American artist and film-maker Owen Land screened Dialogues, 2007–09, 30 years since his last completed film. It took the form of a series of short films, informed by folklore, history and theology.
Shrine of the Insect, 2008 (Sound track: Taketo Shimada)
My Paisley Eyes, 2008 (Sound track: Taketo Shimada)
These pilots are a small series of experiments that began when Flynt was importuned to watch the ‘trip’ sequences in 2001 and Alternate States. However Flynt believes that abstract cinema is potentially more engrossing than narrative cinema. In his CINACT manifesto he stated that abstract cinema is the paradise for the abstract artist. But only if one has the sensibility, the intent; otherwise it is academic vapid and tiresome. CINACT describes the technical facets of content, attack on the eye, effects subsisting in perception, periodicity, drifts and soundtracks that are required to differentiate between these subtle sensibilities. For Flynt there is no reason to limit strobe cinema to the full-frame binary strobe of Tony Conrad’s Flicker. For example strobing can be irritating while blinking is not painful at all, only annoying if one wants to see continuously. After seeing both novelistic and abstract films with stupid soundtracks, at first Flynt wanted to eliminate the soundtrack all together as he considered it disrespectful to the visual experience. However Taketo Shimada turned him around completely by suggesting a monotone soundtrack that fills the audio channel in a relatively neutral way that does not furnish a separate message and is absorbed into the visual.
Henry Flynt (b.1945, American) attended Harvard, but dropped out to give his full time to original work. Flynt is known as a wholesale critic of the existing civilisation. Less well known is that Flynt has made many intellectual proposals which, when woven together, were meant to point to a post-capitalist, post-scientific civilisation, as documented in his Blueprint for a Higher Civilization (Multipla Edizioni, 1975). Flynt has swerved in and out of public cultural life over the past few decades. He has often published his work to make it part of the public record. About 20 albums of his music have appeared, and he resumed public music performance this year. Represented by art dealer Emily Harvey until her death, he participated in the 1990 Venice Biennale and the 1993 Lyon Biennale.
Dialogues, or A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind, 2007-2009 (DVD, colour, sound, 120 mins; courtesy Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp)
Owen Land’s first film production for almost three decades, Dialogues was recently premiered at Kunsthalle Bern. Structured as a series of shorts, Dialogues is loosely autobiographical, based on his life and relationships in 1985 after returning to LA from Japan. Each ‘dialogue’, infused with his characteristic wry humour using puns and wordplay, plays with narrative structure and varied film techniques, using sound, inter-titles, rhythm and repetition parodying the structuralist film of his peers such as Kenneth Anger and Stan Brackage. Each seemingly random vignette is in fact irreverently informed by ‘platonic dialogues to explore themes of reincarnation, art criticism and tantra’ that relate to his long-term study of folklore, myth and theology.
Filmmaker, artist and writer Owen Land (formally George Landow) was born in Connecticut and lives and works in New York. Mentored by Stan Brackage and critically acclaimed in the 1960s and 70s for his structuralist films such as Film in Which There Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, Etc (1965-6) that explored the properties of celluloid. He went on to introduce complex wordplay and an irreverent humour to later films such as Wide Angle Saxon (1975) and On the Marriage Broker Joke (1977-9) which, apart from two 1980s videos, was his last completed film until Dialogues. Land has exhibited in numerous exhibitions, festivals and screenings internationally and retrospectives of his films have been held at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Scotland; The American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York; The Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Netherlands; Tate, London and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Owen Land is represented by Office Baroque Gallery, Antwerp.
Serpentine Cinema was a series of monthly screenings and events at The Gate cinema in Notting Hill which gave an opportunity to view rarely seen artists’ films in a cinema context. Presented in association with Sketch.