Wednesday, December 17, 2008

VINYL IS PODCAST #9: Dreamlands of the Night

by Ryland Walker Knight and Brian Darr

in grass
in moon

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RWK here tryna glut our hello lil kitty (kiddy?) corner of the internet with two podcasts in two days. This late afternoon Brian Darr and I took in some dreamlands of the night at the PFA Library here in Berkeley. (You can browse their Film Collection online.) As I say in the podcast, I'm not particularly well versed in the avant-garde. Before today I had only seen stills from and read essays about and seen the littlest of little clips of Brakhage's bigger than big films. Before today I had seen zero films by Bruce Conner, much less read anything by him. And before, inside today, I was seriously down in the dumps of confusion after reading Sheila O'Malley's rather beautiful pean to Mickey Rourke and all his hurt. So these films this afternoon sure did lift. They did some real lifting. I think this comes through in our talk, too. It started with a Kenneth Anger film, called Eaux d'Artifice, which, surprisingly, you can watch by clicking right here if you want to watch it all monochrome blues, without the occasional pink highlight. Then we moved into Anticipation of the Night by Brakhage (the pix above are stolen from Fred Camper and repurposed/reordered and cropped/edited by me). Then, after Mothlight (yes!), we watched Bruce Baillie's All My Life, which you can watch by clicking right here, if you want to watch it on youtube, which seems like sacrilege after seeing it on what has to be one of the most beautiful 16mm prints around in this cinephile-world. Then my fatigue got the better of me and I missed out on some James Benning and Bette Gordon before we switched to DVD to watch two Conner shorts, which knocked my socks off my feet and (kind of) into my mouth. It was a hell of an inauguration. And now, here it comes, the compulsion to see more. Of course, given my love of words, there's a compulsion to read more, in turn, and I think a great first place to start has to be the Avant-Garde Blog-A-Thon that Girish started/hosted with this post. There's plenty there to keep a curious reader/seer busy for years to come. Guess that's my plan!


[Our talk is bookended by some Black Dice and Fennesz. You should buy Beaches and Canyons and Endless Summer if you do not own them; they're really great.]


  1. Sounds like an amazing run of movies, I envy you. Eaux d'artifice is lovely, and probably even more overwhelming when you see it on the big screen (I've only seen Anger's work on DVD). In his oeuvre, it's only matched for sheer eye candy pleasure by the fragmentary, colorful Puce Moment and the gleaming chrome fetishes of Kustom Kar Kommandos.

    I haven't seen Anticipation of the Night, but I always make every effort to see Brakhage's films in the cinema, even if I've seen them on DVD previously. His films just seem to take on a totally different dimension when they're projected. The first Brakhage I ever saw in the theater was A Child's Garden and the Serious Sea, a few years ago now, and images from that film are still ingrained in my mind.

    Conner is someone I need to explore more, I love both Report and A Movie, which very cleverly deal with the most basic fundamentals of cinema.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Ed. I defo need to see all of these again, and then look for more more more. Maybe I'll just turn into an A-G head? Dunno; doubtful. In any case, I know (now) Bruce Conner is my DOGG, son. Wow! Gotta see more. _Report_ is definitely all about fundamentals--and America!

  3. When I was moving away from San Francisco, Brian also recommended that I take advantage of this little known PFA service to screen some of the 16mm stuff in their collection. I went home and made a list of items I wanted to see, but time got away from me and I never did it. Thanks for the opportunity to live vicariously.

    I did see casting a glance at the PFA, but it didn't stick with me (possibly because I saw it alone and didn't talk about it with anyone afterward). And I forgot about it until about half-way through RR when something clicked, not because Benning reused the soundtrack in this case but because he did that thing where he seemingly plays a recording in his car while he's shooting a landscape.

    Anyway, I have opportunities to see more than I can eat here in Chicago, too, but I still wish I'd taken advantage of that build-your-own-screening service at the PFA.

  4. Thanks for taking the time, Rob. Glad we could give you something. I'm still working on eating foods so my eating images has slowed to a crawl. Or, I don't know when the next time I'll see more a-g stuff will be...

    Also, I wish I could say more about the Benning, again...