Friday, September 11, 2009

Caroline Martel's new installation encompasses archival and classic film footage. Opening @ Dazibao in Montreal this December

Caroline Martel
Cinémas de l'industrie
12.09.09 – 17.10.09

Image Credit: Caroline Martel, 2009

It is believed that several hundred thousand industrial films were produced in the United States between 1920 and the late 1970s. These commissioned films, with their precise goals and within the constraints of an acknowledged rhetoric, were never meant to be or perceived as works of art. Going against the current of received ideas on the topic, the documentary filmmaker Caroline Martel has carried out a close and thoroughly original study of these fringe cinemas to create works of art out of orphan films and film classics alike.

Cinémas de l’industrie is made up of two separate projections, one of industrial films and the other of films from the cinematic canon. In the break between these two practices thereby revealed, the codes they share are made visible, as well as a subtle play of interference and quotation. Using some twenty works covering a century (1896 to 1991), Martel composes a counterpoint that reveals the clichés and commonplaces of film language—all those techniques whose eloquence transcends genre. Frank B. Gilbreth’s one best way studies, films made by Bell Laboratories and other excerpts found in the course of patient research are seen alongside famous films, they sometimes imitate sometimes inspire, such as Modern Times, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tron.

In La Chimie du temps, Martel examines the effect on the viewing experience of changes to the film stock over time. Even the worst-preserved films are rarely seen in their real state: the job of technicians in audio-visual archives is to make them “legible”, by restoring their colours for example. What then is the original of an archival image: its filmic source as it has been preserved or the corrected—altered—version that is nevertheless closer to how it first appeared? How should an archive be read?

Above content courtesy of Dazibao

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