Light and Shadow: Films by Nicky Hamlyn

03.25.10

Light and Shadow: Films by Nicky Hamlyn
With U.K. Filmmaker Nicky Hamlyn in Person!
Saturday, March 27, 8:00pm
The Nightingale
1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale

White Light Cinema is extremely honored to welcome U.K. filmmaker, artist, and author Nicky Hamlyn, who will present a selection of his stunning 16mm films from the past two decades.

Hamlyn is frequently referred to as a Structuralist filmmaker, and he certainly is a minimalist one in the form and construction of his films. But, unlike most “structuralists” he is equally concerned with light and color and texture. His work seems a melding of the Structuralist strain the avant-garde film with the lyrical one, to great effect.

Simple in concept, frequently he films room interiors or buildings, his films are at the same time visually rich and striking in their detail. He has the eye of a painter, but he also has a sophisticated understanding of the power of cinema and his camera work and editing are as delicate and resonant as his images.

“Hamlyn’s mostly silent films are concentrated, focused on the relationship between camera and place, maker and materials. Subtle shifts in focus, single-frame sequences, or time-lapse photography alter perception of a tree, a wall, a garden trellis, a shadow, or a reflection. Space is alternately flattened and expanded. The gap in a fence, the opening between two sheets hanging on a laundry line re-frame the outdoors, and nature in close-up becomes abstract and intensely colored, surprising us with its patterns, variability, and the sheer beauty of the mundane.” (Excerpt from Program Notes, LIFT, Toronto, Canada)

PROGRAM:

MINUTIAE (1990, 1 min, color, sound, 16mm)
“Nicky Hamlyn’s portrait of BBC2’s The Late Show studio was shot in one continuous sequence, and with no subsequent editing. Within the limit of a one-minute duration, the film reverses the usual visual priorities, and explores the space surrounding the absent interviewer’s chair.” (Tate Modern)

HOLE (1992, 2 mins, color, silent, 16mm)
“Hole is a pendant/coda to a longer film, Only at First, completed a year earlier. The subject is an absence, a hole in a fibreboard security fence surrounding a large construction site. The hole was made by a drunk who kicked the fence as he was passing my house one night. Behind the hole can be seen fragments of an older fence that enclosed an area of ‘allotments’ rectangles of land that can be hired by members of the public who wish to grow their own vegetables. The hole appears in every shot and the work is principally an exploration of light, but also of scale: feline and human appearances articulate the space in passing through it.” (NH)

MATRIX (1999, 7 mins., color, silent, 16mm)
“Matrix is constructed in terms of receding planes. It shows a back garden/yard and the housing beyond it, in which the divide between the private and public sphere, a garden wall topped with wooden trellis, acts as a fulcrum for various spatial elaborations. Matrix is both analytical and synthetic. Analytical in that there is an attempt to explore three-dimensional space through two dimensional planes, but without resorting to Cubist fragmentation, in that the planes are unified around a singular position (not point) of view, synthetic in that every aspect of the space is re-configured through shifts in the angle of that point of view, bringing into alignment previously seen elements from earlier, different alignments. The trellis acts as a framing and aligning
device, and its form echoes that of the filmstrip and the manner in which the film is assembled, that is, in a frame-by-frame manner.” (NH)

LUX ET UMBRA (1999, 2 mins., B&W, silent, 16mm)
“A portrait of the Lux building in Hoxton Square, London. The film shows building work and completed parts.” (LUX)

NOT RESTING (1999, 4 mins., B&W, silent, 16mm)
“Shot from a bed, the film moves from white to black. Monochrome surfaces and textures on colour film.” (LUX)

PENUMBRA (2003, 9 mins., B&W, silent, 16mm)
“In Penumbra the camera strategy, and shooting scheme, are rigidly determined by the film’s subject, a grid of off-white bathroom tiles. The work is formed as a continuously evolving image. In other words it has neither cuts nor dissolves, both of which affect the transition from one shot to another, but exists as a single fixed shot made with a static camera. Penumbra’s spatio-temporal grid structure parallels the structure of the filmstrip, which is similarly grid-like: spatial in its actual physical form, spatio-temporal in its manner of operation.” (NH)

