Expanded Cinema

The proposed "Expanded Cinema" project is essentially about re-presenting some key cinema-performance pieces from the early-mid 1970s.

…here is a little quote from a general description of the project, to give you an idea:

Between 1966 and 1973, some groups of filmmakers in London and Vienna began to make cinema works which questioned the architectural space of the theatre itself. Conventionally, cinema creates a psychic space which takes the viewer outside of his/her body, transported through the "window" of the screen into the spaces and narratives beyond it. Artists like Anthony McCall, Malcolm le Grice, and Valie Export sought to draw the audience's attention to this conventionality by making "Expanded Cinema", which went beyond mere projection. They employed physical interventions in the cinema space, such as flashing light bulbs which illuminated the whole room, clouds of smoke which lit up the "cone of light" from the projector, and even the creation of small "mini-cinemas" where the sense of touch, rather than sight, was utilised.

 Pretty much what is involved, is bringing one or 2 key artists to Australia (from Britain) to set up their work and perform with it, as well as to re-construct the necessary elements of many other pieces for which the presence of the artist in not required. In addition, a small exhibition of documentation – writings, photos, and videos will be mounted.

I have confirmed with Sydney and perth, to be the hosts. Hoping Adelaide might come on board too…
here are a few descriptions of the works i want to present: (there will be many more)

William Raban: has a marvellous piece from 1973 (thanks to william for clarification, see comments below) called 2"45' (2 min 45 sec)

in this piece, a 16mm projector, not loaded with film, projects white light onto the screen, for the amount of time specified in the title. the artist announces the piece from the front of the room, and a film camera next to the projector records the entire event, including the screen, and the audience, and any sounds they might make.

the following evening the process is repeated, with the film shot the previous night (which has been rapidly develped) being projected, and so on.

every time the event occurs, the film shown is a record of every previous showing.

a previous showing's film "residue" can never be shown again.

Guy Sherwin has piece called man with a mirror.

originally made in 1976. involves live performance with the artist holding a square mirror (maybe 1 metre square) which is painted white on the back. the film is projected at the performer, who rotates the mirror/screen in front of himself. the film being projected, is of the artist (1976) holding an identical mirror/screen, standing in a field. the resulting overlap of reflection/image/overlay is visually, extremely confusing and fascinating. in addition, the audience is aware that it is the same man, but 30 years later. it is a strange and poignant ageing piece (although it was never intended to be).

both artists have many more such works, whose presentation is obviously much enhanced by their presence.

……….pretty much what i am thinking, in terms of the conceptual framework for the project, is to present expanded cinema in its various levels of documentation/resolution. this will range from

-works which have only a written description/memory

-works for which there are photographs

-works with moving image documentation

-works which can be "enacted" live (the "real" thing)

thus, a small, quickly mounted exhibition of the first 3 elements, and some screening events (2 or 3 nights) for the 4th. and a catalogue. the exhibition i envisage will be something punters will want to look at before/during the screening events. but it could also run as a short exhibition.


expanded cinema is messy, its people getting together in small rooms and showing each other stuff and talking about it, its a bit like the sydney moving image coalition's fantastic super 8 nights.
it's about doing stuff with very little resources, and it was very much about the london filmmakers co-operative, a unique organisation which controlled the production, collection, and distribution of its work.
i am very keen to see the project happen in sydney, partly because of the dire state of the film scene there (and the video installation "scene" if you can call it that).
the film scene: well, squatspace has been ranting about that for a few years, the tropfest business and the fox studios hollywood production sweatshop. the video scene, because for some godforsaken reason it seems fascinated by the idea of "immersion" and "virtual reality" yet seems to do these things so badly. i even went to the zkm organisation in germany (the home of video-immersion-virtualreality) to see if i was wrong, but i don't think i am. its a resource-heavy parade of gimmickry.
[postscript – having said that, they have what looks like a great show at the moment (March 2004) about Peter Weibel, one of the earliest expanded cinema artists and collaborator with Valie Export…]
this is the kind of thing that expanded cinema artists were (and still are) working against, yet theirs is a forgotten history. so its partly a historical-reconstruction project. i want to remind sydney artists that you dont need huge (hi-tech) resources to make interesting moving image work.
There is an article, from late 2003, by Valie Export about her E.C. work at Senses of Cinema
…and…what looked like a marvellous show in Vienna called X-Screen which ran until late Feb 2004…


planned execution date: october 2004. [as of march 2004, this project has been postponed… will keep ya posted!]

5 thoughts on “Expanded Cinema

  1. Steven Ball Post author

    Hi Lucas,

    I’m enjoying reading your blog… I think the Jas H Duke link that Ruark Lewis mentions is to Jeff Keen (and therefore more to Brighton than London). Arthur Cantrill would know more.

  2. Steven Ball Post author

    My curiosity led me to dig through some back issues of ‘Cantrill’s Filmnotes’ to find that no. 23/24 (July 1976) contains an 11 page piece handwritten by Jas Duke, with images from Keen’s ‘Meatdaze’ (1968), and tales of his time with Keen from 1968 – ’72. Duke apparently collaborated with Keen on ‘Meatdaze’ and participated in many other films and events.

  3. William Raban Post author

    you kindly mention my expanded film performance 2′ 45″ which was first performed (on many occasions) in 1973 not 1974

  4. Lucas Post author

    hi william great to hear from you! i will fix that date up. (i’m not the greatest historian. enthusiast, yes, historian, no…) cheers lucas


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