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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a new home for making art at Duke University.
Date & Time
Friday, March 30 at 7:00 pm8:00 pm
Free; no reservations required
Film Theater at the Rubenstein Arts Center
2020 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27705

Material engagement has always been at the forefront of experimental film practice, from Man Ray’s rayograms to Stan Brakhage’s hand-painted works. Interrogating the celluloid surface opened up new forms of representation that departed from conventional figurative imagery and allowed a more sensuous visual experience to emerge. As Brakhage stated, ‘Imagine an eye unruled by manmade laws of perspective.’ In our contemporary digitally-dominated world, the physical material of photochemical film takes on a renewed significance, enjoying a renaissance of sorts now that it is freed almost entirely from its association with commercial filmmaking. This specially-curated series of film programs provides an insight into how material desire manifests in the working methods of a range of contemporary filmmakers and provides historical parallels to contextualize current techniques.


Berlin Horse
(Malcolm Le Grice, 1970, 9 min, UK, Color, 16mm)
This film is largely filmed with an exploration of the film medium in certain aspects. It is also concerned with making certain conceptions about time in a more illusory way than I have been inclined to explore in many other of my films. It attempts to deal with some of the paradoxes of the relationships of the “real” time which exists when the film was being shot, with the “real” time which exists when the film is being screened, and how this can be modulated by technical manipulation of the images and sequences.

Konrad & Kurfurst
(Esther Urlus, 2013-14, 7 min, Netherlands, Color, 16mm)
The home-brewed emulsion is a fragile metaphor for the heroism of Konrad and his horse Kurfurst during the Olympic Games in Berlin, 1936. Falling from his horse, he became a national hero, only to become an anti-hero when overtaken by history. Made by consulting technical publications from early cinema and photographic experiments.

(Esther Urlus, 2016, 8 min, Netherlands, Color, 16mm)
Elli consists of a seascape shot from the spot that marks the start of World War II in Greece. However, it is mainly a follow-up to filmmaker Esther Urlus’s inquisitive interest in color mixing in film. In this case, the optical mixing created by various flicker effects.

Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper
(David Rimmer, 1970, 9 min, Canada, Color, 16mm)
David Rimmer repurposes a fragment of NFB footage depicting a female factory worker shaking out large sheets of cellophane into something wondrously alchemical and almost otherworldly.

Seoul Electric
(Richard Tuohy, 2010, 14 min, Australia, Color, 16mm)
A North Asian metropolis. Electricity wires draped like thick webs adorn the streetscape. Explosive sparks of color electrify the frame. Filmed in Seoul in black and white. Colorised during processing using colored torch light.

(Jeanne Liotta, 2003, 4 min, USA, Color, 16mm)
An abstract moving rayogram in the form of a woman or an aria. Living in time experienced as high drama, dissolving into the infinite. A dialectical manifestation of phenomena in flux, like any other movie.

(Terra Long, 2015, 4 min, Canada, Color, 16mm)
A meditation on motion through stillness with breath. Shot in single frames on 16mm and hand painted.

An Empty Threat
(Josh Lewis, 2018, 8 min, USA, Color, 16mm)
Deep black blots created with drops of photographic developer, mirrored in various shapes and sizes, are sequenced into a variety of visual rhythms that add up to a sort of uneasy animation.

About the Curator

Kim Knowles is an academic and curator based in Bristol, UK. She teaches film studies at Aberystwyth University and has programmed the “Black Box” experimental strand of the Edinburgh International Film Festival since 2008.

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