Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 by Adam Hyman and David E. James

715808cd9c71191-261x361.jpg Author Adam Hyman and David E. James
Isbn 9780861967155
File size 5MB
Year 2015
Pages 320
Language English
File format PDF
Category art


Alternative Projections Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in LA 1945–1980 was made possible by major grants from the Getty Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Visions and Voices: A Humanities Initiative at the University of Southern California, and the assistance of the School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California. Alternative Projections was part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brought together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California in 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 Edited by David E. James and Adam Hyman ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 A catalogue entry for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 9780 86196 715 5 (Paperback) Cover design: From Foregrounds, by Pat O’Neill (1978), courtesy of the artist. Ebook edition ISBN: 9780-86196-909-8 Published by John Libbey Publishing Ltd, 3 Leicester Road, New Barnet, Herts EN5 5EW, Unitededition Kingdom Ebook published by John Publishing Ltd, 3web Leicester Road, New Barnet, Herts EN5 5EW, e-mail:Libbey [email protected]; site: United Kingdom Distributed Worldwide by Indiana University Press, e-mail: [email protected]; web site: Herman B Wells Library – 350, 1320 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. Printed and electronic book orders (Worldwide): Indiana University Press, Herman B Wells Library – 350, 1320E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA © 2015 Copyright John Libbey Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Unauthorised duplication contravenes applicable laws. © 2015 Copyright John Libbey Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Unauthorised duplication contravenes laws. Printed and bound in China by 1010applicable Printing International Ltd. iv Contents CONTENTS Acknowledgements Foreword Adam Hyman Introduction David E. James PART I Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 HISTORICAL MATERIALS Introduction David E. James Distribution Center for Experimental Films Curtis Harrington Personal Chronicle: The Making of an Experimental Film Curtis Harrington A Letter from the West Coast Robert Pike Amateur vs. Professional Maya Deren Personal State Meant John Fles A Statement Curtis Harrington Are Movies Junk John Fles Los Angeles Film Festival Jack Hirschman Seeing Is Believing John Fles Underground Movies Rise to the Surface Kevin Thomas Students Reflect Future of Cinema Gene Youngblood Woman as Ethnographic Filmmaker Chick Strand Mouse Enigma: Auto-History Of A Film Person Peter Mays vii 1 3 23 25 27 35 39 41 43 45 47 53 61 65 69 73 v ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 PART II Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 PART III Chapter 28 SCHOLARSHIP Introduction David E. James 89 Scarlet Woman on Film: Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and The Wormwood Star: Kenneth Anger, Curtis Harrington, Marjorie Cameron, and Los Angeles Alternative Film and Culture in the Early 1950s Alice Hutchison 91 Against Transparency: Jonas Mekas, Vernon Zimmerman, and the West Coast Contribution to the New American Cinema Josh Guilford 101 Vicarious Vicario: Restocking John Vicario’s Forgotten Shoppers Market (1963) 115 Ken Eisenstein Raymond Rohauer and the Society of Cinema Arts (1948–1962): Giving the Devil His Due Tim Lanza 129 For Love and/or Money: Exhibiting Avant-Garde Film in Los Angeles 1960–1980 Alison Kozberg 141 Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles: Reinventing the Real of Cinema Ross Lipman 163 Taylor Mead, a Faggot in Venice Beach in 1961 Marc Siegel 175 Ed Ruscha’s Moving Pictures Matt Reynolds 187 Asco’s Super-8 Cinema and the Specter of Muralism Jesse Lerner 203 Inner-city Symphony: Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification Veena Hariharan 215 Not Just a Day Job: Experimental Filmmakers and the Special Effects Industry in the 1970s and 1980s Julie Turnock 227 Storm, Stress, and Structure: The Collaborative Cinema of Roberta Friedman and Grahame Weinbren Juan Carlos Kase 241 Nun Notes and Deviant Longings Erika Suderburg 259 Currents Direct and Alternating: Water and Power and Other Works by Pat O’Neill Grahame Weinbren 271 SCREENINGS Alternative Projections Screenings Series Adam Hyman Program Notes Notes on the Contributors Index vi 287 291 319 323 Acknowledgements Acknowledgements ringing this book to completion has involved the efforts of many people, most fundamentally the writers of the various contributions to it, but especially our publisher, John Libbey. Without the initiative and generosity of his intervention, the work of the rest of us would not have reached this fruition. For financial assistance for publication, we thank Los Angeles Filmforum and the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. For manuscript preparation we thank Dr. Ken Provencher. B