CHARLOTTE PRYCETo relive the amazement and emotion of the first natural scientists, who in their notes and drawings classified the wonders of a flora and fauna yet to be discovered, even in the mists of legend. To experience the birth of a chemical alloy with spectacular properties, halfway between science and magic. There, between science and magic, is cinema and the reverie machinery that came before it, and which Charlotte Pryce uses to foster all of those sensations in her films and performances, adding as well the overwhelming impression of phantasmagoria that those spectators of the late 19th century must have experienced when they saw their first film screening. A rarity in these times of the omnipresence of the moving image, times in which we carry in our pocket a device that can contain the whole world, and yet which does not produce a quarter part of the amazement that Pryce can achieve using one device invented in the seventeenth century and another that is already more than a hundred years old.PROGRAM 1X
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 1988, 16mm, 6 min.
A dirge, a dance. A portrait of stillness and silence disturbed by the urgency of sadness. The film is composed of paintings from the Northern Renaissance collaged and combined with hand-painted hand-processed and optically manipulated images. (Charlotte Pryce)A STUDY IN NATURAL MAGIC
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2013, 16mm, 3 min.
Witness an alchemist’s spell: the transmutation of light into substance. A glimpse of gold. (C.P.)PRIMA MATERIA
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2015, 16mm, 3 min.
Delicate threads of energy spiral and transform into mysterious microscopic cells of golden dust: these are the luminous particles of the alchemist’s dream. Prima Materia is inspired by the haunting wonderment of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. It is an homage to the first, tentative photographic records that revealed the extraordinary nature of phenomena lurking just beyond the edge of human vision. (C.P.)PWDRE SER: THE ROT OF STARS
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2019, 16mm video, 7 min.
The film depicts an encounter with a mysterious, luminous, electrical substance. Inspired equally by medieval accounts of visionary experiences and by 19th century photography of the invisible, Pwdre Ser joins Kirlian photography with hand-processed images. Pwdre Ser is the Welsh name for a mythical substance that has been observed by many since the 1400’s. (C.P.)THE TEARS OF A MUDLARK
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2018, performance with magic lanterns, 20 min.
The inspiration for The Tears of a Mudlark was a photo taken in the 1930s or ’40s of two women biologists who had discovered the remains of a swarm of grasshoppers frozen in a glacier. I found the photo in the Los Angeles Public Library photo collection, along with vintage pictures of LA. I had been thinking about making a piece that was about strata—the layering of one deposit on top of another–– perhaps because that’s what I was doing chemically in a lot of my films. I then began to think about the extraction of oil in LA and that legacy of pollution in relation to this story I wanted to tell, which was also about exhuming an illusion and attempting to bring that out of the magic lantern at the same time. (C.P.)
CONCERNING FLIGHT: FIVE ILLUMINATIONS IN MINIATURE
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2004, 16mm, 8 min.
Five small films in one, five miniature illustrations about the mystery of the flight of insects. In screening order: Thin Breath-quivering, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Departure from the Garden, Conjuring Forth the Firefly and Keepers of the Labyrinth.DISCOVERIES ON THE FOREST FLOOR 1-3
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2007, 16mm, 4 min.
Three studies of plants observed and imagined, botanical discoveries inside the frame. The title is taken from an obscure genre of 17th century painting: Forest Floor Paintings, which placed plants into a ‘real’ environments as opposed to a vase.THE PARABLE OF THE TULIP PAINTER AND THE FLY
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2008, 16mm, 4 min.
An intoxicating flower; a metaphorical insect; a longing reach across the centuries. The film is a philosophical search drenched in luminous colours and sparkling light. Having grown the beautiful tulip I fell deeply under its spell ––an affliction shared by an artist from another time and place. In such luxurious and temporary beauty we crossed paths, sharing fear (a reminder–– a fly) of the transience of life. (C.P.)CURIOUS LIGHT
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2011, 16mm, 4 min.
A manuscript illuminated: illustrations retreat into the fibre of the page: a fleeting light dissolves into the emulsion of the film: an elusive story is revisited. (C.P.)LOOKING GLASS INSECTS
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2013, 16mm, 4 min.
The film takes its title from chapter three of Through the Looking Glass and its classic original illustrations by Tenniel. Delighting in the act and play of observation, it finds a visual metaphor for the cinematic process in the antics of the original story, and makes use of magnifying glasses as an optical pun ––pointing to the instruments used by both entomologists and filmmakers alike. Yet the insects of the story fade away, just as the observations that appear in the film’s magnifying glass dissolve into darkness when tilted to reflect the “natural” world beyond the book. (C.P.)W.H. HUDSON’S REMARKABLE ARGENTINE ORNITHOLOGY
Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2013, performance with magic lanterns, 15 min.
In this performance with magic lanterns, Pryce uses the colourful and magnificent ornithological illustrations gathered by Argentine natural scientist William Henry Hudson towards the end of the 19th century, evoking the fauna from his native land while in his adopted England. We enter into an illustrated lecture on a rainy London afternoon that transports us to the exotic landscapes of La Pampa and its legendary birds, in a resonant experience that grazes the supernatural.