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Now Available on DVD: The Films of Bill Brand!

Posted March 9th, 2015 in New Acquisitions, New DVDs, News / Events

We are pleased to announce that the following works by filmmaker Bill Brand are now available to purchase on DVD through Canyon Cinema:

Tree (1970 | 8 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

An old tree sits on a mound in an Ohio farm field. The filming of the tree and the metrical editing of the film is organized around the tree’s natural elements: water, earth, root ends, roots, trunk, limbs, branches, leaves and sun.

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Zip Tone Cat Tune (1972 | 8 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

A simple home movie of a cat is reprocessed through a ‘Zip-a-tone’ dot pattern making a complex of layers. In combination with freeze frames, positive and negative, and color motion, this work attempts to visually construct a system of overlays like those in Baroque musical composition.

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Moment (1972 | 25 minutes | B&W | SOUND)

A view of a gas station is seen from inside, behind a multi-paneled tire ad display. In a 2 1/2 minute sequence, a simple series of ordinary gas station events is seen intermittently through the opening display. This sequence is then divided and rearranged 7 times in reverse order. Each time the divisions are greater in number (smaller in size) until finally the film appears to move smoothly backwards, divided by a single frame. The inspiration for the film as well as the title is derived from information theory where a ‘moment’ is defined as the shortest duration at which no distinction can be made between units of information. This work is a demonstration and exploration of the line between human information and machine information. It dynamically reveals film’s basic unit, the frame.

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Acts of Light (Complete Trilogy): Rate of Change, Angular Momentum, & Circles of Confusion (1972-1974 | 53 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

ACTS OF LIGHT is a trilogy consisting of RATE OF CHANGE, ANGULAR MOMENTUM, and CIRCLES OF CONFUSION. Together they develop a study of pure color based on the notion that film is essentially change rather than motion. The films build one on the other as first pure change, then relational change, and finally, irrational change. They can be seen together or as separate works.

RATE OF CHANGE (1972) has no original, no frames, only slow continuously shifting colors, cycling around the perimeter of the spectrum. The changes are so slow as to be unseen, yet they alter perception of the color.

In ANGULAR MOMENTUM (1972) continuous color changes rotate around a spectrum at varying speeds of rotation and degrees of intensity. The colors on the left start nearly white and rotate very slowly. As the film progresses the color value become darker and the speed of rotation increases until, by the end, the color is nearly black and rotates around the spectrum about once per second. On the right, the opposite occurs. It starts black and progresses nearly to white. The varying rates of rotation determine the moment combination of colors. The film has an improvised electronic soundtrack by Richard Teitelbaum.

In CIRCLES OF CONFUSION (1974), circles of colored light (red, green, blue) pulsate and flicker as they move around the frame. Where they intersect, they display a variety of secondary colors. The term, circles of confusion belongs to the physics of the lenses. Here it has to do with the focus of light. It refers to the focus of mental and emotional energies as an irrational system for composing a film.

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Touch Tone Phone Film (1973 | 8 minutes | B&W | SOUND)

TOUCH TONE PHONE FILM scrambles the system by which film represents time and motion. In the film, a phone rings and a woman gets up to answer it. Although the event is recorded on film, we only see it as a sliding strip.

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Demolition of a Wall (1973 | 30 minutes | B&W | SOUND)

DEMOLITION OF A WALL takes six frames of the falling wall from the 1896 Lumiere film and shows reorders these six frames in all their permutations. With a score for piano that follows a similar pattern the film resembles change ringing, a musical form developed in England in the 17th century where the tuned bells of a church tower are rung in a series of mathematical patterns called “changes”. In the original Lumiere film, we see Lumiere himself directing workers demolish the wall while a mysterious man in the background watches. In its first commercial screening, Lumiere showed the film forward and backward. Here, we see 718 additional variations on the theme.

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The Trial of Koskimo, His First Hunt (1976 | 34 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

This film chronicles an artistic and personal quest through an assortment of in-camera and optical printing experiments. Shutter effects and swarming dots fragment the filmic surface so the picture oscillates between abstraction and recognition. The soundtrack quotes excerpts from anthropologist Franz Boas’ 1930 text about a Kwakiutl Indian shaman. The story serves as a metaphor for the struggle of the artist practicing a new visual language. In the Boas text, a man relates his learning the ways of a shaman. Doubting the magic in shamanistic practice, he strives to understand traditional methods in order to discover the truth. Though he learns the secrets of his teachers and finds only tricks, he nonetheless becomes a powerful and famous shaman himself. This film is about the desire to master the magic of the image while following a path of doubt and skepticism.

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Works in the Field (1978 | 40 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

Mountain landscapes, Manhattan cityscapes and images from magazine covers and television news are fragmented through optical printing with computer-generated mattes. Intercut with a found documentary about family life in Malaysia, the film becomes an essay on reading. Watching the film is like an accelerated game of concentration with glimpses of the image appearing inside swirling grids. The juxtaposition of the gridded sequences to the conventionally assembled Malaysian footage formulates an inquiry into the nature and meaning of the “document” in cinema.

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Split Decision (1979 | 15  minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

This film is a scrambled narrative that illustrates, in soap opera fashion, life of artists in Lower Manhattan and at the same time dramatizes questions about the nature of filmic representation. Split decision is a boxing term used when the judges divide their votes in finding a winner. In this case the fight is between the two heroes of the film who are seen intermittently in a bar, negotiating a pick-up, and at home, breaking up in a domestic quarrel. The fight is also in the telling, between modes of conventional representation and modes of radical representation – between conventional continuity editing, and abstraction created through computer generated grids. The film features an appearance by Carolee Schneemann and digital imaging from before the era of personal computers.