For permission to reprint texts, the editors wish to thank the following: Robert Pike, “A Letter from the West Coast”, Film Culture 14 (November 1957), provided courtesy of Anthology Film Archives, All Rights Reserved; Maya Deren, “Amateur vs. Professional ,” Film Culture 39 (Winter 1965), 45–46, provided courtesy of Anthology Film Archives, All Rights Reserved; John Fles, “Personal State Meant”, and Seeing Is Believing, © and courtesy of Michael Fles; John Fles, “Are Movies Junk”, Film Culture 29 (Summer 1963), provided courtesy of Anthology Film Archives, All Rights Reserved; Curtis Harrington, “A Statement”. Film Culture 29 (Summer 1963), provided courtesy of Anthology Film Archives, All Rights Reserved; Jack Hirschman, “Los Angeles Film Festival”, Film Culture 32 (September 1964), provided courtesy of Anthology Film Archives, All Rights Reserved; Kevin Thomas, “Underground Movies Rise to the Surface”, © 1967, Los Angeles Times, Reprinted with permission; Gene Youngblood, “Students Reflect Future of Cinema”, © and courtesy of Gene Youngblood; Chick Strand, “Woman as Ethnographic Filmmaker”, © and courtesy of University Film and Video Association; Peter Mays, Mouse Enigma, © and courtesy of Peter Mays. For permissions to reproduce photographs and other material, the editors wish to thank the following: cover illustration including film strip from Foregrounds, © and courtesy of Pat O’Neill; photograph of Stephanie Sapienza and Adam vii ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 Hyman at the announcement of the Pacific Standard Time initiative, March 2009, © and courtesy of Adam Hyman; announcement postcard, Alternative Projections symposium, © and courtesy of “Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative, University of Southern California”; photograph of principal organizers, Alternative Projections symposium, © and courtesy of Andrew Hall/Los Angeles Filmforum; Filmforum, first calendar, © and courtesy of Terry Cannon and Filmforum; front page preview edition, Los Angeles Free Press, courtesy of David E. James; composite photograph, “Bob Pike Photographs Fred Leitsinger for Pike’s Film, Desire in a Public Dump (1958)”, © and courtesy of the iotaCenter; photograph of Chick Strand, © and courtesy of estate of Chick Strand; filmstrip, Death of the Gorilla, © and courtesy of Peter Mays; film frames from To L.A. . . . With Lust by Vernon Zimmerman, courtesy of Anthology Film Archives and The Film-Makers’ Cooperative; Hollis Frampton’s “Chili Bean Brand Blue Boys” from his By Any Other Name – Series 1 (1979), © Estate of Hollis Frampton; photograph of John Vicario at the screening of Shoppers Market at the Cinefamily, © Adam Hyman/Filmforum; photograph of the Coronet Theatre by Danny Rouzer, © and courtesy of Janet B. Rouzer; Society of Cinema Arts calendars produced by the late Raymond Rohauer, © and courtesy of Douris UK Ltd (In Administration); photograph of Stan Brakhage and Raymond Rohauer, © and courtesy of Douris UK Ltd (In Administration); photograph of Terry Cannon, © and courtesy of Judith Gordon; all photographs of The Exiles’s production reproduced courtesy of Milestone Film & Video and © 1961 Kent Mackenzie; all images from Ed Ruscha’s All the Buildings on Sunset Strip, © Ed Ruscha Studios, courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery; photographs of “Willie F. Herrón III and Gronk in front of the Black and White Mural, Estrada Courts housing project, Boyle Heights”, “Instant Mural”, and “Death of Fashion”, all © and courtesy of Harry Gamboa, Jr.; photograph “Unused explosion for Star Wars by Adam Beckett”, © and courtesy of the iotaCenter; photographs of Nancy Angelo, Kate Horsfield, and Candace Compton Pappas, Summer Video Program, Woman’s Building, Los Angeles, 1976 by Sheila Ruth, courtesy of and © Woman’s Building Image Archive, Otis College of Art and Design; photograph of Nancy Angelo’s “Sister Angelica Furisosa” performance persona 1977, courtesy of and © Woman’s Building Image Archive, Otis College of Art and Design; photograph of Mark Toscano working on film preservation at the Academy Film Archive, courtesy of Todd Wawrychuk and © A.M.P.A.S.; photographs of attendees at Alternative Projections screenings 10 October 2011, 3 December 2011, 8 January 2012, 7 January 2012, and 11 March 2012, © and courtesy of Adam Hyman. viii Foreword Foreword Adam Hyman Los Angeles Filmforum Executive Director and Alternative Projections Project Supervisor hen I originally received a phone call from Rani Singh of the Getty Research Institute in early 2008 about the Getty’s imminent “On the Record” initiative, which would entail grants to organizations for archival and research activities on the history of artistic practice in Los Angeles, I knew that Los Angeles Filmforum had to take part. Filmforum, extant since 1975, is the city’s longest-running organization dedicated to artist-driven, noncommercial experimental film and video art. Such practice isn’t normally included in the art spaces of galleries and museums, but it has been a vital part of the story of art in this city of film. But I also had no idea of what our project