There's nothing like the explosive kinetic energy of a hand-painted film. While so-called action painters like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning made the act of dripping, spraying, and applying paint on canvas the hight of artistic expression the 40s, abstract filmmakers like Harry Smith and Len Lye put the action in painting by painting directly onto 16mm celluloid - and then bringing them to life by illuminating the paintings with light and motion via projection.
Each frame of film, an individual work of art in its own right, dances with life when run through the gate of a projector, 24 frames per second.
When projected, these films are a sight to behold. (The provided Youtube links fail to do justice to the light play and the optical illusions one experiences in a live presentation.)
As part of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center's Painters Panting show, curator Andy Ditzler has put together PAINTERS FILMMAKING: An evening of handpainted films, featuring Smith and Lye, as well as works from Robert Breer, Otto Muehl, Kurt Kren, Luther Price, and my Bard classmate Jen Reeves.
As a fan of film, and painting, you really oughtn't to miss this one.
The highlight of the evening comes courtesy of avant garde pioneer Stan Brakhage. Late in his career, when it appears that he felt he did everything he could possibly do with film and a camera, he turned to hand painting film strips. Black Ice(1994) and The Dante Quartet(1987) (after the jump) are prime examples from this stage of his career.
As engaging as the films are when they're projected, they take on a whole new depth when viewed on their own, laid out frame by frame.
Treat yourself by visiting here.
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