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curated programs

Curiosity about form and process that makes analogue filmmaking so joyful. May 2019, Vilnius, Ozo Hall

by Miki Ambrózy

A Mechanical Craft

Films by Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie

Still from China not China (2018) © R. Tuohy and D. Barrie

There are many ways to introduce Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie. They work on celluloid. They are among the most active film artist today in Australia. They use mostly 16mm color and black and white film to make artist's films, films which are distributed in projection.

What you are going to see tonight are seven short films.

These films observe, analyze and look for possibilities. They are structured and focused. The same basic set of parameters that fascinated the first filmmakers in the history of cinema are still a reason for wonder: images in reverse, slowed down, isolated, repeated, double, triple- or quadrauple exposed. Reality is a fragile idea, and the films you're about to see remind us of this fact.

Richard and Dianna belong to the artistic movement that started to appropriate the technologies of the cinema industry in the late 1990s. Taking old machines from commercial labs, the filmmakers in this line of work use their creativity to reuse the machinery for contemporary forms of expression. Their work is among films made in nonprofit labs around the world. The kind of cinema that keeps an alternative film culture alive, making it possible to continue making indepdendent film work on celluloid and distribute it in projection.

One of the ambitions of Sponge Studio is to support and distribute such forms of alternative filmmaking.

In tonight's show you will see works made between 2009 and 2018. The films start with an encounter, a place or both. Thus we shall spend time with a flyscreen, a common household item in Australia. Or Etienne's hand, in honour of our good friend from the MTK Grenoble lab in France. These subjects are transformed during the films, exploring the possibilities of do-it-yourself cinema, always asking the question what if .... .

What if we reversed this image?
What if we exposed two, three or eight moving shots?

This is the kind of curiosity about form and process that makes analogue filmmaking so joyful.

Between each film, Richard will "animate" the discussion, and I challenge you to ask your questions. Art exists between maker and viewer, and the moment to discuss will be here and now.

There is a beautiful evolution in tonight's works, there's more and more poetry entering the films. The show culminates in the majestic China Not China (2018).

A day before this screening we had the honour to observe Richard and Dianna in action, as they helped us create in our lab the first primitive machine: a 16mm editing table turned film copier. Just like in their films, they observed, analyzed, tried, cracked some jokes, tested ideas and eventually created a functional tool for filmmaking. At the end of the day, they left with precise instructions on how to work our newborn machine.

It's this generosity which is so important for artist-run labs, and this is the reason why I want to thank Richard and Dianna for stopping by in Vilnius.