might include, as I had sent an email to the board members of Filmforum on 8 April 2008, that included a simple question: “As far as I can tell, it needs to relate to LA Art 1945–1980. Do any of you have ideas for a research or archival project that might fit … ?” W Within a week, we mustered together a letter of interest that spelled out our grand ideas: a symposium that would “include panel discussions, presentations, and screenings”, “a gallery show”, “a new publication”, screenings, and oral histories. Although a great amount changed in the following years, it seems remarkable to me, looking at that correspondence for the first time in six years, how closely we ended up hewing to our original dreams. We named our project Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945–1980, a multi-faceted exploration of film and video created outside the Hollywood and independent narrative spheres. I’d like to thank The Getty Foundation and its leadership, particularly Deborah Marrow, Joan Weinstein, and Nancy Micklewright, for giving us the opportunity 1 ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 to make all of this happen as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 (as “On the Record” was eventually renamed). One key element of Alternative Projections was a symposium, a fantastic three-day event held at the School of Cinematic Arts at University of Southern California from 12–14 November 2010, made possible by the School’s commitment to the project and by USC’s “Visions and Voices” initiative. Sixteen papers were presented in two days, along with screenings and open discussions. The majority of these papers have been expanded and refined to create the book that you now hold, in the section called “Scholarship”. These papers are preceded by multiple historical writings to give readers and scholars both a single resource for primary works and a deeper sense of the development of artists’ cinematic practice in Los Angeles over thirty-five years. From the start we intended to create a database and a set of resources that would be useful to all future scholars. We don’t know of anything else like it in the artist film world, combining oral histories, film descriptions, biographies, scans of images, and more. The database and website are live and elaborate, but also ongoing projects. We invite you to use it as a resource, to explore, and it is open for more contributions. It can be found at All this scholarly work was designed to support our exhibition, a screening series over the course of 2011–2012, as part of the larger Pacific Standard Time initiative. We originally proposed sixteen programs, but ended up doing twentyeight. The large final section of this volume lists these programs and the works screened, while the website gives fuller details. An additional grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was also essential to the exhibition series, and I’d like to thank Pamela Clapp, James Bewley, and Jackie Farrell at the Warhol for their support. Programmers, filmmakers, projectionists, distributors, and volunteers all gave us tremendous support to make the series possible. The website contains further thanks and acknowledgements to everyone who made Alternative Projections possible, more than I have room to include here. The screening series concluded in May 2012, along with the other Pacific Standard Time exhibitions. But Alternative Projections, the project, continues, as we add to our database, discover new films, and make it all available to everyone interested. We believe that these films are great art and need to be seen, and we hope that everyone who sees them might carry away some of our enthusiasm. Thank you for taking a chance on these unconventional and noncommercial works of art. We invite you to share with us the delights of thirty-five years of artists’ cinema from Los Angeles. 2 Introduction Introduction David E. James lternative Projections: Experimental Film in LA 1945–1980, the project documented and elaborated here, resulted from the initiative and energy of a few individuals working with several diverse institutions in the city. Primary among the individuals were Adam Hyman and Stephanie Sapienza, who at the time of the project’s inception were, respectively, executive director and board president of the Los Angeles Filmforum, an independent film screening organization founded as the Pasadena Filmforum in 1975.1 As well as Filmforum itself, the institutions included the Getty Foundation and its Pacific Standard Time (PST) project, and the University of Southern California’s (USC’s) School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and its “Visions and Voices” program. Though some ancillary funds were provided by SCA and Filmforum, the present volume was made possible only by the generosity of its contributors and especially of an independent British publisher, John Libbey, who undertook it after it had been rejected by a dozen US university presses. Its production, then, recapitulates the individual initiative and commitment of the kind that has sustained the centurylong history of independent cinema in the