MALCOLM LE GRICE. STILL/MOVING LIFEStill life is a well-known genre of art history, often considered «minor», and possibly for that same reason, it has served as a vehicle for experimentation for painters who began to think about the very essence of painting and freeing still life from the chains of symbolism. To realize this, you need only to think about the still life works of Gauguin, Matisse, Cézanne, or later, those of the Cubists or of Léger. This idea of still life serves as one way, of the hundreds of ways there may be, to approach the work of one of the most daring and reflective artists who exists (note that the word «filmmaker» is not used; it would not cease to be a tricky or insufficient term when referring to Malcolm Le Grice). The idea of still life is useful to the extent that Le Grice begins his journey as a painter, and in that several of his works make direct reference to that genre and use it in the same manner as the aforementioned painters in order to study the cinema itself as a medium, detaching itself from the narrative and from the supposedly realistic record of reality, to investigate in a plastic, reflective and performative way this thing that we know as cinema. Film is, then, the strip of celluloid or set of pixels, not the hypothetical still life apples in motion, and it is also what happens while the viewer watches it, in the «here and now» of the projection in which each one of us creates his or her own film.
This selection of Le Grice films, although brief and incomplete, serves to account for the multiple forms that these ambitions have adopted over time. He began to experiment with film format in the sixties under the wing of the famous London Film-makers Co-op (in which he played a crucial role, not only as an artist but in starting up the workshop where many of the cooperative’s works would be produced), having his first experiences with computers in the seventies, the definitive step to video in the eighties and the explosion of possibilities of digital media.Program 1
Thursday June 6 | 8:30 pm | CGAI
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1965, double projection 8mm video, 10 min.
The subject was a still life —a black Chinese tea service— all shot at touching distance —the cameras moving around and across the cups and pot. The sound track on tape was made with a ‘prepared’ piano —small hardwood sticks inserted between the strings and struck— influenced by the sounds of Chinese music. (Malcolm Le Grice, 2004)YES NO MAYBE MAYBE NOT
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1967, double projection 16mm video, 8 min.
A double projection of images of lapping water and the Battersea Power Station all transformed by negative positive superimposition creating a moving Bas-Relief effect.ART WORK SERIES: PART 1 ACADEMIC STILL LIFE (CÉZANNE)
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1976-77, 16mm, 6 min.
As the title indicates this is a deliberately academic work, conceived in much the same way that a composer might make a ‘study’. It is not about a Cezanne painting, but attempts to apply certain concepts related to the relativity of changing viewpoints in observation and recording. In much the same way as a Cezanne painting records within its image the problem of stabilising a perception and the way in which shifts in viewpoint modify the spatial experience, the film uses time lapse and time exposure to seek a filmic equivalent for this aesthetic. (M.L.G.)DIGITAL STILL LIFE
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1984, video, 8 min.
Taking up once again the idea of still life (the fruit, the basket) and also drawing from images related to the process and the context (the garden, Le Grice himself, a piano), a film made with an Atari computer, manipulating colour and image via a software, which also defines the sequence of images and the music produced with a MIDI synthesizer.AFTER MONET WATER LILIES
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2008, video, 3 min.
My experience of Monet’s large scale panoramic paintings of his water lily garden when I was about 14 years old became a crucial artistic memory. There have been a number of versions of the material I shot in about 1984 of water lilies and reeds in a pond. (M.L.G.)DIGITAL ABERRATION
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2004, video, 4 min.
Every cheap visual effect in the editing package and a sound track made with free software from a corn-flakes packet. (M.L.G.)ABSINTHE
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2010, video, 1 min.
Visiting a small back-street café in Prague for sausage and wine led to trying Absinthe for the first time –shades of Manet, Degas and Picasso. (M.L.G.)FINITI
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2011, video, 30 min.
FINITI is a provisional form, designed to retain uncertainty and latency of interpretation and an emotional, psychological and intellectual engagement in fleeting moments like Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. I hope any interpretation of the whole is impossible. It stands for artistic experience over ideas. (M.L.G.)Program 2
Friday June 7 | 8:30 pm | CGAI
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1968, 16mm, 13 min.
Little Dog For Roger is made from some fragments of 9.5mm home movie that my father shot of my mother, myself, and a dog we had. This vaguely nostalgic material has provided an opportunity for me to play with medium of celluloid and various kinds of printing and processing devices. The qualities of film, the sprockets, the individual frames, the deterioration of records like memories, all play an important part in the meaning of this film. (M.L.G.)WHARF
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1968, performance withslides transferredto video, 8 min.
Originally the work was presented as a pre-ordered sequence of 35mm slides showing two unknown people walking around the wall of a sea-side swimming pool. Switching between positive and negative focus on the mystery of the hidden and unresolved narrative between the ‘lovers?’. On occasions, this work was shown in superimposition with sections of the film Talla. Two sound tapes were mixed in improvisation. (M.L.G.)NEITHER HERE NOR THERE
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2001, video, 8 min.
Afghanistan as seen on TV —but ultra close-up— touching the screen —not about Afghanistan but about not being able to be about Afghanistan— the spectacle of war at a distance —creating a resistance to TV lies and truth— sceptical not cynical. (M.L.G.)FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR K
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1995, video, 1 min.
For the Beatles and Franz Kafka —what has K’s small house to do with The Trial or The Castle? (M.L.G.)TRAVELLING WITH MARK
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2003, video, 5 min.
Digital manipulation exploiting the transcoding ‘mosaic’ of video shot on a train journey from Berlin to southern Germany with Mark Webber. Transformations of selected sequences, slowed, recoloured, compared. New rhythms —slow thoughts inside a train at speed— blurred and fragmented landscape through the window. The sound is produced by frequency manipulation of the train recorded with the video. (M.L.G.)DENISSINED
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2006, video, 3 min.
Four photographs of Dennis Oppenheim organised in a sequence that repeats in the form of a palindrome (the first of this piece) 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2, copied at different speeds and animated, is later copied in its entirety to then be added to the first in reverse, forming a second palindrome. The music receives the same treatment as the image: it is Bach’s “Crab Cannon”, a composition which also has the form of a palindrome, here in MIDI. The titles at the beginning and end of the piece, palindromes referencing Duchamp’s ANEMIC CINEMA (a partially palindromic title) put the cherry on top of this reversible cake.SELF PORTRAIT AFTER RABAN TAKE MEASURE
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2008, video, 8 min.
Self Portrait looks for an approach to a specific relationship between the duration of a work and material conditions in the projection as did William Raban in the film performance Take Measure. The main difference is that Raban’s work was made when cinematic media had distinct physical properties linking medium directly to image. This self portrait recognizes that there is no such simple materiality for cinema following the emergence of digital processes. Instead the work takes a conceptual base —the speed of light and the time taken for light to travel from the sun to illuminate objects on earth— thus the duration of 8 minutes 20 seconds. (M.L.G.)JONAS, 2013
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 2013. video, 3 min.
An impromptu portrait of Jonas Mekas shot at the Serpentine Gallery, London on the occasion of a celebration of his 90th birthday. All made in a single take whilst Mekas videos Mike Figgis playing Flugelhorn and Rosey Chan plays piano. (M.L.G.)EVEN THE CYCLOPS PAYS THE FERRYMAN
Malcolm Le Grice, United Kingdom, 1998, video, 17 min.
An allegory for the passage from being alive to being dead —the continuing life of others beyond— the re-construction of physical energies from physical decay —the cyclops is the one-eyed father— the one eyed king in the land of the blind —the single lens of the camera— three screens beyond stereoscopy. (M.L.G.)