Still movies

Posted in Flotsam by LBM on October 17, 2011


Thanks for all of the great comments to my post about short-form video books. The intersection of photography and video appears to be really fertile ground these days. I particularly like this pairing of video and still images that Justin James Reed has on the front page of his website right now. Of course this kind of still video isn’t new. Experimental filmmakers have long explored this terrain.

Perhaps the most notable example is Hollis Frampton’s 1971 film (nostalgia). The 38 minute shows black and white still photographs by Frampton being burned on a hot plate while the soundtrack offers comments on the  content of the images. It is worth noting that this reading is done by Michael Snow who created the other masterpiece of still movies, Wavelength. This 1967 film is a 45 minute long static shot in which a lens zooms across a room and finally focuses on a picture of the sea pinned to the wall. (The movie is also a murder mystery; at one point in the film, a man – played by Hollis Frampton –  walks into the scene and dies).

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  1. Tom said, on October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    You might check out some of Andy Warhol’s “screentests” too:

  2. Michael Serra said, on October 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Hollis Frampton is one of my heroes, and Nostalgia, one of my favorites of his films. One of these days when I am in Western New York, I’m hoping to sit down and have a pot of tea or a bourbon with Marion Faller. A friend works for Harvard, and has been trying to get access to their Frampton collection for me—I’m particularly interested in the lectures they have recordings of for some of his courses at U. of Buffalo.

    If you are ever in Rochester, Alec, or anyone on the LBM team, check out the Frampton photographic work and papers at Visual Studies Workshop. Chances are you will also have the library mostly to yourself, which is a treasure in itself.

    Some of the funniest stories I’ve heard about Hollis are from Les Krims, who he taught with for decades at the U. of Buffalo, and David Wooters, who works at the Eastman House, who was in that area when Frampton was on speaking panels and such during the 1970’s and 80’s. One of these has to do with Hollis correcting a prominent photographic historian of the meaning of a word he used inaccurately, and describing the etymological history of the term, undoubtedly with grace and candor.

    This blog seems to routinely bring up one or another of my esoteric interests, and for that, my glass is raised to little brown mushroom!

  3. Kelvin Skewes said, on October 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Whenever I think of the intersection of stills and movies the first example that comes to my mind is Chris Marker’s 1962 sci-fi film ‘La Jetée’.

    Other obvious examples, Wavelength seems to be in the same neighbourhood as Duane Michels’s light hearted photographic series Things are Queer

    and in a slightly more lateral sense Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up (1962)

  4. Bob Black said, on October 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

    hi alec:

    glad to see someone link to La Jetee, I was literally just about to write about for you…and love love love Wavelength (i also once link to it here at LBM last year)….both Snow and Marker are 2 of my favorite examples of the use of still for narrative and non-narrative filmmaking….and am also a big fan of Hollis Frampton’s work…..ironically, Marina and I on Saturday are going over to our friends, the great canadian filmmaker mike hoolboom (are you familiar with his work??) to give him feed back on his new rough draft of a film, composed entirely of still images……i’ll ask him if i can somehow link here to his work…one of my favorite of Mike’s film is called White Museum: a film composed entirely of the leader of film for the first 35 minutes and then the last minute is a real frame of a man walking…as the film has been shown, the white leader has increasingly been marked up, stained, scratched, bruised, so that the white itself has come to resemble drawings….gorgeous…as is all his non-narrative work…ditto Philip Monk..toronto/canada actually has an extraordinary rich history (speared./inspired by snow) of brilliant use of film/still/ideas for filmmaking…remember our chat: if you ever need to relocate to a different city ;)))

    anyway, no time to write properly, but i wanted to encourage you to watch Decasia too…a variant on the notion of film decay…a kind of sibling to Nostalghia…..WATCH IT!….

    and by the way, are these all simple variants on the small flip book films we made as kids in elementary school, by drawing successive images of a man jumping, ball rolling, sky falling etc….the one’s dima made when he was 7 and 8 are still priceless…i’m sure your 2 little ones have conjured some magic from that form too ;))…

    anyway, here is Bill Morrison’s Decasia:

  5. Bob Black said, on October 18, 2011 at 6:23 am

  6. Bob Black said, on October 18, 2011 at 6:25 am

    here is a description of Mike’s White Museum

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