention turn to it. A thirty-minute version was made first, but onviewing was judged too long, so for thenext version half this length was judgedcorrect. A soundtrack was made match-ing in audio terms the perceptiblechanges in visual quality not usuallyencountered within the environment of the cinema. This film realized
con-trol over the making of a film, from selec-tion of the original camera stock, throughexposure, processing, printing, process-ing, projection, cataloguing, and distribu-tion.”Mike Leggett, excerpts from unpub-lished notes, 1972
Film No. 1
is a ten minute loop film. Thesystems of superimposed loops are math-ematically interrelated in a complex man-ner. The starting and cut-off points foreach loop are not clearly exposed, butthrough repetitions of sequences in dif-ferent colours, in different
reali-ties (i.e. negative, positive, bas-relief,neg/pos overlay) yet in a constant rhythm(both visually and on the soundtrackhum), one is manipulated to attempt towork out the system-structure. Onerelates to the repetitions in such a waythat one concentrates on working out theserial formula while visually experienc-ing (and enjoying) the film at the sametime. One of the superimposed loops ismade of alternating mattes, so that thescreen is broken up into four more or lessequal rectangles of which, at any onemoment, two or three are blocked out(matted). The matte-positioning is rhyth-mically structured, thus allowing each of the two represented
to flickering-ly appear in only one frame-corner at atime. This rhythm powerfully strengthensthe film’s existence as selective realitymanipulated by the filmmaker andexposed as such. The mattes are slightly‘off’; there is no perfect mechanical fit,so that the process of the physical matte-construction by the filmmaker is con-stantly noticeable, as one matte (at timesof different hue or different colour)blends over the edge of the matte next toit (horizontally or vertically). The filmdeals with permutations of material, in aprescribed manner, but one by no means
or logical (except within thefilm’s own constructed system/serial).The process of looping a given image isalready using film for its structural andabstract power rather than for a conven-tional narrative or ‘content’. But it is thesuperimposition of the black matteswhich gives the film its extremely richtexture, and which separates it from somany other, less complex, loop-typefilms. Crosswaite works, in this film,with two basic images: Piccadilly at nightand a shape which suggests at moments a3-D close-up of a flowerlike organicgrowth or a Matisse-like abstract 2-Dcutout. Depending on the colour dye of the particular film-segment and the posi-tive/negative interchange, the objectchanges shading and constanyly
-formsfrom one dimension to the other, whileshifting our perceptions from its reality as3-dimensional re-presentation to its reali-ty as cutout filling the film-frame with jagged edged blackness.”Peter Gidal, NFT EnglishIndependent Cinema programme notes,1972
“Regarding the in-built tautologicalaspects of perceptual structuring. Sincerefuted.”Mike Dunford, London Film-Makers’Co-operative distribution catalogue, 1977“Each time I make a film I see it as a kindof hypothesis, or a questioning statement,rather than a flat assertion of any particu-lar form or idea… Each film is a filmexperiment in the sense that the mostattractive features are those that work…My films are not about ideas, or aesthet-ics, or systems, or mathematics, but areabout film, film-making, and film-view-ing, and the interaction and interventionof intentive self-conscious reasoningactivity in that context.”Mike Dunford, 2nd InternationalAvant-Garde Festival programme notes,1973“Its pretty obvious isn’t it? That’s thekind of film that me and RogerHammond talked about. It’s because weactually spent quite a bit of time hangingout in the Co-op, processing things andtalking about ideas. He’d read Derridaand all that kind of stuff, and as a result Iread some of it too. And that’s how Iwould have got to make something like
, by talking to someone likehim A very simple idea, simply done; itdoes one thing and that’s all it does.”Mike Dunford, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
“… an enclosed and progressive disem-bowelment of durational progression. Hedraws out singularities … he allows thecamera only a fenced in area, piecemeal.He lets the gaze hold on objects and con-stantly repeats … this permits the possi-bilities of the discrepancies betweenone’s own seeing and seeing with thecamera to become distinct, and this inturn allows for a completely differentexperience of the surroundings.”Birgit Hein, Film Im Underground,1971“Structural/Materialist film attempts tobe non-illusionist. The process of thefilm’s making deals with devices thatresult in demystification or attempteddemystification of the film process. Butby ‘deals with’I do not mean ‘repre-sents’. In other words, such films do notdocument various film procedures, whichwould place them in the same category asfilms which transparently document anarrative, a set of actions, etc.Documentation, through usage of the filmmedium as transparent, invisible, isexactly the same when the object beingdocumented is some ‘real event’, some‘film procedure’, some ‘story’, etc. Anavant-garde film defined by its develop-ment towards increased materialism andmaterialist function does not
, or
, anything. The film producescertain relations between segments,between what the camera is aimed at andthe way that ‘imageis presented. Thedialectic of the film is established in thatspace of tension between materialist flat-ness, grain, light, movement, and the sup-posed reality that is represented.Consequently, a continual attempt todestroy the illusion is necessary. InStructural/Materialist film, the in/film(not in/frame) and film/viewer materialrelations, and the relations of the film’sstructure, are primary to any representa-tional content. The structuring aspectsand the attempt to decipher the structureand anticipate/recorrect it, to clarify andanalyze the production-process of thespecific image at any specific moment,are the root concern of Structural/Materialist film. The specificconstruct of each specific film is not therelevant point; one must beware not to letthe construct, the shape, take the place of the ‘story’in narrative film. Then onewould merely be substituting one hierar-chy for another within the same system, aformalism for what is traditionally calledcontent. This is an absolutely crucialpoint.”Peter Gidal, “Theory and Definitionof Structural/Materialist Film”, StructuralFilm Anthology, 1976
