A carefully prepared “rush job” and come on. Every second counts in Prelude, an unblinking wild three-way where most every action (teaser ingredients of ‘sex,’ ‘violence’ music and food) occurs thrice, as sound, verbal description and visual event. Though these constituent parts are out of joint and rarely meet in the same incremental ‘time zone,’ perfect synch seems only to occur dead center within the room. The action occurs within the same camera pan and single take. Like some of Snow?s greatest work, the seemingly offhand Prelude is conceptually meticulous. The film constructs a momentary physical world subject to specific behavioral and cinematic laws that parody the idea of ‘Coming Attractions.’ Taking off on the apparent paradoxes and backhanded clairvoyance of all trailers – how can something prepare a path and ‘trail’ behind, acting as an appetizer, but also spoiling all narrative surprise? Time and tempi are torqured to match the exaggerated metabolism and delivery of such advertisement cum films. —Mark McElhatten
Michael Snow is best known for his influential 1967 film Wavelength, which remains one of the landmarks of structuralist cinema. Already an accomplished musician, sculptor, painter, and photographer in his native Canada when he became interested in film after moving to New York in the early ‘60s, he saw filmmaking as a natural extension of his other artmaking activities. His first film, New York Eye and Ear Control, incorporated the “Walking Woman” figure he had already employed in a series of widely-exhibited paintings and sculptures.
His subsequent films investigate the medium’s formal possibilities and are often structured on the mechanical properties of the camera itself. Wavelength is organized around a 42-minute zoom across a New York City loft. His next film, Back and Forth, is built around continuous horizontal and vertical pans across a classroom. These experiments reached their logical extreme with La Région Centrale, for which he built a computer-controlled apparatus… read more