Curated by Atelier Impopulaire
Produced by Atelier Impopulaire with the support of O' and Die Schachtel
My earliest projective aspiration was limited to the uninspired drag of a marker across a wall testing the boundary of my reach in a world of technological need and the realism of respectability. Lines scrawled out, either vertical or horizontal, are beautifully suggestive. I am introducing my shows at the Harvard Film Archive in this way because film, a motion picture camera, and the projector were never a part of my original image of myself. Nevertheless, in 1979 I did make a film while studying architecture. That experience was enough to convince me of how little love I had for single frame animation and the company of a motion picture camera perched on a copy stand. While in architecture school I did find joy in working-over a surface and later, after obtaining my professional credentials, began a project to trace a line equal to the earth’s circumference at the equator. My approach was systematic, placing paper on the floor and drawing lines from top to bottom paced by a metronome. By using a standardized sheet size and timing each session I could calculate the distance traveled. What interrupted me was not the drawing but the portfolio of useless paperwork. Each drawing from my flip book was another grotesque snapshot of a stillborn archived, but gratefully withheld from public display. Urged on by the clock work authority, I plotted out intersections transfixed between a subjective activity and an objective referent. I abandoned the project some months later with little headway. My paper conveyance was dry-docked indefinitely.
From the forsaken tidal pools of effort, creatures emerged from the wiffey iridescence of graphite on paper gasping for breath. These electro-mechanical beauties inspired me as workings in a portmanteau cinematograph to be refitted from historical materials and technological properties, but unburdened by previous media. The metronome mated with its correlate-cousin the xenon flash and a little photoelectric transduction love would spawn a draft animal to turn under another serial plain. In 1994, I naively re-domesticated Harold Edgerton’s high speed flash crossing it with Marcel Duchamp’s roto-optics to produce a hopped up phenakistiscopic mule. Stubborn but sturdy, it had no appetite for film and its heritage of historically mongrelized material made it the best means to embark, once again, towards an ideally functioning cinema. My centrifugal mule demonstrated how concept and practical realization can spin out the strengths of structural relations making them more pronounced. Hybridized and mute, the mule could not renounce metaphors or theories of consciousness that celebrate forces between living things and the conversion of matter into energy. It was a reagent in a field of correspondences between the mechanic medium and the human. But the mule, being sterile, was useless for breeding, was played out by plowing and moving heavy loads of artistic baggage and so, in the end, was euthanized.
After this tragedy I went to the movies and while loitering in the primordial gloom of the theater, I was visited by “influencing machines” rattling filmic chains, not to haunt me with them, but to serve as talismans. The anticipatory hush of the audience permitted me to overhear their promise of a world free and clear of the convulsions of overproduction, where mind is energy, raw material and final product. As the trailers began we were plunged into the occlusion of “permanency” contributed by cameras and film. Meanwhile, I was imagining a reign of tangible “hardware” opening fissures within perception. The material aspect of this medium would have formal coordinates determined by an absolute apparatus repeatedly re-defined by any subjectivity that engages with it, creating a perfect version of itself in the process of thinking. The “between” separating simultaneous objective execution and subjective motivation would serially gather sense images setting into motion the conational cinematic dynamo, while at the same time specifically determining it at each use. The connections between subjectively “working” and objective motivation prevent this medium from being reified retaining vitality by the perceptual activity of the audience. At that the credits came on and the movie started. Bruce McClure
Bruce McClure (USA) is an architect living in Brooklyn, NY. In 1994 he began working with stroboscopic discs as an entry to cinematic pursuits. Since 1995 his film and live projector performances have been exhibited at numerous venues and festivals around the world, including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival’s “Views of the Avant-Garde,” the Whitney Biennial, the Walker Art Center, the Wexner Center for the Arts, as well as in the UK, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere. Locally, he has performed at Chicago Filmmakers and at the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago.
March 2 9 pm
via Pastrengo 12