Sound in structural cinema - Albert Alcoz

Talk by Albert Alcoz March 27, 2019 at Ex-Designer Project Bar (Barcelona).

In its article "Structural Film"published in 1969 in the magazine Film Culturethe American theorist P. Adams Sitney analyzes a set of films from Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits and Ken Jacobsamong others, that interrogate the cinematographic medium by questioning its constituent elements. Listening to these films under artistic parameters such as silence, noise, soundscape, the treatment of the voice, the use of repetition and music are some of the strategies proposed to evaluate the auditory aspects of structural cinema.

The presentation followed the structure of the book Filmic resonances. Sound in Structural Cinema (1960-1981) and was combined with the viewing of excerpts from the films discussed:

Kurt Kren: Bäume im Herbst (1960)
Steve FarrerTen Drawings (1976)
Guy SherwinMusical Stairs (1977)

Hollis FramptonCritical Mass (1971)
Morgan Fisher: Picture and Sound Rushes (1973)

J. J. Murphy: Print Generation (1970-74)
Bill BrandMoment (1972)
Larry Gottheim: Four Shadows (1978)

William Raban and Chris Welsband: River Yar (1971)
Paul WinklerBondi (1979)
Chris GallagherSeeing In the Rain (1981)

Morgan FisherProjection Instructions (1976)

Alcoz, Albert, Filmic resonances. Sound in structural cinema (1960-1981). Santander: Shangrila Texts Apart, 2017.

Exploring the aesthetic and ideological interstices of the sound dimension in experimental cinema is the main motive of this research. In these pages, sound is studied from an analytical position that emphasizes the idiosyncrasy of the filmmakers' acoustic creation processes, the sonic ruptures that their films formulate and the aural challenges they raise for the audience. To substantiate the reasoning, this essay concentrates on a set of films linked to the notion of structural cinema. This controversial category -identified by the North American historian and theoretician P. Adams Sitney in the article "Structural Film"published by the magazine Film Culture in 1969- designates works that problematize the cinematographic medium, discussing its constituent elements.

Kurt Kren, Steve Farrer, Guy Sherwin, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Morgan Fisher, Bill Brand, J. J. Murphy, Larry Gottheim, William Raban, Chris Welsby, Paul Winkler and Chris Gallagher are the filmmakers invited in a paper that reflects on the sound practices of their films. The formalist constructions, the semantic implications and the listening experiences of works created on celluloid. -on 16 mm support are the axes of a written journey whose configuration is defined in three parts. The first chapter detects the shortcomings of the study of sound in cinema while clarifying the theoretical intricacies of structural cinema, the second block pays attention to a selection of films ordered under four headings -Noise, Voice, Repetition, Soundscape. and, finally, the conclusion foreshadows the relevance of silence in an eminently resonant artistic discipline.

Filmmakers close to the principles of structural cinema question how sounds should be articulated in relation to moving images. To do so, they take up the iconoclastic heritage of the filmic avant-garde of the 1920s, adopt the debates of minimalism and conceptual art of the late 1960s, and incorporate the methodological advances developed within experimental music. A return to the search for filmic specificity is one of the correlates of all this. Filmic resonances perceives the validity of structural cinema as a field of filmic experimentation whose sound vibrations are expanding in an unprecedented way.

Albert Alcoz (Barcelona, 1979) is a filmmaker, researcher, teacher and programmer of experimental film and video creation. D. in Film Theory, Analysis and Documentation from the University of Barcelona. Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, with a doctoral thesis on sound and structural cinema (2016). Since May 2006 he has been writing the website Visionary Filmon avant-garde cinema and current experimental cinema. In 2013 he started the Angular project with Alberto Cabrera Bernala DVD publishing label of international experimental cinema. In 2014, together with eight filmmakers, he founded Reversible Laboratoryan independent laboratory and analog film collective in the city of Barcelona. In 2015 he starts the project Cine anémico, a cycle of screenings in super and 16 mm of local filmmakers. Since 2016 he organizes, together with Marcel Pié, Daniel Pitarch and Pepón Menesesthe sessions CANCER of experimental film and video. In 2017 he curated the exhibition (Re) visionados, (re) visitados, a re-reading of the beginnings of Spanish video art for the art center. Arts Santa Monica. In May 2017 he published his first book, Filmic resonances. Sound in Structural Cinema (1960-1981), edited by Shangrila Texts Apart.


The book: