Part of Summer 1991
In response to Pleasure Dome’s open call for submissions last season, an independent curatorial film project was initiated by The Splinter, a loose and lively Toronto-based architectural (maga)zine. In keeping with the playful, multidisciplinary spirit of their engagement with architectural issues, the group decided to approach film programming from more than one angle. The first night features a curated selection of local and international work, while the second showcases new work by local filmmakers solicited expressly for the screening. These efforts have created a context that is both structured and open, providing a point of departure for possible practices, in architecture and in cinema. In addition to the screenings the new issue of their zine, The Splinter 4: Antic Architecture Cinema, will be launched on the first night. The Splinter plays off the margins of architecture, feeding off an energy not yet absorbed by the institutions that govern it; institutions that construe architecture as either production or discourse. The Splinter propagates architecture as act, experience, event: demolishing the boundaries that lacerate architecture, that make it seem self-contained and isolated from the other arts.
“The Metropolis is both the historical condition and subject of Modern Architecture and film making. ‘Architecture,’ noted Walter Benjamin, explaining its relevance to film, ‘has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction.’ This state of distraction, expressed in images of destruction and surveillance, has in fact become the manifest content of films and videos that have emerged from the conjunction of film and architecture. But this state should not be dismissed as a taste for decay, of a presumption of ‘telling-it-like-it-is’. A complex brutality prevails in the Metropolis, whether aestheticised in film noir, or recuperated as the ridiculous ‘dirty realism’ of some contemporary architectural theorists. Similarly, these films and videos are aloof from the social activism that emerges from or identifies with particular communities. It is as individual gestures and acts of self-definition that they are political. If some have analogies to home-movies, notably in their scale, production and level of subjectivity, it is not because they inhabit the spatial and social limits of that ideal. Instead, it is because they pick up a discarded technology and renew the desire for subjective self-constitution, this time in respect of its proper object, the city. The quantity of work required two screenings; its division was by open call versus curated work and not by media, although this coincided somewhat with the division of film and video.” (The Splinter)
Thursday July 18, 8pm
These works, predominantly in video, represent a spectrum of diverse concerns being dealt with on the outskirts of architecture. They record and analyse experiences, projects, space and the city according to parameters which drift from the personal to the civic, but which always remain more subjective than the attitudes sanctioned by architecture. They thus offer a deepening of apperception that does not necessarily ‘look architectural’. The Splinter 4: Antic Architecture Cinema will be launched this evening.
Brutalitat im Stein (Brutality in Stone) Alexander Kluge & P. Schamoni, 12 min, 1960.
“Fragments of now ruined monumental buildings and stadia constructed or imagined by the Nazis are conveyed in soberly composed shots and through camera movements freed of all narrative motivation. The ‘friction’ generated by these fragments of reified discourse deployed in different formal parameters produces a shock to the memory and facilitates a more comprehensive grasp of the grim history they point to.” (Stuart Liebman)
The Floating Staircase Tom Dean, 21 min, 1983.
“The stair is an abstraction of the body. Like many cultural artifacts it embodies us, is a metaphor. It articulates the vector between the ascending mind and the proceeding body, the vector compromise between our forward directedness and our upward directedness.” This video chronicles Dean’s Floating Staircase project from its launch into the object world through to its charred remains, several years later.
Architecture Ego Alexander Pilis, 7 min, 1987.
“The power of the victim is terrifying.” Architecture Ego depicts the mega-metropolis of Sao Paulo stripped to the bone by the hovering eye of the architect/interrogator. Future city in the present tense.
Detroit; City of My Dreams Kevin Cook, 30 min, 1991.
“The stomach curdles as the eyes focus on the urban tundra swishing by too rapidly: staring out the side window of a slum blender whizzing along from somewhere to somewhere else.” Post-urban obsolescence has a curious, even sympathetic spectator as new possibilities are opened from this technological vantage point.
Incidence of Storage Space Robert Lee, 10 min, 1990.
“Mary wakes, looks at her fingernails and says: ‘I go to bed with clean nails, I wake up and they are dirty. What have I been doing during the night?'” Architecture ceases to be identified with walls. Instead the relationship between people, their particular circumstances, their peculiar responses defines an architecture structured by place, situations and actions.
Home Movies by Big City Dwellers
Friday July 19, 8pm
The Splinter is a ‘zine that slips architecture’s guard down a notch or two just to see what it could be like if it weren’t so exclusive. Getting off paper and home ground seemed a good place to start. So we proposed a reunion between film and architecture, but found that unless we wanted documentaries on Ronchamp and the cityscapes of structural cinema there really wasn’t much to justify our love. We set out as go-betweens, ‘agit-pop productivists’: we asked people to make new things, found some people working along the same lines, and made our own films. These works are mostly new then, made in response to an open call. As shorts, and in many cases first films, they negotiate their subjectivity with the production scale of home-movies and a greater awareness of how we dwell in the city, in (between) genres, and in our projects.
The evening’s program will include:
Airdrie Grain Elevator: February 15, 1991 Stephanie White, 6 min, 1991.
Destruction of a House by Fire Chris Gehman, 6 min, 1990.
House Clare Hodge, 3 min, 1990.
Down/Up Rocco Matteo, 7 min, 1991.
Heartlands Bill Brown, 3 min, 1990.
Theseus and the Kinotaur John Moir, 1 min, 1991.
You=Architecture Kika Thorne, 3 min, 1991.
TO Toronto Gary Thomas, 5 min, 1991.
Design Exchange Ken Hayes, 6 min, 1991.
1901 Kathleen Maitland-Carter, 10 min, 1991.
Untitled Tom Taylor, 5 min, 1991.
Without Greg Van Alstyne, 5 min, 1991.
Arena Barry Isenor, 5 min, 1991.
Plus recent work by Milada Kovac and John Porter.