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Filmmaker Focus: Stan Brakhage – Programme 1

Stan Brakhage is regarded as one of the most important experimental filmmakers of the 20th century. He worked with various kinds of celluloid; 16mm, 8mm, 35mm and IMAX, and was a practitioner of what he referred to as ‘pure cinema’. Brakhage’s films are usually silent and lack a story, being more analogous to visual poetry than to prose story-telling.

He often referred to them as ‘visual music’ or ‘moving visual thinking.’ He frequently hand-painted the film or scratched the image directly into the film emulsion, and sometimes used collage techniques. For HOME Artist Film Weekender we present two programmes incorporating 16mm projection from the LUX archives of this seminal artist filmmaker.

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception…Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before the “beginning was the word.”

So begins the classic Metaphors on Vision by Stan Brakhage (1933 -2003). First published in 1963 by Jonas Mekas as a special issue of Film Culture, it stands as the major theoretical statement by one of avant-garde cinema’s most influential figures, a treatise on mythopoeia and the nature of visual experience written in a style as idiosyncratic as his art. Yet despite its historical importance and undeniable influence, the complete Metaphors has heretofore remained out of print in English for over forty years.

To celebrate the new, definitive 2017 edition of Metaphors on Vision, published by Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry, HOME will present two rare screenings of early 16mm films by Brakhage. Reflections on Black presents a drama of heterosexual relationships, punctuated by direct scratches on the film’s emulsion; the groundbreaking Anticipation of the Night explores what Sitney calls “a new rhetoric of camera movement and montage,” and  Window Water Baby Moving, one of Brakhage’s most influential works, documents the birth of his first son.

Screening as part of Programme 1:

Reflections on Black
(1955, 12 mins, 16mm, sound)

Anticipation of the Night
(1958, 40 mins, 16mm, silent)

Window Water Baby Moving
(1959, 12 mins, 16mm, silent)

Duration 64 mins