Once, a long time ago, the director only needed a train to terrify his audience. Soon enough, audiences got hip to the whole artifice thing and the image alone was no longer enough. One history of cinema is the history of finding novel ways to scare a group of people sitting in the dark.
As someone who, owing to both finances and priorities, has seen only a small fraction of the dozens of recent blockbusters that Evan Calder Williams calls on in his new book Shard Cinema, I nonetheless instantly recognized the sort of image he describes in its opening pages as the point of departure for the wide-ranging inquiry that follows: “the slow-motion shatter, drift, spray, and spread through the air of broken glass, ice, cement, plastic, wood, and metal, of crystalline drops of water and glowing sparks and specks of dust and snow and sand, all given ample screen time to go nowhere in particular
“It’s been a bad year.” I suppose that this refrain heard around Toronto means—as it did in Berlin and Cannes—that the films intended to catch the official mood of a culture, its “radical center,” seem to have failed against the state of the world or the history of the art.
If one needed a reminder of cinema’s youth as an artistic medium, the dearth of serious attention yet paid to stereoscopic filmmaking would suffice. Happily, the young filmmaker Blake Williams, Texas born and Toronto based, has given his considerable energies (he also works as a critic and academic) to shaping a coherent history of what has so far been achieved in stereoscopy, and, more importantly, pointing toward what work remains to be done.
Before anything for the eyes, the sounds of nature: birdsong, the wind in their homes. This audio continues when there appears some seconds later the image of a Caucasian figure in tight close-up, cropped harshly above the collarbones and below the chin.
Gina Telaroli has produced feature films (the quasi-narratives Traveling Light (2011) and Heres to the Future! (2014)), still-image essays, and traditional criticism (dossiers on Allan Dwan and William Wellman), all while working full-time as an archivist, and the streams of her various modes of cinematic activity have finally run together in the form of her video collages.