Visions, Memory, and a Machine: Optical Manipulations

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Throbs (still)
Visions, Memory, and a Machine: Optical Manipulations

611 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
January 28th, 2012 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

(323) 655-2510
experimental film
Tickets: General $10, Students/seniors $6; free for Filmforum members Advance ticket purchase available through Brown Paper Tickets.


The optical printer played a crucial role not only in the Hollywood special effects industry, but in certain strains of experimental cinema as well.  Perhaps because of its co-habitation with America’s commercial film production center, Los Angeles artists, more than those of any other experimental film community, produced a substantial body of work that engaged with this versatile and powerful rephotography device.

Although artists such as Pat O’Neill, Beth Block, and Adam Beckett became famous for their facility with the optical printer in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Whitney brothers had constructed their own printer in their garage almost 30 years before.  From their initial explorations and master achievements, the range of these films only grew. Pat O’Neill is Los Angeles’s true avant-garde master, creating beautiful, moody films with floating mattes, variable film speeds, ghostly layering, wry wit, and masterful soundtracks, all working together to form a fractured almost-narrative, a reflection on the lost spaces and times of our city.  He has taught several other filmmakers, and they and others created masterworks with the machine - now largely replaced by computers.  

Playing with memory, landscape, animation, humor, and more, these films will delight you with their remarkable visions and stories.

In person: Beth Block, Pat O’Neill (schedules permitting), more to be announced

Screening (Subject to change):

Foregrounds (Pat O’Neill, 1978, 16mm, color, 14min.)
J. Hoberman’s Top-Ten list for 1978.

Saugus Series (Pat O’Neill, 1974, 18 min)

Saturn Cycle (David Wilson, 1974, 16mm, color, 16min.)

Throbs (Fred Worden, 1972, 16mm, color, 7min.) (restored print from the Academy Film Archive)
Film Achers (Beth Block, 1976, 16mm, color, sound, 8min.)
An optical printer film about film angst set to the Peter Pan song, "I Won't Grow Up", quoted by L.A. Times critic Kevin Thomas as progressing, "beyond boredom to pain."

Heavy-Light (Adam Beckett, 1973, 16mm, color, 7min.) (restored print from the iotaCenter/Academy Film Archive)

Project One (David Lourie, 1970, 16mm, color, sound, 14min.)

Babobilicons (Daina Krumins, 1982, 35mm, color, sound, 16min.)

TOTAL: 101min.

Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 will feature over 24 shows between October 2011 and May 2012. Alternative Projections is Filmforum’s exploration of the community of filmmakers, artists, curators and programmers who contributed to the creation and presentation of experimental film and video in Southern California in the postwar era. Film series curated by Adam Hyman and Mark Toscano, with additional contributions by David James, Christine Panushka, Jerri Allyn, Abraham Ferrer, Terry Cannon, Ben Caldwell, Stephanie Sapienza, Amy Halpern, and more.

Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Primary funding for Alternative Projections was provided by the Getty Foundation, with additional support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.

Our website at contains oral histories, articles, and a searchable database with individuals, films, organizations, and exhibitions, and archival content. This is the first database of its kind and will give scholars and the public a much richer understanding of art production in Los Angeles for years to come.  The contents of the screening series can also be found there.

Coming Soon to Los Angeles Filmforum:
Jan 25 & 26 – Single Wing Turquoise Bird – light show performance with live music, at UCLA EDA, part of the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival!
Jan 28 - Alternative Projections: Visions, Memory, and a Machine (at Cinefamily)
Feb 4 – Alternative Projections: Outsiders Observe Los Angeles (at the Echo Park Film Center)

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city's longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2012 is our 37th year
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