city. The greatest era of that cinema is traced here in the accounts by and of specific filmmakers, curators, scholars, and administrators, and in the record of the screening series that forms its conclusion. The belatedness of this book’s appearance, on the other hand, and the fact that it could only find a publisher on the other side of the globe and in another continent, testifies to the resistance still faced by the kind of cinema with which it is concerned, especially in the city that was historically the medium’s capital. A Since the earliest attempts “to paint the movie red” in 1913,2 the precariousness and marginality of all non-commodity filmmaking have always been extreme in Los Angeles, and are so especially now when forced to sail between the Scylla of what has become a monstrously inflated artworld, and the Charybdisian whirlpool of the corporate media industries. Both of these sustain massive capital 3 ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 investment and hence possess an equivalent social authority, while experimental film’s inability to valorize capital has made it primarily an amateur pursuit. Indeed, Maya Deren, whose film Meshes of the Afternoon, made in Los Angeles in 1943, and which initiated and inspired the postwar US avant-garde, defined her conception of the medium in exactly these terms in her essay (reprinted below), “Amateur Versus Professional”: filmmaking undertaken for love against filmmaking for money. Given Hollywood’s primacy in, if not dominance over, global culture of all kinds during the twentieth century, her formulation indicates the radical importance of any practice of cinema that is inassimilable into the productive system of capital and its ideological force field. Besieged, importuned, and immediately framed – if also frequently inspired – by Hollywood, experimental filmmaking in Los Angeles may consequently claim a paradigmatic significance; undertaken at the center of industrial culture, it is the prototypical practice of resistance to it and the inauguration of emancipatory possibilities. To this extent, all those individuals and groups who between 2009 and 2014 worked to realize the various components of Alternative Projections played a part in experimental film’s utopian project. Alternative Projections According to the J. Paul Getty Trust’s own report, the PST project originated around the turn of the millennium, when scholars there perceived the danger that the historical record of the city’s avant-garde art might be lost.3 After almost a decade of preparation, in 2007 the Getty Foundation announced a competition for nearly one million dollars’ worth of grants of between $50,000 and $250,000 each for “the collaborative research and planning of scholarly exhibitions related to the history of postwar art in the Los Angeles area”, a project at that time called “On the Record: Art in L.A. 1945–1980”.4 Though Filmforum had not previously been on the Getty’s radar, Rani Singh, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Contemporary Art & Architecture at the Getty Research Institute and also director of the Harry Smith Archives, alerted Hyman to the announcement. A documentary filmmaker, Hyman had also been Filmforum’s director since 2003, after serving as volunteer and then de facto house manager of the organization since 1996. Founded as a non-profit film society in 1975 by the then twenty-one year old Terry Cannon, the Pasadena Filmforum had variously prospered and barely survived under a variety of administrations, and had held screenings at a variety of locations in Los Angeles. Hyman had shown himself to be an unusually capable, ambitious, and imaginative programmer of avant-garde and other non-commercial films, reviving Film4 Introduction forum’s fortunes. In 2002 Filmforum found a regular home for its screenings at the American Cinematheque’s restored Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Sapienza, the Assistant Director of the iotaCenter (a Los Angeles public benefit, non-profit arts organization founded in 1994 with a special commitment to abstract film, animation, and experimental films from West Coast artists), had recently completed her MA degree in the Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) program at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and was eager to find a project on which to employ her skills. Contacted by Sapienza, Dr. Nancy Micklewright, Senior Program Officer at the Foundation, responded enthusiastically, and invited her and Hyman to apply. With Singh advising on the formulation of the historical recovery component of their project, Hyman and Sapienza consulted with Cannon and a dozen other interested filmmakers, programmers, and scholars, and on 13 April 2008, Hyman submitted the requested preliminary letter of inquiry for a Research and Planning Grant in the amount of $150,000. Filmforum’s project was deemed eligible, and in her invitation to submit a formal application, Micklewright also made suggestions: the addition of art historians who would contribute both to the proposal and to a future catalogue publication; the fiscal sponsorship