Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reflecting on a cellophane wrapper

Okay this follow-up post on the second evening of David Rimmer films at the Cinematheque has been far to long in coming but life just kept getting in the way.

For those that missed the the first evening you can catch a small re-cap of Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper and Surfacing on the Thames here, although nowhere near as good as seeing them screened.

Of the evening my favourites of the works I hadn't seen before were Bricolage, Local Knowledge and An Eye for an Eye. Funnily enough these picks were shared with my friend Merlyn who also attended. He is best known for his amazing video feedback work along and as a part of Trypton Media.

Some brief comments on my top three films:
Bricolage - a playful piece made of loops pushed to their extreme highlighting the personalities within the loops and bringing them to the forefront. It reminded me of the French musical duo Drahomira Song Orchestra. Given their sound this could have been hugely influential on them as they really push the loop to the extreme in similar ways. This can especially be heard on the limited to 96 copies CDR "Il Est Exact (Que Je Ne Sors Pas De Ma Maison)"

Local Knowledge - The second big highlight of the evening for me. This film had a lot going on it and is difficult to pin down. I'd definitely benefit and appreciate repeated viewings in order to get the most out of it. From my notes and recollections the film has a dark heavy mood to it and utilizes a lot of motion with gestures which I found to anthropomorphize elements in the frame.

My third favourite and one of his newer films was An Eye for an Eye. His newer work is abstract morphing and very organic animation. It feels like blobs and plants ebbing and flowing together in a most delectible and erotic way.

On to the second evening:

Looks like my instincts were right associating Rimmer with Philip Werren. Upon further inspection of this filmography it appears that Werren soundtracked at least one film of Rimmer's
In talking with Rimmer during the Q&A I asked him how this collaboration came about. His response was something to the effect of that they were just part of the same scene at SFU and it was one of those things that just happened. It was a special time with lots of creative like minded people on the scene.

This evening took on a different feel than the first with two of the films being documentaries clocking in at 40 and 45 minutes. One centred on painter Jack Wise, the other on jazz pianist, visual artist and writer Al Neil.

Of the two I am much more familiar with Al Neil's work and have been listening to his music and read one of his books Changes a while ago. For those that don't know Al has been a very interesting character on the Vancouver scene since the 50's. He was doing some very experimental stuff in the 60's and it's a real inspiration to hear what was going on in Vancouver at the time. He was a founder of the Cellar Jazz Club which in turn brought the likes of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry to town. Those that know me know I am particularly fond of Don Cherry and there's a wonderful interview with Al here relating the happenings of those times. The only other mention I've seen of this is a brief reference to Don Cherry playing one of his earliest gigs in Vancouver is in Black Music by Leroi Jones aka Amiri Baraka.
So all this having been said the film on him was a bit difficult to watch. While I greatly enjoyed the clips of him playing live and him with his objects and sculpture in his Dollarton shack there are interview clips where he appears incoherent and definately at a low point. This film and Langauge of the Brush about Jack Wise are particularly well suited together as Al Neil sought his enlightenement through excess while Jack took a pure approach through clean living and meditation. Despite this fact and ironically Al has superceded him. Jack passed away in November 1996.
Language of the Brush on the other hand was a beautiful film which really highlighted the language of creativity. Exploring abstract and esoteric realms you discover landmarks along the way that only others doing the same work understand and see. He highlights this through his friendship with a Chinese immigrant and master calligrapher who recognizes that Jack has been exploring these areas and has discovered many of these things on his own and thus takes him on as a student. Despite the fact that they spoke little of each other's language they intuitively understood each other through the language of the brush. Recommended and available through the NFB although unfortunately only on VHS.

For more Al Neil info check out these great links:
Jazz Street Vancouver
Vancouver Jazz

And on a final note David Rimmer has been working on his own site which will feature his films available for preview online as well as sales. Not everything is up and running yet but visit it here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

David Rimmer retrospective at the Cinematheque

Screening tomorrow night at the Pacific Cinematheque is the first of two evenings of the films of Canadian experimental filmmaker David Rimmer. The first evening is preceded by a book launch.

evening i

I had the joy of watching Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper a few years ago at the Cinematheque as part of their Summer of Love festival. This little gem works from a piece of appropriated stock footage in which he progressively processes the same loop through sequences of positive and negative variations and optical manipulations. The resulting footage is mezmerizing in it's shifting moods and emotions and the figures and scenes that materialize before your eyes. It progresses to a climax with an apocalyptic feel of a conflagration of fire.

David Rimmer was in attendance that screening so I presume he'll be there again. During the Q & A he related an interesting anecdote of going to the NFB seeking funding to finish the film. He screened what he had to a representative at the NFB, who after watching the film commented that he was the cameraman of the footage that Rimmer had appropriated. In spite of this Rimmer ended up receiving funding for the film.

Another point of note is the music for this was recorded at SFU's Sonic Research Studio very likely using their Moog and Buchla modular systems so this is in interesting point of reference to Vancouver's early electronic music scene.

Of similar note is the work of Philip Werren which was reissued a few years ago on Josh Stevenson's Cast Exotic Archives label.

More thoughts around the second night in the next few days.

Welcome to recording all the noise

So I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now and the time seems right.

Without any clear definition in mind other than a place to put some ramblings and things that I find of interest and hopefully someone out there will too.

There will likely be content about music, film, photography, random philosophy, things I like, things I don't like along with reviews, promotions and reactions to events past and future.

Welcome, hope you enjoy!