Relative Opacity: Standard Gauge and Water and Power
Location: Bartos Screening Room
Standard Gauge (Dir. Morgan Fisher. 1984, 35 mins. 16mm.)
Water and Power (Dir. Pat O’Neill. 1989, 57 mins. 16mm.)
Structuralist filmmaker Morgan Fisher, whose work Jim Supanick has described as “like a service entrance hidden behind the Hollywood sign,” narrates elements of his own personal history through fragments of discarded film stock in his autobiographical Standard Gauge. Holding these celluloid elements in the viewer’s gaze as the tactile ingredients of the medium rather than the worlds they are used to project, the film speaks between a life as it is lived and as it is represented through time-based media. Timescales collide in Pat O’Neill’s astonishing Water and Power, a collage masterwork of optical printing and time-lapse photography. From geologic time to traffic rhythms, Pacific tides to the cadence of movie dialogue, the oscillations of the city and the landscapes that were drained to create it are formed into dense, moving tableaus of superimposition. Scott McDonald writes that the film “reveals a modern city as layer over layer of experience, and makes no pretense of reducing Los Angeles to anything like a single, coherent understanding… L.A. is not merely an elaborate reality; it is a nearly overwhelming surreality.”—Courtney Stephens
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