Experimental Film

Company Line is a film about one of the first predominately Black neighborhoods in Mansfield, Ohio. The title, Company Line, refers to the name historically used by residents to describe their neighborhood, located on the north side of town close to the old steel mill. The Company Line began during the post–war migration of Blacks from the south to the north in the late 1940’s. The neighborhood was purchased in the early 1970s and its residents were scattered throughout Mansfield.

During my stint as an entry-level acquisitions scout at a now-defunct art house distribution company, I amassed a small collection of VHS tapes from a vast pool of unsolicited submissions. By the standards of the art house canon, these were very bad movies, but I adored them for the sincerity of their intention. Bits and pieces of these movies became source material for a number of the videos on this compilation (Teenagers, Hymn Of Reckoning, Fantasy Suite).

Dark Cave, 1998

“His heart was a dark cave filled with sharp toothed, fierce clawed beasts that ran snapping and tearing through his blood. In pain he left the work table and prowled around the room, singing to himself, ‘Who can I be tonight? Who will I be tonight?’”

—Alfred Chester, Exquisite Corpse (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967)

A hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle built on brainwave-generating binaural beats, Deep Sleep takes us on a journey through the sound waves of Gaza to travel between different sights of modern ruin. Restricted from travel to Palestine, I learned auto-hypnosis for the purpose of bi-locating. What results is a journey, recorded on Super 8mm film, to the ruins of ancient civilizations embedded in modern civilization in ruins, to a site ruined beyond evidence of civilization.

Done To, 1974

Done To (alternately titled It Is, Done To) consists of simple still-frames accompanied by a complex, incongrous soundtrack, or silence. There are instances where image and sound coalesce; however, the majority of the images are overwhelmed by the at-times symphonic, at-times cacaphonous soundtrack, displacing the normal film viewing experience. The standard film format of going from frame to frame — and then and then and then — is what this film is concerned with.

Imagine that the camera is possessed with a psychosis similar to human schizophrenia; suppose that this disease subtly changes every single frame of film while leaving the narrative superficially intact. Then imagine that these symptoms came on as a result of the trauma of recording bizarre or horrific events, for instance those of the 1941 horror film Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde...

Adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This title is also available on Paul Bush Pixilated.

Between 1892 and 1927, almost 16 million people came to Ellis Island attempting to immigrate to the United States.

Encounters I May Or May Not Have Had With Peter Berlin deals primarily with monumentality, narcissism and the ways in which our heroes are embedded into our identities, and manifested through the body. Through a variety of gestures, the pervasiveness of this practice is highlighted alongside its ultimate, inevitable failure. The viewer moves through various stages of anxiety, idolization and actual touchdown with 1970s gay sex icon Peter Berlin himself, capturing both the apparent and the hidden.

Endless Dreams and Water Between is a feature film with four fictitious characters sustaining an epistolary exchange in which their “planetary thought” is woven with the physical locations they inhabit, visual and aural characters in themselves: the island of Manhattan, the island of Majorca, in Spain, and the islands and peninsula that form the San Francisco Bay Area. The characters’ reflections and dreams enact what could be described as “an archipelagic mind,” linking worlds, time, and space.

ETC: Experimental Television Center 1969-2009 is a five-DVD box set presenting the electronic media work of over one hundred artists who participated in the Center’s Residency Program during a 40-year period. The collection offers a look at the evolution of the unique artist-designed sound and image tools that are the hallmark of the Center’s studio, and provides a view into the constantly changing artistic processes and practices that have shaped the work over the years.

Fifeville, 2005

Fifeville is a film about a neighborhood in Charlottesville, Virginia. It focuses on the details, gestures, and material life of the citizens of Fifeville as they communicate their understandings of the neighborhood’s changing landscape. Although Fifeville is set in Charlottesville, it could be Any Black Community Experiencing Gentrification, USA, 21st Century.

Co-director: Corey D.B. Walker. Crew: bh103a.

A compilation of five early short films made between 1966 to 1969.

Hand Movie 1966, 6:00, b&w, silent, 8mm

Close-up of a hand, the fingers of which enact a sensuous dance. Camerawork by William Davis.

Volleyball (Foot Film) 1967, 10:00 b&w, silent, 16mm

A volleyball is rolled into the frame and comes to rest. Two legs in sneakers, seen from the knees down, enter the frame and stand beside it. Cut to new angle, same characters and actions. Camerawork by Bud Wirtschafter.

Fluid Frontiers is the fifth and final film in the series entitled The Diaspora Suite, exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation, exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.

