UnionDocs invites you to the closeding reception of Kinetoscopic Records, presented by Peephole Cinema and programmed by Dan Streible (NYU / Orphan Film Symposium) on Friday, September 18 from 5pm – 7pm.
Peephole Cinema exhibitions showcase contemporary media artists while also evoking the proto- and early cinema experiences of the peep show. This UnionDocs program, Kinetoscopic Records, invites a collision of the old and new, the earliest movies and born-digital works. The ten pieces replicate qualities of the earliest film shows, an incongruous variety of kinetic, flickery, silent pictures in motion, each less than a minute long.
This program’s inspiration is the recent rebirth of one of the first motion pictures ever made, Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, January 7, 1894 (aka Fred Ott’s Sneeze). Although its copyrighted images appeared in print in 1894, the Sneeze was not seen in motion until reanimated on 16mm film in 1953. However, only now has the entire recording been reproduced. The new Library of Congress version reveals The Sneeze to be nearly twice as long as presumed, with Mr. Ott sneezing twice in one unedited take. This is its premier public run.
The ten movies in five minutes are:
W. K.-L. Dickson, Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze
Evan Meaney, Re_Sneeze
Jodie Mack, All Stars
Joel Schlemowitz, The Invention of the Gramophone
Danielle Ash, Creature of the Gowanus
Tom Whiteside & Anna Kipervaser, Ott Gotcha
Andrea Callard, Something Medical
Bill Brand, Ornithology 4
Mono No Aware, Sneezes
Bill Morrison, Dancing Decay
Three new pieces derive directly from the Sneeze. Evan Meaney takes the new version and digitally explodes its halftone printing. Tom Whiteside (who actually collects film prints of Fred Ott’s Sneeze) and Anna Kipervaser create a 16mm found footage jest, while the Mono No Aware collective made a pilgrimage-homage, traveling to the Edison Historic Site in New Jersey to shoot Sneezes on black-and-white 16mm film inside the Black Maria building.
Two others works, also born on celluloid, reference the era of early cinema. Joel Schlemowitz shot black-and-white film for his Mélièsian féerie about the Kinetoscope’s exact contemporary, the gramophone. Bill Morrison’s uncanny piece of decaying nitrate 35mm film reveals dancers (a frequent Kinetoscope subject) dancing in a pink cobweb of swirling emulsion. (It too came from the Library of Congress, but from its discard bin.)
The remaining pieces deliver a variety of arresting images for the peep show viewing context. Jodie Mack’s cameraless animation stars rapid-fire geometric forms, while fellow animator Danielle Ash creates an ethereal aerial view of an imagined Brooklyn, lit up by lengthy exposures of thousands of pinholes. Bill Brand’s dual-layered duel of abstraction and HD realism pushes the kinetic accelerator even further with a traveling matte that flutters over every frame. The medical imaging technology put to use in Andrea Callard’s memento mori piece pulls in yet another direction, a reminder that early cinema combined optical toys and scientific devices.
Peephole Cinema Brooklyn is part of a “miniature cinema” collective with satellite projects in three cities: San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. In each location, silent film shorts are screened 24/7 through a dime-sized peephole installed in a public location.
Hearkening back to the peep show or raree show—a closed box with at least one peephole revealing a hidden “view”—which was a popular form of entertainment throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Peephole Cinema plays on age-old tensions between public and private, authorized viewing and voyeurism, seeing and being seen.
Peephole Cinema Brooklyn is located on the façade of UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art in Williamsburg. Films will change about every two months.
For more information please go to http://www.peepholecinema.com