Expanded Cinema

4 Transitions to Sculpture, Performance, and Multimedia

As the question with respect to the expansion of the cinema was more often addressed, other questions arose as regards how film makes reference to art forms such as sculpture or performance. Anthony McCall, who time and again sounded out the relationship between film and the medium of sculpture, is considered one of the most well-known representatives. In his solid light films, such as his 1973 Line Describing a Cone, he used smoke to stage the ray of light being emitted by projectors in the darkness of the room between the projector and the screen in such a way that the people walking about in the screening room felt it was palpable. These works by McCall would exercise a great influence on artists such as Bruce McClure, who began producing films in the early 1990s.

In his works, McClure placed more emphasis on the processuality of the screening by using the projector like an instrument with which one could experiment during the projection. In much the same way as Barbara Rubin, who in her early work Christmas on Earth (1963) provided screening instructions for influencing the projection of the film, in this case McClure, too, modified the normal progression of films in his screenings by using stencils, sound pedals, pigments, and so forth, such as in Black & Blue-Yellowed (2001), thus making the film experience a unique live experience. Other representatives of this spreading form of experimental film are, for example, Luis Recoder, Sandra Gibson, and Jürgen Reble and Thomas Köner. In their performance Alchemie (Alchemy; 1992), in particular the latter again took up a history of visual music. In this case, for instance, a 16 mm film freely hanging in the screening room was constantly altered by Reble through the application of different chemical substances directly onto the filmstrip. These interventions changed the image in an alchemistic way, while Köner created a live sound mix based on the noises emitted by the projector.

These spatial approaches, in which the entire body again became a multisensory field of experience, would also become more and more important for other contexts, such as concerts or audiovisual installations, and to this day they continue to be an interesting field for artistic explorations of the interaction between image and sound. This kind of live cinema can thus certainly be considered a link between the traditional forms of Expanded Cinema and the newer forms of VJing developed at concerts and in clubs.