TRANSIT OF VENUS (2005, 2 mins., B&W, silent, 16mm)
“Transit of Venus is composed of two consecutive, partial, time-lapse records of the ‘Transit of Venus,’ when Venus passed across the Sun on June 8th 2004, ‘Transits of Venus’ are rare and currently occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits 8 years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. Before 2004 the last pair of ‘Transits of Venus’ were in December 1874 and December 1882. The second of the current pair will be on June 6th, 2012. Although the film was shot with a very small aperture, reduced shutter opening and several layers of neutral density filter, resulting in a black sky, the sun nevertheless remains contrastingly dazzling, and Venus, consequently, is obliterated. These two short sequences are contextualized with data detailing the various technical parameters, which determine the peculiarity of the image.” (NH)

OBJECT STUDIES (2005, 16 mins., color, silent, 16mm)
“Object Studies is organised around a colour scheme based loosely on the hues of the colour temperature scale; brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white. Time-lapse, interlaced, single-frame sequences and lap-dissolves were deployed to explore density, translucency and the interactions of different kinds of cast-shadows.” (NH)

PISTRINO (2003, 9 mins., B&W, silent, 16mm)
“Pistrino is a work in progress, assembled from time-lapse footage shot in Italy over the last three years. I am interested in how the relative values of light and shade are transformed in certain images of natural objects and related phenomena, so that, for example, a shadow becomes at least as strong as the object which casts it. This has the effect of complicating the reading of a given image, as well as creating a new kind of image from the interactions between objects and the shadows they cast. In some of the shots am also interested in how the perceptibility of grain is effected by light and focus levels.” (NH)

PANNI (2005, 3 mins., color, silent, 16mm)
“Panni was shot in a rain-lashed garden in central Italy, in the last week of 2004. It depicts the layers, veils and mattes created by washing on a line. A mix of interlaced, single-frame sequences and normal shooting was deployed to develop ideas about translucency, opacity and looking-through.” (NH)

QUARTET (2007, 8 mins., color and B&W, silent, 16mm)
“The film is structured on a 20 shot sequence of a room that is repeated three times. The first two sequences are in colour, and are shot according to a strict formal plan. Each shot contains a portion of the point of view of its adjacent partners. The second two sequences are in black and white and are more freely structured, even though they follow the spatial-formal pattern established in the first sequence. The only movement in the film is accidental – clouds seen through a window – otherwise nothing moves and there is no sound.” (NH)

PRO AGRI (2008, 3 mins., color, silent, 16mm)
A “time-lapse composition that bears a powerful and timely pro-land, pro- agriculture message.” (Toronto International Film Festival)

WATER WATER (2004, 11 mins., color and B&W, silent, 16mm)
“Water Water revisits the bathroom location of a previous film White Light (1996). It is based around a set of antinomies that operate at various levels, from between frames to between the two halves of the film. The black and white first part is composed of individually filmed frames (animation) which form shots of interlaced contrary motion that nevertheless can be read as sequences of individual frames, and/or in which alternate frames are lit in contrasting ways so as to emulate negative-positive juxtapositions. In the colour second half, dissolves replace cuts, light softens and contrast decreases. Continuity, by way of isomorphic features in the room, replaces the discontinuities of part one.” (LUX)

Nicky Hamlyn studied Fine Art at the University of Reading. From 1979 to 1981 he was a workshop organizer at the London Film-makers’ Coop, where he was also a founder and regular contributor to the Co-op’s magazine Undercut. In 2003 he published the book Film Art Phenomena and has contributed to a variety of magazines, anthologies, and exhibition catalogs. He currently teaches at the University for the Creative Arts. Hamlyn is one of the key U.K. experimental filmmakers of the last 30 years. He has screened throughout the
world and has over 40 films, videos, and installations to his credit.

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