Close up we see pistons move up and down or side to side. Pendulums sway, the small parts of machinery move. Gears drive larger wheels. Gears within gears spin. Shafts turn some mechanism that is out of sight. Screws revolve and move other gears; a bit rotates. More subtle mechanisms move other mechanical parts for unknown purposes. Weights rise and fall. The movements, underscored by sound, are rhythmic. Circles, squares, rods, and teeth are in constant and sometimes asymmetrical motion. These human-made mechanical bits seem benign and reassuring. —IMDb
Ralph Steiner (8 February 1899 – 13 July 1986) was an American photographer, pioneer documentarian and a key figure among avant-garde filmmakers in the 1930s.
Born in Cleveland, Steiner studied chemistry at Dartmouth, but in 1921 entered the Clarence H. White School of Modern Photography. White helped Steiner in finding a job at the Manhattan Photogravure Company, and Steiner worked on making photogravure plates of scenes from Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North. Not long after, Steiner’s work as a freelance photographer in New York began, working mostly in advertising and for publications like Ladies’ Home Journal. Through the encouragement of fellow photographer Paul Strand, Steiner joined the left-of-center Film and Photo League around 1927. He was also to influence the photography of Walker Evans, giving him guidance, technical assistance, and one of his view cameras.
In 1929, Steiner made his first film, H2O, a poetic evocation of water that captured the abstract… read more