The Diaspora Suite

Filmed on location in Harlem (NY) and Ethiopia, Forged Ways oscillates between the first person account of a filmmaker, a man navigating the streets of Harlem, and the day to day life in the cities and villages of Ethiopia.

Shot in the style of a silent film from the 1920s, Frida & Anita is a political fantasy, intersecting the lives of two queer radicals — Frida Kahlo and Anita Berber — who happen to meet one fateful Berlin night in 1924 at the infamous La Garcon Cabaret.

Frida & Anita is the first film in The Surface Tension Trilogy, a three-part short film trilogy looking at queer artists living in Berlin during the 1920s.

“To master the one-minute time span requires considerable discipline, and few pieces, if any, had been shaped as genuine miniatures—most having the appearance of being extracts from larger works. The notable exception was John Smith’s Gargantuan, which was not only the right length for the idea, but actually incorporated a triple pun on the word ‘minute.’”

— Nicky Hamlyn, “One Minute TV 1992”, Vertigo (Spring 1993)

"A wonderfully witty example of how to conduct pillow talk with a small amphibian."

— Elaine Paterson, Time Out London

Shot in black and white Super 8, this lyrical short follows a wandering, disengaged youth through grey afternoons. German Song features the hard-edged music of Come, an alternative band from Boston.

“In The Girl Chewing Gum a commanding voiceover appears to direct the action in a busy London street. As the instructions become more absurd and fantasized, we realize that the supposed director (not the shot) is fictional; he only describes—not prescribes—the events that take place before him. Smith embraced the ‘spectre of narrative’ (suppressed by structural film) to play word against picture and chance against order.

A meditation on the nature of “Nature” and the uncertainty of “Cause and Effect.”

“Originally (like most of my earlier film work) this was a performance piece: text performed alongside the projected image. A complex and absurd ‘story’ about a man who thought there was something wrong with his eye. He goes to the doctor, who can’t help him much, but he finds a way he can operate on himself with uplifting yet troubling results.”

—Jennet Thomas

Super-8 and 8mm, film mattes, painting directly onto film, and model/object animation.

Set between Swaziland and South Africa, in a region still struggling with the divisions produced by an apartheid government, Greetings to the Ancestors documents the dream lives of the territory’s inhabitants as the borders of consciousness dissolve and expand. Equal parts documentary, ethnography and dream cinema, herein is a world whose borders are constantly dematerializing.

A reflection on the phenomenon of the touring musician.

"I shot this film with a 16mm wind-up Bolex, and the 25th Anniversary tour of Dutch band The Ex, when they embarked on a 'convey tour' with about 25 performing comrades. If half the battle is getting there and half the battle is joy, then the other half is madness. I thank all of the musicians who float in and out — of the film, in particular, and my life, in general."

— Jem Cohen

Soundtrack music: Guitargument, an Andy Moor and Mia Clarke improvisation, arranged and edited by Jem Cohen.

Heady, 1994

"Starring an inflatable wig holder that I got at a car boot sale in Bremen, Germany, this film began as a demonstration of different film animation techniques, but evolved into a bizarre improvised narrative in which the head escapes from the violent clutches of a mixed-up model girl, is sent to Poland in a wicker basket, where it has a nice holiday (I took it on holiday to Poland with me and animated it in the countryside), and finally returns on the ferry."

-- Jennet Thomas

Super 8 film, cut-out animation, model and object animation.

A transcription of what I have been told during intimate experiences while separating from my husband. Sections consist of destroyed originals from Leafless (2011), motifs of the "feminine" alluding to Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures (1963) and of reconstruction of a pomegranate. These decorative objects are re-valued through a controlled act of cutting, with an allusion to synchronization. Obscured images clear out while the hand scratched text becomes harder to read with each section.

Hiatus, 1999

Madi plays an interactive on-line computer game in the privacy of her apartment. Wearing a computer corset that stores her programs in a "Garden Interface", she propels her go-go cowgirl construct WANDA through the game world, encountering an assortment of logged-on players and game identities who trick and confuse her. An aggressive male character WANG logs on, and inserts his cold architecture into her coordinates, draining the power in her corset. His expanding architecture threatens to overtake her Garden Reservoir.

Home, 2008

Home is about disappointment in northern Ohio. The scoreboard depicted is on the grounds of Mansfield Senior High. The sentiment conjures the close call.

This title is only available on Broad Daylight and Other Times: Selected Works of Kevin Jerome Everson.