Living Film - 16th October 2013

Vicky and Karel introducing the event

I recently showed Rosemary, Again and Again at Living Film, an evening of film and performance work curated by Vicky Smith and Karel Doing at Lab.  It was a stunning mix of performance, single and dual screen, installation and looped projection work.  Vicky and Karel's programme introduction stated;

"We refer to Living Film with respect to the reversibility of the terms: film as object that is activated through physical contact and film as an ongoing mode of material practice that shapes the consciousness of, animates and enlivens its makers. 

This program of films, installations and performances focuses on the use of film as a living material. In mainstream cinema every trace of physical contact is removed from the film material, but with the disappearance of film from the industry, the medium is liberated from this armour. 

Living Film presents a selection of works made through the practice of touching film, applying bodily fluids, and chemically and/or physically altering it's surface. These works take the form of single screen films, performative action, installation and expanded cinema. 

At stake here is not just an artistic concept or method but the formation of a strategy towards an alternative filmmaking ecology: working with cheap or out of date film stocks; bartering knowledge for materials; finding cooperative forms for using resources and equipment."

Threading Rosemary, Again and Again with Karel

Image of the projection of George Saxon's Blissfully Gunned Down 

I particularly loved George Saxton's Blissfully Gunned Down a dual screen 16mm looped projection of a young man walking away from the camera, stumbling and then walking towards the camera and being, seemingly shot down and falling.  At this point the film loops and starts again.  The images on both loops are the same but don't run in tandem.  Being sat quite near the front, I couldn't see, what was happening behind me, and was intrigued how the image was degrading as the performance progressed.  It was explained after that George was scratching the film as it went through the projector.  The rhythmic sound of the shot and the scratched film seemed to grow louder as the performance ended.  

There was a poignancy to this which I realised after when reading the programme notes;

"Blissfully Gunned Down, From an original collaboration with the late D. John Briscoe (1949-2013).. The original 50' of 16mm negative was shot in 1980 with John Briscoe who performs in these short sequences.  John, later processed the neg in a bath.  The neg was shelved and re-found in 2012.  This was an uncompleted piece of film work.  33 years later the footage is resurrected, printed and finally performed."

James Holcombe and Asnan Adams, Hair in Gate

Other work that stood out for me was; James Holcombe and Asnan Adams, Hair in the Gate which is precisely that.  James cut off lengths of his own hair and stuffed it in the gate of the 16 mm projector, the image was of hair bunching in the gate, getting stuck until the smell of burning hair filled the room.

Also, for it's truly expanded nature, and their use of the photogram process, Viktoria Schmid's Foodfilms.  The audience were invited to eat the final dish concocted of the ingredients which appeared on the film.

Viktoria Schmid's Foodfilms

Nicky Hamlyn has written a full review of the evening here.

For the full programme, see's website.

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