Line Describing a Cone
- Anthony McCall |
- 1973 |
- 30 minutes |
- B&W |
Rental Format(s): 16mm
Note: Special projection requirements - see below.
Line describing a cone is what I term a solid light film. It is dealing with the projected light-beam itself, rather than treating the light-beam as a mere carrier of coded information, which is decoded when it strikes a flat surface (the screen).
The film exists only in the present: the moment of projection. It refers to nothing beyond this real time.
The form of attention required on the part of the viewer is unprecedented. No longer is one viewing position as good as any other. For this film every viewing position presents a different aspect. The viewer therefore has a participatory role in apprehending the event: he or she can - indeed needs to move around, relative to the emerging light-form.
"... Anthony McCall's LINE DESCRIBING A CONE [is] a film which demanded to be looked at, not on the screen, but in the space of the auditorium. What was at issue was the establishment of a cone of light between the projector and the screen, out of what was initially one pencil-like beam of light. I consider it the most brilliant case of an observation on the essentially sculptural quality of every cinematic situation." - P. Adams Sitney, Artforum
SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE PROJECTION OF "LINE DESCRIBING A CONE" TO AN AUDIENCE
Please note: there is, obviously, especially for one-time showings, a certain necessary improvisatory spirit. So these specifications should be taken as guidelines rather than imperatives. However, I can say that the most successful showings that I have witnessed have been reasonably close to these recommended conditions. -Anthony McCall
1. That projector should be inside the viewing space, not inside a projection booth.
2. The projection space should be entirely empty of chairs or other furniture.
3. The projection space must be absolutely pitch-dark. Owing to the delicate nature of light, even a slight spillage of ambient light from poorly masked windows or doors can seriously affect the film's visibility. A five or six-inch-wide strip of thin black card loosely looped over the top of the projector casing to minimize light spillage from the heat vents up onto the ceiling, can also help.
4. Whenever possible, use a 16mm projector with a 350 watt Xenon lamp (and this would be essential for the longer projection throws). The Xenon lamp is significantly brighter than that of a standard projector.
5. The projector should stand on a plinth of about 4-5' in height (the ideal height would place the lens of the projector at approximately half the height of the projected image). [Metric: 1m - 1.5m]
6. The ideal projection distance between projector lens and wall is between 30' and 50' feet. The ideal frame height at the wall is between 7' and 11' (ie giving an ideal ratio between beam length and frame height of between 4.5 and 5 to 1). The base of the frame should be about 1' from the floor. [Metric: 9m - 17m throw, 2m - 3.5m frame height, 30cm from floor]
7. The light of the beam is visible through its contact with tiny particles in the air, be they from dust, humidity or smoke. The most effective and controllable method of ensuring visibility is by hiring or borrowing a "Hazer". These can usually be rented by the day from theatrical or lighting supply firms. See, for example, the Martin/Jem ZR24/7 Hazer. A Hazer fills the projection space with a safe, odorless haze similar in appearance to a sea mist, which is extremely effective in rendering the beam of light palpable and visible.