Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 7:30pm
Two Films by Klaus Wyborny
Introduced by Larry Gottheim
Light Industry presents two films by Klaus Wyborny. A key figure of experimental cinema in Europe and a noted influence on artists like Derek Jarman, his work is all too rarely seen in the US. We feel a revival is long overdue.
Pictures of the Lost World, 1974, 16mm, 50 mins
"Wyborny trained as a mathematician, worked as a cameraman on Werner Herzog's Kasper Hauser. He first attracted the attention of the New York and London avant-gardes five years ago for his elliptical narratives, Dallas Texas - After The Gold Rush (1971) and The Birth of a Nation (1973). Their plots, 'collapsed' by the optical transformation and repetition of individual shots, move from anecdotal narrative to an examination of narrative construction itself. His method was analogous, in a way, to that of novelists like Robbe-Grillet (e.g. Jealousy), though Wyborny was far more interested in the actual materials of film than were the french 'new novelists' when they turned to cinema. His work was further characterised by a romantic appreciation for desolate, ruined vistas. The 1975 Pictures of the Lost World is clearly an outgrowth of this concern and, in its virtual abandonment of storyline, forms a bridge to his subsequent, more purely structural films.
"For 50 minutes or so Pictures presents a series of static, or gently swaying images which are sometimes bucolic landscapes but more often industrial ones (sludgy harbours, power lines, abandoned railway stations or deserted factories). The interplay between the two sets of imagery is not simple. Wyborny photographs his modern ruins at their most ravishing - at dawn or sunset, partially reflected in the water or glimpsed through the trees. Shots recur throughout, optically printed into brilliant colours or else, given the washed out quality of fifth generation Xeroxes. As there are few people shown, one's impression is of a planet that is populated mainly by cows, barges and hydraulic drills.
“On the soundtrack, a pianist improvises a slow, chord-heavy piece that adds to an overall sense of lush melancholy. Towards the end, Wyborny begins to parody his own nostalgia. The images repeat in rapid-fire clusters while the pianist switches to a maddening seven-note phrase, playing it over and over, like a record stuck in a groove. In its mock symphonic form, the film is an ironic exaltation of the ‘pastoral ideal’ (still a strong strain in both British and German avant-garde films) as it celebrates the entropic beauty of the same satanic mills that drove Wordsworth in the countryside and Schiller to decry the 'degeneration' of European culture...If Wyborny's work is a harbinger, the European avant-garde is surely in the midst of a full-scale renaissance. " - J.Hoberman
Unreachable Homeless, 1978, 16mm, 25 mins
Could it be true that Bergson's dream of durée in the movies can't be achieved by following the intentions of Lumiere's patterns? That it can only be reached by misusing an invention that wanted to depict continuous movement and thus carried the tormenting germs of representational time? That only the most terrifying destruction of physical continuity that is achievable by camera operations can give the spectator at least an idea of what durée can mean in film? The most admirable invention of the narrative cinema, the inevitable and systematic return - out - usually one of the worst carriers of non-durée - can become the Santa Maria that sails to reconquer the realms of real time? That nobody takes any notice of you? That the only trace of your appearance that is perceived by other people is your despicable body odour? If these questions and more torment you in your dreams and are a trouble to your days, you might find a few answers in watching Unreachable Homeless. The main character of this film is a person who wakes up one morning and realises that he is but a robot. In the course of the day his appearance changes and when finally night dissolves his identity, we participate in the most horrendous sexoaesthetic inversion any human has witnessed to date.
Tickets - $7, available at door.