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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a home for making art at Duke.
Date & Time
April 12, 2018 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.


The Place I Will Have Left
(Lena Ditte Nissen, 2016, 15 min, Germany, DCP)
The Place I Will Have Left
studies dialectical relations between black and white, the human and the non-human, light and shadow, security and insecurity, sound and silence, the known and the unknown, yourself and the other, in an audiovisual minimalist meditation.

(Stan Brakhage, 1963, 4 min, USA, Color, 16mm)
A “found foliage” film composed of insects, leaves, and other detritus sandwiched between two strips of perforated tape.

Cat’s Cradle
(Stan Brakhage, 1959, 6 min, USA, Color, 16mm)
A film described by Brakhage as “sexual witchcraft involving two couples and a ‘medium’ cat.”

Lunar Almanac
(Malena Szlam, 2013, 4 min, Canada, Color, 16mm)
Lunar observations shot frame-by-frame and long exposures on hand processed 16mm Ektachrome film create a chronicle of the lunar phases. Through their layering, the filmmaker emphasizes that the observer, burdened by memory and changing frames of view, moves along a non-linear time-planes.

Sound of a Million Insects, Light of a Thousand Stars
(Tomonari Nishikawa, 2014, 2 min, USA/Japan, Color, 35mm)
Disordered marks and traces, representing the imprint of time between sunset and sunrise on the night of June 24th 2014, blend into the green and blue tones of the light-exposed emulsion.

Parties Visible et Invisibles d’Un Ensemble Sous Tension
(Emmanuel Lefrant, 2009, 7 min, France, Color, 35mm)
Two elements form the basis of this work: shots of a Togo landscape and a film strip buried at the same site, the emulsion of which was eroded by bacteria. After intensive processing, the result is colorful and rhythmical, like a stained-glass window to Africa.

37/78 Tree Again
(Kurt Kren, 1978, 4 min, Austria, Color, 16mm)
At the center are takes which do not change – a tree in a field in Vermont, U.S.A. Since the film was shot over a period of fifty days, the single frame shots create a storm of pictures.

Engram of Returning
(Daïchi Saïto, 2015, 19 min, Canada, Color, 45 min)
Accompanied by an extraordinary improvisational score, Engram of Returning is an epic 35mm metaphysical travelogue that reveals a supernal world which pulses and flickers with formal patterns and deep hues.

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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