of some organization larger than Filmforum itself as an intermediary to distribute the funds, possibly the USC or the UCLA art department; and an increase in my role.5 With the assistance of Elizabeth Hesik (a filmmaker and professional grant writer who had accepted an invitation to join Filmforum’s board and to assist in their general search for funding), Hyman and Sapienza assembled a research team, obtained commitments from a dozen scholars to write essays, and submitted an extremely sophisticated fourteen-page application for the Exhibition and Planning Grant, whose summary objective was “to expand understanding of how experimental filmmaking evolved in Los Angeles”.6 Along with Hyman and Sapienza, respectively Project Supervisor and Project Director, the team was comprised of myself (Coordinator – Film History), Russell Ferguson, Chair of the UCLA Department of Art (Coordinator – Art History), Mark Toscano, a film preservationist at the Academy Film Archives (Archival Coordinator); three people with connections to previous Los Angeles independent cinema organizations, namely Angelina Pike (Creative Film Society), Cannon (Filmforum), and Amy Halpern (Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis); and George Baker, another UCLA art historian. The objectives of the research and planning phase of the project were: (a) to collect existing information about films, artists, curators, and organizations from the archives of five selected organizations, as well as other repositories with relevant textual information; (b) to record a series of oral histories with filmmakers and curators about their 5 ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 Figure 1. Stephanie Sapienza and Adam Hyman at the announcement of the Pacific Standard Time Initiative, March 2009. experiences during this time period; (c) to hold a research symposium with focused, topicspecific panels and paper presentations, which will be videotaped and archived along with the oral histories; and (d) to locate lost or forgotten avant-garde films which have not been screened in Los Angeles for many years, or are languishing in the homes or storage units of the filmmakers and their families, and to negotiate their deposit at an archival repository so they can be made available for research. All these were understood as preliminary to the primary goal, a film screening series to take place between September 2011 and June 2012, roughly in tandem with the many exhibitions of the overall initiative, eventually renamed as Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles, 1945–1980. They were to be accompanied by the creation of a complementary exhibition catalogue in the forms of both a printed document and a downloadable on-line PDF, and the inclusion of scholarly and related articles and resources about the films screened on Filmforum’s recently-updated website. On 28 October 2008, the J. Paul Getty Trust announced that Filmforum was one of fifteen organizations selected to receive a grant in their nearly $2.8 million awarded in an overall project that would “launch an unprecedented series of concurrent exhibitions at museums throughout Southern California highlighting the post-World War II Los Angeles art scene”.7 All the organizations were given three years to research and plan for their exhibitions. This was not the first time that Filmforum had undertaken an ambitious program of historical recovery. In 1994, Executive Director Jon Stout had produced a festival, Scratching the Belly of the Beast: Cutting Edge Media in Los Angeles, 6 Introduction 1922–94, consisting of six weeks of screenings and panel discussions.8 But certainly it was the most ambitious, and Hyman and Sapienza’s acuity, expertise – and audacity – had returned big rewards. Filmforum, whose annual operating budget at the time was a meager $20,000, was elevated to the ranks of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and other corporately-funded municipal behemoths. And on 24 April 2009, Sapienza issued a Filmforum press release announcing an award of $118,000, and summarizing the projects enumerated in the grant application.9 Meeting quarterly at the Academy of Motion Pictures, the research team advised and assisted Hyman and Sapienza, who commenced to coordinate the recording and transcription of the oral histories, to hire and oversee the researchers undertaking the archival projects, and to plan the research symposium. The title Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in LA 1945–1980 was adopted, and a further application to the Getty for an Exhibition and Publication Grant was prepared. For this application, the project was fine-tuned: the time frame for the films to be screened was extended; collaborations with other screening venues, including MOCA and the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), were announced; and publication plans were now specified as a grouping of some of the more developed scholarly pieces in a clustered journal volume, along with a media-rich web publication, distinct in form and branding from Filmforum’s standard website, for which additional database editors