ABSTRACT CINEMA: Colour Box
To celebrate the centenary of the 16mm-guage film format, and in response to the QAG exhibition ‘Living Patterns: Contemporary Australian Abstraction’, ‘Colour Box: Abstract Cinema’ brings together a selection of contemporary and archival 16mm experimental films to highlight the format's long-standing relationship with abstract cinema.
The program is presented across eight interconnected strands — in which, hand-painted explosions of colour, affectionate exchanges between vertical and horizontal lines, and playful dancing silhouettes are all brought to life courtesy of the 16mm film format. ‘Colour Box’ will include Len Lye’s Rainbow Dance 1936, Michael Snow’s Back and Forth 1969 and Hollis Frampton’s Palindrome 1969.
Production still from Rainbow Dance 1930 / Director: Len Lye / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra
Early Abstractions (61 MINS)
‘Early Abstractions’ features a selection of films by some of the pioneering figures in abstract cinema. Including works by filmmakers such as Walter Ruttmann, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Léger, these films showcase some of the earliest hand-painted and live action experiments with movement, shape and form on screen.
Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter / Diagonal Symphony / Rhythm 21 1921
Walter Ruttman / Opus 1 (Lichtspiel) 1921
Oskar Fischinger / Studies Nr. 5–8 (Studies No. 5–8) 1931
Man Ray / Le Retour A La Raison 1923
Fernand Léger / Ballet Mechanique 1924
Marcel Duchamp /Anemic Cinema 1926
Rene Clair / Entr’acte 1924
Boogie Doodle (48 MINS)
Wild orchestrations of colour and excitable shapes dance playfully across the screen in these delightful infusions of colour and sound. Including the work of renowned experimental filmmakers such as Norman McClaren, Oskar Fischinger and Len Lye, this selection of films celebrates the boundless joy of abstract cinema.
Lynsey Martin / Whitewash 1975
Norman McClaren / Lines – Vertical 1962
Len Lye / A Colour Box 1935
Norman McClaren / Boogie Doodle 1948
Len Lye / Rainbow Dance 1930
Mary Ellen Bute / Color Rhapsodie (Seeing Sound) 1955
Norman McClaren / Stars and Stripes 1943
Arthur and Corinne Cantrill / Kinegraffiti 1964
Norman McClaren / Blinkity Blank 1955
Norman McClaren / Lines – Horizontal 1961
Oskar Fischinger / Allegretto 1936
Production still from Euclidean Illusions 1979 / Director: Stan VanDerBeek / Image courtesy: LUX Moving Image
Geometric Visions (49 MINS)
‘Geometric Visions’ highlights a range of films that experiment with mischievous exchanges between mathematical forms and geometric shapes. From chance encounters between circles, triangles, squares and dots, to dancing forms that mimic the distinct patternations of snowflakes and bird songs, this selection of films is an immersive visual spectacle of colour and shape on screen.
Oskar Fischinger / Kreise (Circles) 1933
Mary Ellen Bute / Polka Graph (Seeing Sound) 1952
Oskar Fischinger / Komposition in Blau (Composition in Blue) 1935
Gayle Thomas / Neige (It’s Snow) 1974
Len Lye / Kaleidoscope 1981
Ivor Cantrill / Film of Circles, Squares, Triangles, Lines and Dots 1981
John Tappenden / Dawn Chorus 1988
Dirk De Bruyn / 223 1985
Tal Rosner / Without You 2008
Algo-Rhythms (57 MINS)
Embracing the connections between art and technology, ‘Algo-Rhythms’ includes a collection of abstract films that have been created using mechanical and computer-based devices. Including works by some of the leading figures in this area of abstract filmmaking, such as John Whitney and Stan VanDerBeek, this selection of films explores the intersections between art and science, resulting in a variety of kaleidoscopic and mesmeric viewing experiences.
Norman McClaren / Mosaic 1965
John Whitney / Matrix III 1972
Gerald Oster, Stan VanDerBeek / Moirage 1920
Stan VanDerBeek / Euclidean Illusions 1979
Joost Rekbeld / #11, Marey Moire 1999
Production still from #11, Marey Moiré 1999 / Director: Joost Rekbeld / Image courtesy: LUX Moving Image
Me, Myself and (the letter) I (62 MINS)
‘Me, Myself and (the letter) I’ features two films by prominent experimental filmmakers, George Landow and Hollis Frampton. Using a combination of text and motion, these films are both challenging visual puzzles and autobiographical reflections of the filmmakers themselves.
George Landow / Remedial Reading Comprehension 1970
Hollis Frampton / Zorns Lemma 1970
Articulating Images (55 MINS)
The films included in ‘Articulating Images’ take a performative approach to filmmaking through changes in motion, frame rate and camera positioning. Using a combination of unexpected visuals and abstract narratives, the selected films by Australian experimental filmmakers, Arthur and Corinne Cantrill and the late Canadian filmmaker and visual artist, Michael Snow, push the limits of the medium to offer new ways of seeing and experiencing film.
Corinne and Arthur Cantrill / Articulated Image 1996
Michael Snow / Back and Forth 1969
Rainbow Diaries (59 MINS)
‘Rainbow Diaries’ includes a selection of films that use abstract forms of filmmaking to experientially record everyday interactions and exchanges. From animated visual diaries to daily practices in experimental film and camera drawing, the featured films serve as both a record and a reflection of the often unseen moments that make up the broader experiences of living.
Marie Menken / Notebook 1962
Ivor Cantrill / Rainbow Diary 1984
Jonas Mekas / Notes on the Circus 1966
Barbara Hammer / Endangered 1988
Inner and Outer Space (63 MINS)
‘Inner and Outer Space’ includes a range of films that use the genre of abstract cinema to visually express that which exists beyond the limits of traditional representation. From the furthest reaches of space to the darkest recesses of the mind, this selection of films delves into abstract perceptions of inside and outside worlds.
Stan Barkhage / The Dante Quartet 1987
Hollis Frampton / Palindrome 1969
Jonas Balsaitis / Space Time Structures 1977
Glide of Transparency
Betzy Bromberg / Glide of Transparency 2016
Production still from Dawn Chorus 1979 / Director: John Tappenden / Image courtesy: LUX Moving Image
As part of the cinema program ‘Abstract Cinema’, four short films by Indigenous Australian artist Kent Morris, will screen on loop in the QAG Lecture Theatre on Sundays from 10.30am to 4.00pm until 4 February 2024.
By reconstructing the built environment through a First Nations lens, Morris reveals the continuing presence and patterns of Aboriginal history, culture and knowledge in the contemporary Australian landscape, despite ongoing colonial interventions in the physical and political environments.
Kent Morris (Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor)
Australia VIC b.1964
Karta-kartaka (Pink Cockatoo) 2023
Digital, colour, silent, 3 minutes
Waa and Wattle 2022
Digital, colour, silent, 3 minutes
Cultural Reflections – Continuous Connections 2022
Digital, colour, silent, 3 minutes
Barkindji Blue Sky – Ancestral Connections #10 2021
Digital, colour, silent, 14 minutes
Courtesy: Kent Morris, Vivien Anderson Gallery