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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a new home for making art at Duke University.
Date & Time
Thursday, March 22 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.


Dresden Dynamo
(Lis Rhodes, 1971, 5 min, UK, Color, 16mm)
This film is the result of experiments with the application of Letraset and Letratone onto clear film. It is essentially about how graphic images create their own sound by extending into that area of film which is ‘read’ by optical sound equipment. The final print has been achieved through three, seperate, consecutive printings from the original material, on a contact printer. Colour was added, with filters, on the final run. The film creates the illusion of spatial depth from essentially, flat, graphic, raw material.

Abject Noise
(Bea Haut, 2014, 3 min, UK, Color, 16mm)
An investigation of the optical film strip, where light triggers sound; passing objects as noise across and out of the visible frame, and through the unseen strip. The artist, the action, and the consequent sound, all skirt around the edges of the visible film frame. Dissolving the usual boundaries of framing and structure, this is an extended format film, asking the viewer to see what isn’t in view and to hear the shape of things.

Barge Dirge
(Lindsay McIntyre, 2010, 7 min, Canada, Color, 16mm)
Built in 1972, The Rothesay Carrier, one of the largest sea-faring vessels of her kind ever constructed, spends one long lonely year trapped by ice in a Canadian Arctic hamlet. Subsequent to the shooting of this footage, she was crushed and melted for scrap. A portrait study of an object explored through the structure of film editing and the structure of the object itself.

Film Stenopeico
(Paolo Gioli, 1974-89, 13 min, Italy, Color, 16mm)
This film, as the Vertovian title indicates, was made without a movie camera, more precisely with a device custom made to restore to images freedom from optics and mechanics. The images enter simultaneously through 150 holes distributed along one side in proximity to each frame, that come to make up 150 tiny pinhole camera obscuras, also called stenopeic. One of the most obvious results will be to find oneself confronted precisely with a movement of the camera that never happened; somewhat magical pneumatic flutterings running longitudinally and transversally along a face and body reconstructed through 150 image points.

Under the Shadow of Marcus Mountain
(Robert Schaller, 2010, 5 min, Canada, Color, 16mm)
The structures of our thought filter what we see, and in fact there is no seeing apart from those structures. This film is part of an ongoing project to show where I am in a (here, natural) landscape in a way that reflects those structures of thought. It is “hypnogogic,” not so much perceptually (although to some extent that too) as conceptually. Our eyes see constantly, but what do we actually notice? That vision is excessive, wasteful, even; in paring down, it becomes both more spare and more concentrated.

Orange Trill
(G. Anthony Svatek, 2015, 4 min, USA, Color, Digital)
Technology sees our corporeal existence as burdensome, resulting in the body’s dissolution and disconnect from the very ground beneath our feet. Hand-processed 16mm film and the electronic flicker of an old CT computer monitor create degrees of purity, traversed by the dancer’s movements. Orange Trill is a cinedance in which the performance challenges the film to match its moves.

At the Academy
(Guy Sherwin, 1974, 4 min, UK, Color, 16mm)
A found-footage film made entirely from Academy leader, which is normally used to cue the start of films. The film was hand-printed on a home-made contact printer. It was rolled back and re-printed several times over, to create a complex layering of both image and sound.

Dream Enclosure
(Sandy Ding, 2014, 19 min, China, Color, Digital)
Wandering in dreamland, a person travels and teleports herself into memory and a mystery landscape. The dream becomes a flickering and looping echo with hovering noise.

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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