- Guy Sherwin |
- 1979 |
- 2 minutes |
- B&W |
Rental Format(s): 16mm
A widescreen two-projector version is part of The Train Films
The sound of lights passing through a darkened landscape seen from a moving train.
"Night Train may be seen as continuing the Vertovian tradition of employing film to reveal phenomena not normally visible to the naked eye.
"Night Train was shot from a moving train at night, using time exposures of half a second per frame. The camera records passing lights as traces, so the nearer the objects to the train, the longer the trace. This results in the familiar travel experience whereby we appear to pass nearer objects faster than distant ones. here this translates into a black screen with abstract horizontal white lines, distant light sources making short feint lines, nearer ones long and bright lines.
"The judder of the train also affects the quality of the trace, imparting a zigzag which makes it look even more like an ECG scan. The lines draw themselves onto the celluloid, or rather the train draws itself across the light sources, making lines in the same way that a glacier acquires striations from the rocks it passes. Thus one thinks of the film shooting itself, in the sense that it is a set-up/procedure which is allowed to run its course unimpeded.
Because of the brevity of each frame, the film is copied many times onto another strip of film, each time shifted forward by one frame, thereby extending the duration of each frame to almost half a second. These extended frames overlap both physically and temporally, and one sees several traces building up on the screen. The traces also generate sound as they scan across the optical sound reader in the projector). The continuous flow pauses once or twice when the train stops at a station and a naturalistic image abruptly forms. The striking contrast between these two kinds of image forces us to rethink our experience of night travel. We conceive of the distant lights and the railway stations as roughly the same kinds of thing, yet the visual trace of these presents us with images so distinct as to seem mutually exclusive beyond the common denominator of light."
-- Nicky Hamlyn. Coil Magazine. Nov 2000.