had been added to the team. For the film series and this online publication, in early 2010 the Getty awarded Filmforum an additional $65,000. Despite – or perhaps because of – the project leaders’ immoderate ambition, their goals were almost entirely fulfilled. When the planning was all-but-complete, Sapienza left Los Angeles, but with Hesik taking over as Project Director, thirty-three oral histories, most of them with filmmakers but others with curators and journalists, were recorded on video, and many are now available on-line and/or have been transcribed.10 Researchers were hired to build an archive of resources to serve future generations of scholars, leading to the creation of a searchable, internet-accessible database of information about local films, filmmakers, exhibitions, and arts organizations.11 Initially hired to cull from multiple archives to create a comprehensive exhibition history, Alison Kozberg assumed the role of Head Researcher after Sapienza’s departure, and collaborated with web designers and a team of generous volunteers to prepare the research for internet publication. Curated primarily by Hyman and Toscano, the screening series presented some three hundred films and videos (many of them restored by 7 ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 Toscano) in twenty-eight programs between October 2011 and May 2012, some of them in collaboration with MOCA, Otis College of Art and Design, and other participants in the PST program.12 The three-day research symposium had been held a year earlier in fall 2010, with most of the revised academic presentations and other materials at last assembled in the present volume constituting a form of the promised exhibition catalogue. These last two items were made possible by the co-operation of USC. Although the Getty had initially demanded that Filmforum secure a partnership with a larger institutional fiscal sponsor, Sapienza and Hyman were unable to work with UCLA on account of the university’s insistence on a reimbursementbased financial arrangement. Because this would have required a level of financial fluidity that was impossible for an organization as small as Filmforum, Sapienza was able to convince the Getty to make an exception to its normal procedures, and, in a remarkable gesture of confidence in the relatively tiny organization, it eventually relented and supplied the grant funds directly to Filmforum.13 But Filmforum did eventually secure the collaboration of two USC institutions: the School of Cinematic Arts and Visions and Voices, a university-wide arts and humanities initiative.14 Though USC’s moving image program was best known for its affiliations with the film and television industries, it also had a history of relations with the avant-garde. As SCA’s Dean Elizabeth Daley noted in her welcome to the conference, the statue of Douglas Fairbanks in the courtyard of the first of the school’s imposing new buildings donated by George Lucas appropriately figured the Hollywood connections. But, she continued, the school’s personnel had also included Slavko Vorkapich, one of the makers of one of the very first and most important American avant-garde films, Life and Death of 9413 – A Hollywood Extra (1928), and her predecessor as chair from 1949 to 1951 of what was then the film department; and its students included Gregory Markopoulos and Curtis Harrington in one era, Thom Andersen and Morgan Fisher in another – and more recently, Hyman himself. Dean Daley made the school’s resources freely available, including the Norris Cinema Theater and other projection facilities and conference rooms, along with the necessary staffing. Under its managing director, Daria Yudacufski, Visions and Voices had already featured a spectrum of theatrical productions, music and dance performances, and film screenings, along with talks and presentations by artists and other speakers; it had been especially hospitable to vanguardist projects, including a few years earlier a festival of poetry and film. With a $20,000 grant from Visions and Voices, the symposium became a possibility, and, organized primarily by Hyman, Sapienza, Cannon, and myself, it was finally scheduled for the weekend of 12–14 November 2010.15 8 Introduction Figure 2. Announcement postcard, Alternative Projections symposium. 9 ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 For the opening, Cannon curated several large vitrines containing historic posters, photographs, filmmaking artifacts, catalogues, and original artwork. These were stationed in the SCA building lobby, while the gallery contained “Side Phase Drift 1965”, a restored abstract three-screen performance projection by John Whitney Jr., which was composed of sets of images that were manipulated in form, color, superimposition, and time. After the welcoming reception, the first evening, Friday, was given over to screenings in the Eileen Norris Cinema Theater of several of the seldom-seen films to be discussed in the scholarly panels, which began the next day.16 Sapienza’s call for papers had netted more than thirty proposals from scholars throughout the US, and one from as far away