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Chuck’s Will’s Widow (1982 | 13 minutes | COLOR | SILENT)

CHUCK’S WILL’S WIDOW is a eulogy for my father and mother whose ashes are spread in the Adirondack mountain woods where the film is shot. Visualized through a field of swirling shapes, the fragmented landscapes weave an emotional fabric containing inexplicable personifications and associations.

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Tracy’s Family Folk Festival (1983 | 10 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

This is an impressionistic portrayal of the 1982 folk festival at Tracy and Eloise Schwarz’s farm in Central Pennsylvania. The festival, dedicated that year to the legendary Elizabeth Cotton, includes Bluegrass, Old Timey, Cajun, Country, and Gospel music. In contrast to the easygoing atmosphere of the festival, the film is a frenetic swirl of elaborately collaged shapes derived from traditional Pennsylvania Dutch designs. While sometimes the music seems to animate the image, at others the image itself becomes visual music on its own, eliciting ephemeral and sometimes forlorn emotions. The film offers an unusual meeting of a folk tradition and the avant garde, implying a fundamental connection between the two.

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Coalfields (1984 | 39 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

West Virginia industrial landscapes are collaged on an optical printer through a series of jagged shapes that transform the photographed scenes into a semi-abstract kinetic field. The technique developed by Brand in his earlier films, extends the already complex visual idiom by inlaying social, sexual, personal and political subject matter. Woven into the fabric of the film is the story of Fred Carter, a retired coal miner and black lung activist who was framed by the Federal Government in its effort to undercut the black lung movement and to stop his bid for president of the United Mine Workers Association. His story is told through fragments of documentary interviews and by a poet whose narrative forms a counter theme within the film. The film’s thematic content and formal visualizations sit in precarious balance.

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Home Less Home (1990 | 75 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

People who are homeless reveal homelessness from their own experiences dispelling common misconceptions and prejudices. Told as a personal journey, the film gives a broad analysis of the causes and conditions of homelessness while it analyzes news, TV reports and historical images of poverty. This film presents new ways to look at homelessness, displacing the debate from questions of charity to ones of social justice.

** Blue Ribbon, American Film and Video Festival **
** New Directors/ New Films Festival, Museum of Modern Art, NYC **
** Berlin Film Festival Forum of New Cinema **
** Rotterdam International Film Festival **

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Suite (Five Shorts) (1996-2003 | 39 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

This suite of videos addresses personal and family history, in part, dealing with the implications of being the only sibling of five not to have inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease, a genetic disorder that generally leads to kidney failure in middle age. In these works, I explore the body as a site both of beauty and abjection.

SUITE consists of five shorts: MY FATHER’S LEGS (1997-98), INTERIOR OUTPOST (2003), DOUBLE NEPHRECTOMY (1998), MOXIBUSTION (1999) and GAZELLE (1999).

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Skinside Out (2002 | 10 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

SKINSIDE OUT features paint on skin, carried out in an expressionist mode on both of the filmmakers’ bodies. The emphasis is on the pleasure of looking — at the edge of repulsion — and the implications of making public an essentially private gesture. The film posits painting as a gendered, bodily act, whose location shifts continually within a context that’s always changing. Images filmed in the studio are juxtaposed with footage of a construction barge along the Hudson. By examining both in relation to surface, the work paradoxically looks for what lies within, while questioning who and where we take ourselves to be.

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Swan’s Island (2005 | 5 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Katy Martin paints directly on her skin, and uses her whole body to make marks with the paint. Bill Brand frames the action and its trace, in the process, linking painting and cinema. SWAN’S ISLAND explores gesture in painting, and how it relates to the hand held camera. The film creates abstractions from the glistening blue paint that in turn evoke a seascape or a distant, yet intimate place. In its choreography, SWAN’S ISLAND is a duet. The painted figure occupies space, and the camera describes that space. The person filming and the person filmed are moving as one, and yet they are separate, each an island. Seeing and being seen are inextricably bound with emotions of love and loss, longing and a sense of place.

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Rampla Juniors (2011 | 16 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Rampla Juniors Fútbol Club is a local team from el Cerro, Montevideo that has served as the heart of this Uruguayan working class neighborhood since 1914! Neither about the game nor the team, the film instead is a poetic evocation of the ritualized pleasure and dedication of the fans and the spectacular landscape of their time worn stadium.

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Sicómoro (2011 | 5 minutes | COLOR |SOUND)

Sicómoro is a meditation on travel and home revealed through ornate doors and architectural details in Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo, Uruguay. The text by Carolina Noblega takes the form of a letter to a friend.

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Susie’s Ghost (2011 | 7 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

SUSIE’S GHOST is about the mystery of the marks we make and leave behind. The “Susie” in the title refers to my older sister who had died shortly before we shot the film but the “ghost” refers more generally to feelings of lingering loss. Both my photography and the performance of collaborator Ruthie Marantz express a tentative presence and a diffuse sense of disappearance. Is she looking for something or someone? Is she really there? Is she really gone? We shot with aging 16mm film in my downtown Manhattan neighborhood, just before construction mania obliterated the last traces of the manufacturing district I’d moved to 35 years earlier. That too has passed.

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Down the Alley (2011 | 8 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Three friends on a Montevideo Art Deco apartment roof, one in a rabbit mask, climb up a tower and fall through the looking glass into a 1950’s themed bowling arcade.

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