Our mutual friend Lary kicked off Sarah Halpern‘s new Counter Balance series at the reopened silent barn–a monthly series “dedicated to expanding the confines of the film screening to include writing, sound, theater and intermedia.”
The theme of Counter Balance is “expanded cinema” but “structural cinema” would have been a better word for Lary’s screening, which began with a light bulb. Not just any light-bulb — but the light bulb within his film projector. Dimming. (And what is the opposite of “dimming”? Brightening? Flaring?) Flaring.
Dimming and flashing. It flashed. There was a rhythm to the film, a shutter closing on the bulb. Flashes of black. Like a strobe. Lary was taking us inside the camera. Speakers amplified the noise of the projector. Or a projector–were we listening to the projector that contained this bulb? Or the projector that the film was now running in? Or both? (It seemed to be both, since we could hear some of the rhythm of the shutter.)
We could hear the machine and see inside of it, and it was flashing. Lary was hypnotizing us, and leading the audience into a dream together. Flashing faster. Like in a disco or a roller-rink. You could watch the bulb flash with your peripheral vision, and wave your hands in front of your face for flashbacks.
Another image struggled to appear. It was pink and hard to see, and seemed to retreat again to the edge of visibility as darkness or whiteness. Eventually the film stopped and inevitably melted. We were left with pure white hot light burning through the film.
Dream over, I asked Lary “Was that a film of the bulb? Or could we see the bulb?”
He said “It was a film of the bulb. I made it last night… but then the second film didn’t work. There was a fire in the machine and the image just didn’t come through. I had cleaned the lens and the mirror but I guess I didn’t clean them well enough… You know I suffer and struggle with this stuff to try to make something happen. And sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.”
“Yes, it felt like you transported us to this stage where something was supposed to occur. And then it didn’t occur. Like we were at the opera and the soprano doesn’t come to center stage, but rather sings from the curtains at the edge. What was supposed to happen?”
“Well, this is really great film, this high contrast film I used. It’s LPD-4! The second projector was supposed to have another high-contrast black and white film. And then something would happen. It would have been great, these two high-contrast films flickering… But the second film was obscure, so it failed. That happens too, sometimes.”