as Germany. Sapienza, Hyman, and the other members of the team had selected sixteen of these for presentation on four panels: three, respectively entitled, “Shoppers’ Market: Exhibition, Distribution, and Canonization”; “Subcultures Scene and Seen”; and “Blurred Boundaries: Outside/Insider Filmmaking and Group Identities”, on the second day; and on the third and last day, the fourth, “High Concepts: Cross Section of Art and Film”. The second, Saturday, evening was given over to the present members of the recently reconstituted light show, the Single Wing Turquoise Bird: Amy Halpern, Shayne Hood, Larry Janss, David Lebrun, Peter Mays, and Michael Scroggins gathered in a panel moderated by Adam Hyman. As well as reminiscing about the Bird and announcing upcoming performances, they screened old and new work by the group, and films by the individual members.17 After the fourth panel in the morning, the afternoon of the last day was devoted to the Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis, a screening collective organized by filmmakers from 1976 to 1981. Present for the panel moderated by Cannon were Oasis members Grahame Weinbren, Pat and Beverly O’Neill, Amy Halpern, Roberta Friedman, Morgan Fisher, and Tom Leeser.18 Taking place in the heart of the capital of commodity culture, this congress of filmmakers, curators, scholars, and other interested people was, along with the other research components of the overall initiative, an unprecedented occasion for the retrieval of the history of non-commodity cinema in Los Angeles, a moment of freedom secured amidst – but against – alienation.19 Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945–1980 In 1943, at his apartment studio at 1245 Vine Street in Hollywood, Man Ray made a short 8mm home movie for which he and his new wife filmed each other as they informally hammed for the camera. His film Juliet was at once a recapitulation of the interactive surrealist cinema that he and Dudley Murphy had pioneered in Paris in the photography of their respective lovers for the avant-garde classic Ballet mécanique (1924) and an anticipation the use of the 10 Introduction Figure 3. Principal organizers, Alternative Projections symposium (left to right): Terry Cannon, Stephanie Sapienza, Adam Hyman, and David E. James. same trope in underground films – Stan Brakhage’s Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959), for instance. It also echoed the foundational and perhaps most seminal film of the American avant-garde made the same year three miles away, also in Hollywood, and also a collaboration by two newlyweds who photographed each other: Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid’s Meshes of the Afternoon. Meshes, too, had echoes of the Parisian avant-garde, especially of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s Un chien Andalou (1929), as well as of surrealist interludes in classic Hollywood films, including Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. (1924); and, as in Juliet, in Meshes the main author played the main protagonist. In this, as well as in its use of multiple subjective narratives, it recalled the most celebrated US art film, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, which was released two years earlier by RKO, a little more than a mile from Man Ray’s apartment. Spatially and temporally proximate, and linked by common structuring formal characteristics, these three films also limned the spectrum of possible modes of production for the subsequent art of film in Los Angeles. This variable gear articulated the pull between Deren’s “amateur” and “professional” practices: at one extreme, Welles’s unprecedented auteurist control over the industrial studio, not matched till the doyens of the 1970s “New Hollywood”; on the other, Man Ray’s jeu d’esprit, made sheerly for pleasure and with recourse to only the most minimal domestic form of the cinematic apparatus; and between them, Deren’s 11

Author Adam Hyman and David E. James Isbn 9780861967155 File size 5MB Year 2015 Pages 320 Language English File format PDF Category Art Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980 is a groundbreaking anthology that features papers from a conference and series of film screenings on postwar avant-garde filmmaking in Los Angeles sponsored by Filmforum, the Getty Foundation, and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, together with newly-commissioned essays, an account of the screening series, reprints of historical documents by and about experimental filmmakers in the region, and other rare photographs and ephemera. The resulting diverse and multi-voiced collection is of great importance, not simply for its relevance to Los Angeles, but also for its general discoveries and projections about alternative cinemas.     Download (5MB) Made in California – Art, Image and Identity 1900-2000 Women And The Arts: Dialogues In Female Creativity L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema Everybody Had an Ocean: Music and Mayhem in 1960s Los Angeles Assigning Cultural Values Load more posts

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