“If I had to compare my work with anoth-er activity, I would first point to two relat-ed musics: Reggae and certain WestAfrican music. If I had to label my work,I would choose a term radically opposedto ‘Structural’. I would say that I made‘Ecstatic Cinema’… I would like to thinkthat the ecstatic is our birthright and toremember that ecstasy has many dimen-sions: we know that, from the Greek, weare talking about ‘a standing outside’of oneself. This is meditation. And in theprocess of meditation, both rapture and adeep peace can co-exist. If my films workas intended, they will help you into ecsta-sy, and they will do this by satisfying in apolymorphic manner. The films are veryphysical, they are polyrhythmic and theyare patterned in a manner designed to cre-ate a very definite way of seeing, of expe-riencing. I intend my films to jump out atyou from their dark spaces, their gaps,their elisions, to vibrate in your wholebeing in the very manner and rhythm of felt experience. The magic of film for meis the possibility to portray these complexinterlacings unfolding through time. Youcan watch one of my films, and see twofilms simultaneously; one of my mindand one of yours. I say film of ‘my mind’,but what I want to emphasise, because thefilms emphasise it, is that is a film of my
. The last thing I want my films tobe is a purely mental event. This wouldbe to deny a large part of the spectrum of the film.”John Du Cane, “Statement onWatching My Films: A Letter from JohnDu Cane”, Undercut 13, 1984-85“I was interested in film as a sculpturalmedium, and as a way to have the viewerbe more aware of his viewing process, of his consciousness. My films were medita-tive at a time when that phrase wasn’t apopular term to use, but most of the filmswere designed to reflect the viewer backon themself. I also usually wanted myfilms to be very physical experiences, Iwanted to make the experience work onreally all of the main levels of energy; thephysical, the intellectual and the aspectsof awareness that we associate with con-sciousness. In
 Zoom Lapse
I was alsointerested in working with the way weperceive time and space as it can bemanipulated through the camera. Of course part of the content of this film hadto do with the camera’s ability to squeezeour perspective through the process of zooming in and zooming out on a partic-ular area. In the making of the film I actu-ally lapsed the zoom process, so that Iwould shoot a single frame that had azoom within it, and sequences in the filmthat were more extended zooms, so I tooka very simple shot. I was living on a canalin Hamburg in a kind of romantic, oldwarehouse district, about all that was leftafter the bombing of the city. There wasan old set of warehouse windows acrossthe way and so I was interested in explor-ing the ways that you could squeezespace and watch the relationshipsbetween your time perception and yourperception of space and how the twointeract. There’s a process in the film, thathappens in many of my other films,where I want the viewer to be pretty con-scious that what they’re seeing is notsomething that exists on the celluloid,that there’s a way they’re manufacturingin the viewing process. The film shouldvery obviously be something that if youcome back and watch it a second, third,fourth, fifth time you’re not really goingto see the same thing because the eye iscreating sets of images that don’t actual-ly exist.”John Du Cane, interview with MarkWebber, 2002
“The film is made from some fragmentsof 9.5mm home movie that my fathershot of my mother, myself, and a dog wehad. This vaguely nostalgic material hasprovided an opportunity for me to playwith the medium as celluloid and variouskinds of printing and processing devices.The qualities of film, the sprockets, theindividual frames, the deterioration of records like memories, all play an impor-tant part in the meaning of this film.”Malcolm Le Grice, Progressive ArtProductions distribution catalogue, 1969“The strategy of minimizing content tointensify the perception of film as a plas-tic strip of frames is explicitly demon-strated in Le Grice’s seminal
 Little DogFor Roger
. Here the 9.5mm ‘found-footage’of a boy and his dog is repeated-ly pulled through the 16mm printer; thevarying speed and swaying motion of theoriginal filmstrip ironically allude to theconstant speed and rigid registration of the 16mm film we are watching, anddevelop a tension between our knowledgeof the static frames which comprise thefilmstrip and the illusion of continuousmotion with which it is imbued. The useof ‘found-footage’and of repetition –which threatens endlessness, though thisis a relatively short film– owe some-thing to the ‘pop’aesthetic then domi-nant, but the spectator is never permittedto complacently enjoy these found-images; the graininess and under-illumi-nation, the negative sequences andupside-down passages are designed notso much to add variation as to continu-ously render those simple images difficultto decipher, thus stressing that very act of decoding. The relentless asceticising of the image became a major preoccupationin subsequent British avant-garde film-making.”Deke Dusinberre, Perspectives onBritish Avant-Garde catalogue, 1977
“During a voyage by boat to Finland, thecamera records three minutes of blackand white 8mm of a woman sitting on abridge. The preoccupation of the film iswith the base and with the transformationof this material, which was first refilmedon a screen where it was projected bymultiple projectors at different speedsand then secondly amplified with colourfilters, using postive and negative ele-ments and superimposition on theLondon Co-op’s optical printer.”Gill Eatherley, Light Cone distribu-tion catalogue, 1997
was shot on Standard 8, black andwhite, on a boat going from Sweden toFinland on a trip to Russia. And then I just filmed it off the screen at St Martin’s,put some colour on it, and turned itupside-down … Just turned it upside-down and put some sound on. The soundcame off a radio – just fiddling aroundwith a radio and a microphone, just in-between stations. It was one of thelongest films I’ve ever made and that kindof frightened me a little bit. I thought itwould be too long, you know, 13 minuteswas quite a long time. Most of my filmsare only three minutes, six minutes, eightminutes … but it could have gone onlonger maybe…”Gill Eatherley, interview with MarkWebber, 2001
Mike Leggett, Shepherd’s BushGill Eatherley, DeckJohn Du Cane, Zoom Lapse

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