“CHANGING THE SHAPE OF FILM”
A 12′ diameter translucent balloon is suspended from the ceiling. Two 16mm projectors are prepared with light sculpting funnels (curled black paper) for circular projection.
The projectors are not synchronous but the films are closely aligned. On the balloon are staggered multiple images of Bent Time, 1983, a film tracking high energy locations in the U.S. and shot with a 9mm lens to bend the image at the edges of the frames. Time curves, space bends, viewers walk around and lie below to see the visualization of the phenomenon of time curving at the edge of the universe.
Films and film performance by Barbara Hammer (reprised from 1979-1983)
In 1979 I had a dream of Pyramid Lake, Nevada. I dreamed of space, of freeing the rectangular film screen to a more liberated form, of escaping the confines of the frame, the “domestic house”. In AVAILABLE SPACE I push the limits of restriction in eight different sections and eight different ways.
Who determined that film should be projected upon a rectangular white reflective screen? What would happen if this formula were challenged? What if the projector moved and the audience had to move to see the film? AVAILABLE SPACE is a film made for performance on a 360 degree rotary projection table. A woman breaks through confining architectural space, the limited space of a film frame, and the boundaries of a movie screen. Unexpected angles, corners, slants, floor and ceiling are engaged in unexpected play and projection. The sculptural surfaces of the interior of the Hamburger Banhof Aktionsraum are explored asking the audience to leave their seats to see the film.
I am concerned about changing the static, hierarchical nature of the standard film projection and its imposition on the audience in a darkened and distanced theater.
I ask for active audience participation through movement, sound, image making. Can the audience be physically involved with film? The potential of boundaries are confused, change context and create a new relationship between film and spectator suggesting interactive play. Available space explores the relationship of architectural space to image and to the limits of the projector’s beam.
This was the beginning film in a series of attempts to empower, activate, “make blood rush through the veins” of the viewing public.
*This film performance is reprised from 1979 where it screened at A Space, Toronto and in1980 at New Langton Arts, San Francisco and Franklin Furnace, New York City.
BENT TIME, 1983*
A round translucent screen, an inflated weather balloon provides another form for activating the audience. To see the film spectators move around and under the screen. The audience movement creates multiple viewpoints as the image curves and bends. Scientists have noted that light rays curve at the outer edges of the universe leading them to theorize that time also bends. A one-point perspective visual path across the US beginning inside a linear accelerator – or atom-smashing device – and traveling to such high-energy locations as the home of an ancient sun calendar in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; the site of Ohio Valley Mound cultures; the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges; and beyond. I was privileged to be able to film the first known calendar in North America dated from 9-13th century A.D. and hidden behind three rock plinths on the top of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon. A large flat-faced rock was inscribed with nine large concentric circles that were split each year by the sun’s rays on summer solstice, June 21rst. Time bends in many ways.
Inspired by this idea, I used an extreme wide angle lens of 9mm and “one frame of film per foot of physical space” to simulate the concept of time bending. The soundtrack is “Rattlesnake Mountain”, an original score by Pauline Oliveros.
*Preservation of this film was made possible by a grant from the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film & Television.