Monday, September 26, 2022 at 7:30pm
Early Films by Peter Tscherkassky

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

After a decade in Greenpoint, Light Industry has moved to East Williamsburg: 361 Stagg Street, Suite 407. Our fall season begins in this new space, designed by AD-WO, with a selection of early films by Peter Tscherkassky. The works assembled here stand as some of the most vital cinematic experiments of the late 20th century, appealing, at once, to the eye through the virtuosity of their formal construction, and to the theoretical imagination through their rigorous conceptual strategies.

Freeze Frame, Peter Tscherkassky, 1983, 16mm (originally Super-8), 10 mins

"The visual background material for Freeze Frame consists of shots taken in a 'redevelopment area' in Berlin, i.e. old buildings shortly before their demolition, filmed through a loo window which repeatedly slides in front of the houses like a shutter; shots from a construction site in Frankfurt; as well as of an incineration plant—the anus, as it were, of a city—where one can watch a huge grip arm and a worker pushing the garbage around. These pictures are set in contrast to pictures of visitors and participants at a neighborhood street festival, the kind where the city attempts to conceal itself behind a poor imitation of village charm. While the visual material is taken to the brink of collapse, the symmetry of urban architecture has drifted into the macrostructure of the film: with the A-B-C-D-C-B-A structure of its visual motifs, Freeze Frame has identifiable edges and a center. But I even dissolve this macrostructure in a finale in which the 'edge' destroys itself and opens to the pure light of the projector lamp." - PT

Shot-Countershot, Peter Tscherkassky, 1987, 16mm, 22 seconds

"The 'Great Syntagmatics of Film' by Christian Metz interprets the feature film as reducible to autonomous segments, that are separated into autonomous shots and syntagmas, whereby the latter can be separated into non-chronological syntagmas (sequence of parallel montage) and chronological syntagmas. Within these is again differentiation between descriptive and narrative syntagmas, whereby the narrative syntagmas are divided into alternating syntagmas and linear narrative syntagmas (the linear narrative syntagmas are thereby divorced in scene and sequence). The shot-countershot-technique is a typical linear narrative syntagma." - PT

Parallel Space: Inter-View, Peter Tscherkassky, 1992, 16mm (originally 35mm), 18 mins

"Parallel Space: Inter-View was made using a still camera. The photograph produced by a 35mm camera corresponds exactly to the size of two film frames. If the negative of a photograph is projected sideways, two film frames are seen: first the upper and then the lower half of the original photographic image is projected. Its temporal and spatial unity disintegrates into pieces which then start corresponding with each other.

In 1985, I came up with the concept for a film which was to be produced with a photo camera. I can no longer remember when I first noticed that the size of a 35mm miniature negative is exactly the size of two film frames. For my film Manufraktur in 1985 I was still using some sequences of serial photographic pictures. In the following years I made further trial pictures for a film which was to be produced solely in the photo camera and which was meant to reflect this method of production.

I have, after all, been working on Parallel Space: Inter-View since 1988. Originally there was a strict, formal concept. The space of the Renaissance locked in the optics of the film and photo camera. Our eye, in front of which the landscapes of the film spread out and let themselves be conquered. The conception of an up-to-date subject, the subject of the modern, marking out its innerworldy position. And the subversion of this constellation by letting the hardware and the software slip a little bit. If I take a spatial photograph with strict central perspective where the vanishing point is in the middle, it gets smashed when projected. The spatial lines plunge towards the lower edge of the one frame to then be ripped apart at the top of the next. Optically it resembles a flickering double-exposure; the former temporal and spatial unity disintegrates into pieces which then start corresponding with each other. It then closes itself up again and regains its own entity. But soon these spatial constructions were not enough for me. I began to interpret both spatial halves with regard to content, namely to transport the viewer's seperation from the surrounding reality, into a row of further binary opposites: listener – speaker, seer – seen, private – public, man – woman, child – grown up, sensuality/emotion – reason, sexuality – taboo, active – passive and so on. To this I took the setting of psychoanalysis to compare it with that of the cinema. In both cases there is the narrator who does not know or see his listeners. Film makers like analysand produce a very intimate flow of pictures which are met with a highly concentrated reception and still fall into the anonymity of the audience..." - PT

Happy-End, Peter Tscherkassky, 1996, 16mm (originally Super-8), 11 mins

"Happy-End was part of the celebration of the centennial of cinema, as a contribution to a 90-minute found footage film reel with works by eight specialists in the field. The material is the (presumably complete) film legacy of an anonymous (and obviously childless) couple. Elfriede and Rudolf filmed themselves not only on holiday by the sea and in the mountains, but also exchanging Christmas presents, celebrating parties with friends and eating and drinking at home by themselves, just the two of them—or rather the three of them, since it was taken for granted that the camera was included. The most recent shots were dated 1980, the oldest were from the early 1960s. I wanted to give the two of them a proper resurrection and arranged the material in reverse (in terms of time).

In the course of the film Elfriede and Rudolf thus not only become younger and younger, but this also takes us back to the 'time before the tripod,' when there was not yet a remote control cable to operate the camera, and Rudolf and Elfriede alternately captured one another on film with a hand-held camera, sipping eggnog and enjoying cream cakes. They even indulged in pralines before sex (which made a slight, very reserved, almost invisible appearance in Happy-End). Following the introduction, which still belonged to the calm tripod shots, the hand-held shots were interwoven using double projection: a rush of images accompanying the blissful ecstasy of the two actors, all the way to the finale, an exuberant dance by Elfriede leading into a freeze frame of her face, its expression conveying both joy and deep pain at the same time." - PT

L'Arrivée, Peter Tscherkassky, 1998, 16mm (originally 35mm), 2 mins

"Reduced to two minutes L'Arrivée gives a brief, but exact summary of what cinematography (after its arrival with Lumiéres' train) has made into an enduring presence of our visual environment: violence, emotions. Or, as an anonymous American housewife (cited by T.W. Adorno) used to describe Hollywood's version of life: 'Getting into trouble and out of it again.'" - PT

Outer Space, Peter Tscherkassky, 1999, 16mm (originally 35mm), 10 mins

For Outer Space, one of his greatest and most influential works, Tscherkassky warps images of Barbara Hershey from the 1981 supernatural horror movie The Entity into a wide-screen storm of gasps, flashes, and crackles, as if the emulsion itself had been cursed by some convulsive transformation. This result is achieved through an entirely cameraless process, which the filmmaker here describes: "I place a strip of unexposed 35 mm film on a piece of cardboard that measures 15 by 100 centimeters. The filmstrip itself equals 48 frames in length, which comes to two seconds of projection time. The raw stock I use is orthochromatic—since it is desensitized to red light, I can work in a darkroom dimly lit by a red bulb. The unexposed film is held in place by small nails with which the cardboard is outfitted. I place one meter of found footage on top of my unexposed film stock. The nails of the cardboard protrude through every fourth perforation hole, so I can keep track of the frame lines: 35mm film has four perforation holes per film frame, each pair of nails holds one frame in place. Subsequently I copy the found footage onto the raw material by exposing it to light. After copying details from 48 frames of found footage, I repeat the process several times over again, exposing the same single strip of raw stock to several different strips of found footage. In this way, I can mix details from entirely disparate sequences and each individual frame becomes an intricate optical collage. Parts of Outer Space include up to five multiple exposures."

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door, cash and cards accepted.

Seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.

Viewers with photosensitivity, please note, this show includes strobe effects.