In 1966, at the height of minimal art in New York, artist Michael Snow chose not to make another object to be placed in a room but instead spent a year planning a film of a room: Wavelength, a forty-five-minute more or less straight-line zoom from the near to the far wall of a loft space, accompanied by a rising sine wave.
“My eye, tuning towards the imaginary, will go to any wavelengths for its sights.”
Stan Brakhage in Metaphors On Vision
“Wavelength was shot in one week in December ’66 preceded by a year of notes, thoughts, mutterings. It was edited and the first print was seen in May ’67. I wanted to make a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings and aesthetic ideas. I was thinking of, planning for a time monument in which the beauty and sadness of equivalence would be celebrated, thinking of trying to make a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of ‘illusion’ and ‘fact’, all about seeing. The space starts at the camera’s (spectator’s) eye, is in the air, then is on the screen, then is within the screen (the mind). The film is a continuous zoom which takes 45 minutes to go from its widest field to its smallest and final field. It was shot with a fixed camera from one end of an 80 foot loft, shooting the other end, a row of windows and the street .... The room (and the zoom) are interrupted by four human events including a death. The sound on these occasions is sync sound, music and speech, occurring simultaneously with an electronic sound, a sine-wave .... It is a total glissando while the film is a crescendo and a dispersed spectrum which attempts to utilize the gifts of both prophecy and memory which only film and music have to offer.”
“There is a metaphor recurrent in contemporary discourse on the nature of consciousness: that of cinema. And there are cinematic works which present themselves as analogues of consciousness in its constitutive and reflexive modes, as though inquiry into the nature and processes of experience had found in this century’s art form, a striking, a uniquely direct presentational mode. The illusionism of the new, temporal art reflects and occasions reflection upon, the conditions of knowledge; it facilitates a critical focus upon the immediacy of experience in the flow of time.”
“The cool kick of Michael Snow’s Wavelength was in seeing so many new actors – light and space, walls, soaring windows, and an amazing number of color-shadow variations that live and die in the window panes – made into major esthetic components of movie experience.”
“A seminal work of the new avant-garde and unquestionably one of the most iconoclastic and original experiments of the 60s. This hypnotic, 45 minute long film consists entirely of one continuous, almost imperceptible zoom movement which traverses the length of the 80-foot New York loft. During this time, four tiny ‘human events’, none longer than a minute, occur in front of the camera (such as two people walking in), the rest is painful (to minds attuned to Hollywood plots) poetic contemplation that turns into reverie. A perfect example of the cinema of stillness, it weaves its charms so subtly that those who come to scoff remain transfixed. A speculation on the essence of the medium and, inevitably, of reality, the real protagonist of this film is the room itself, the private life of a world without man, the sovereignty of objects and physical events. The film is accompanied by a steadily growing electronic sound – created by the rising pitch of an oscillator working against the 60-cycle hum of an amplifier – which finally reaches an unbearable level; to Snow, the glissando of this oscillator sine wave is the sound equivalent of the camera’s zoom.”
- 1. Michael Snow in “A Statement on Wavelength for the Experimental Film Festival of Knokke-Le-Zoute”.
- 2. Annette Michelson, “Toward Snow,” Artforum, Summer 1971. Retrieved from Artforum website.
- 3. Manny Farber, Negative Space. Manny Farber on the Movies (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1971), 256.
- 4. Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art (New York: Random House, 1974), 135.
A balance of being enclosed in divided space.
“The sliding of facades and rooms, like scenery, through various axes, in various levels of multiple exposure together with entrances and exits of a person. Landscape exists only as a view through windows and doors. Individual shots stand in opposition to each other, modify themselves, or dissolve altogether into other pictures. Side by side with erupting pictures, images that collide and pile up, there are fragments of spaces/rooms and time sequences, attraction, fusion and repulsion of the various halves of the film image, with the purpose of creating a sensual topology. These are the main formal elements of the chosen film language. One picture devours the next.”
"Going beyond both the purely personal and merely formalistic, her work thwarts the logics of her contemporaries in its intimate and highly enigmatic poetics which are inextricably linked to a meta-filmic exploration of the moving image, the properties of celluloid film and of modes of perception. In her films, one can observe the constantly evolving examination of the geometric conditions of the projection surface through a filmic reality that is experienced and captured foremost as image(s) unfolding in multilayered tableaus that occupy a state in-between opaqueness and translucency, hypnosis and clarity. Rhythmic counter-plays between depth and surface, stillness and motion, planes and phantoms, multiple frames and picture-in-pictures all function "to create new architectures of old forms” (Dore O.). As in no other work within German experimental cinema, her striking films retrace an historical trajectory in which painterly, graphic and poetic conceptions of the medium are made-over into distinctly cinematic terms that eventually serve as a means for exploring new modes of subjectivity and states of consciousness. The highly musical and hypnotic nature of these pictorial stratifications, in combination with radical soundscapes, are carried over into her later works of the 1990s."
« Après le très beau Blonde Barbarei, Dore O. reprend, en une oeuvre moins synthétique qu'antithétique, le thème de la claustration et de l’ouverture. Kaskara oppose la fenêtre issue, promesse d’espace et de paix, ouvrant sur la campagne et les multiples petits travaux d’une quotidienneté heureuse, filmée de l'intérieur et en couleurs -, à la fenêtre urbaine, fermée ou brisée, sans perspective, ne faisant que renvoyer le reflet des vitrines ou des autobus à d'autres fenêtres, fenêtres de HLM, fenêtres soupiraux, filmées de l'extérieur et en noir et blanc. Anthony Moore fournit là encore la bande-son, canon vocal très simple, se justifiant particulièrement dans la longue séquence où, sur l’écran scindé en deux, chaque moitié de l'image, jeu de reflets et de surimpressions, semble reprendre en écho l’autre. »
“Dore O. takes the original material for her films from her private domain, which includes far journeys through strange landscapes [...] Her films are not built on mathematical principles of structure; she creates a flow of image – multi-exposed landscapes and strange cut-in-image metaphors – as a poetic expression of her feelings. She works in the tradition of Brakhage in that she presents reality through the interpretation of her own emotions.”
“Dore O. has become classic, and suddenly it turns out that her work has passed the various currents of time unharmed: the time of the cooperative union, the women's film, the structuralists and grammarians, the teachers of new ways of seeing ... It's time to proclaim loudly that Dore O.’s work is unique in German avant-garde film, since 'Jüm-Jüm' [...] she retains her independence also within independent film.”
Grand Prize at EXPRMNTL/Knokke Experimental Film Festival 1974-75