A Variable Prism

Films by Zachary Formwalt, Marine Hugonnier, Lucy Raven, Oleg Tcherny

Filmstills: RP47 by Lucy Raven, 2012; Unsupported Transit by Zachary Formwalt, 2011; The Last Tour by Marine Hugonnier, 2004; The General Line by Oleg Tcherny, 2011.

One task of digital cinema has been to enact its own coming into being: to take the inherited forms of ‘cinema’ — its materials, techniques, histories, narrative tactics, and technical mechanisms — and inhabit them under changed terms, so that they become either newly relevant or definitively historical. The films in this program all re-map canonical filmmaking imperatives as narrative motivators: techniques like the aerial shot, or frame compositing, or time-lapse motion here become forms of storytelling, wherein specific objects, places, or buildings become enmeshed in their own historical circumstance. Against data’s flowing liquidity, these films posit digital material as heavy, embodied, and embedded: in architecture, in nature, in machinery, in the frames of a film as it is watched.

In Lucy Raven’s RP47 (2010), historical test frames used by projectionists to set image standards (focus, aperture, field steadiness, framing) are repurposed into a flickering abstraction, whose constituent segments collectively narrate a vast swath of cinema’s technical history. Oleg Tcherny’s The General Line (2011) is built on a single tracking shot: a fixed camera mounted on a ship traces the shoreline as it leaves the Venetian harbor. Slowly, every successive frame in the film becomes superimposed upon all the others, such that the landscape reduces itself to a single set of blurred lines. The Last Tour (2004) by Marine Hugonnier is predicated on a single shot: the aerial view, from a hot air balloon, of the Swiss Matterhorn mountain park, set in a future when the landscape is closed to human visitors. Zachary Formwalt’s Unsupported Transit (2012) spins a story of cinema’s origins at the site of the stock exchange in the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen, China, unraveling a connection between time-lapse photography and the fluidity of any effort to visualize capital.

Lucy Raven
Randomized digital projection transferred to HD video, 4 mins, 2012

Zachary Formwalt
Unsupported Transit
HD video, stereo, color, 14:30” mins, 2011

Marine Hugonnier
The Last Tour
Super 16mm transferred to DV, 14 mins, 2004

Oleg Tcherny
The General Line
HD video, stereo, color, 12 mins, 2011

Benjamin Tiven is an American filmmaker and writer. Recent exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Delfina Foundation, London; 1/9unosunove gallery, Rome, and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster. Films screened at the Viennale, FIDMarseille, Rotterdam, Oberhausen, and Arsenale Cinema, Berlin. Recent publications: Scrim Sinews (Cura Books, 2015), and contributions to the journals Triple Canopy, Bidoun, and Bulletins of the Serving Library.



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