Wavelengths 2: Notes on The Archive

by Paddy Johnson on September 9, 2012 TIFF

Watching Lillian Schwartz’s UFOs in 3D last night made me very happy. It was the closing film at TIFF’s second night of Wavelengths screenings at The Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackson Hall, and the highlight so far. Schwartz was one of the first to use computer code to create videos as art, and the work—made in 1971 at Bell Labs—still looks amazing.

This particular piece is said to have the effect of uncrossing crossed eyes for short periods of time, though it’s unclear if this works with the glasses we were given at the screening. (The original piece, as far as I can tell, was viewed without them.)

I have to hand it to Curator Andrea Picard for putting together a film program last night with such a cohesive set of conceptual and formal qualities. The evening’s films all fit the theme of the archive in some way, from Mary Helena Clark‘s hidden cinematic figures to the Stan Brakhage-inspired films of Luther Price.

As critics, we’re taught not to use the word “beautiful” because it is subjective enough to be meaningless, but it’s hard to think of a better word to describe Luther Price’s “Handmade 35mm Glass Slides”. It’s nice to just look for pleasure sometimes.

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