Hardwood Process

Rental Format(s): 16mm film

A hand-made diary film generated from alternative processing techniques, chemical treatments, and optical & contact printing, it is a history of scarred surfaces, an inquiry, and an imagining: for the marks we see and the marks we make, for the languages we can read and for those we are trying to learn. Written in the scratches on the floors, the scars on the hands, and the chemical etchings into the film emulsion, these languages of experience are unstable ones, their vocabularies constantly shifting with the passage of time. Contact printed by hand on an old Bell & Howell model C printer resulting in individual, unique release prints.

"HARDWOOD PROCESS is, I think a truly astonishing mastery of film, and of such a quality of humanitas as to disarm any sense of 'the overwhelming' which mastery often is causing . . . the film continues to exist as if its notes were found 'in a bottle' so to speak . . . brave, clear senses of being human, yet mixed with this the texture of being sunk into the grain of life. It has the look of an Old Master in some sense, but with all the freshness of something we've never quite seen before." - Stan Brakhage, The Avant-Garde Today

"... David Gatten, in his film HARDWOOD PROCESS, proposes that the scarred surfaces of our physical world are actually the visual dimension of secret languages and exotic vocabulary. HARDWOOD PROCESS traffics in chemically manipulated and optically reprinted images of this world. Marks on scruffy floor boards, swirls of dust and fallen hairs, weather bruised walls of an old barn, words etched into film, vividly colored and solarized windows, fields aglow with otherworldly light, lover's hands feeling lover's hands, painterly abstraction that borders on blind light, the darkly voided screen itself - Gatten mindfully, imaginatively, poetically, generously regards these marked realms not as chaos, not as visual noise, but as enigmatic languages." - Zack Stiglicz, Chicago Reader

"David Gatten's HARDWOOD PROCESS has as its unifying structure a diary; its numbered days indicate a very selective chronology, and broken language introduces each entry--phrases in word and image. While the implication is of time clocking laterally, each entry plumbs another depth, strays from the surface of chronology along another axis into the shifting complexity of daily experience, as aligned with that stack of memory and reflection which is a diary. Images recur, each version an invention. Hands entwined are alternately desperate and intimate: each registers its singular passion. There is an explosive travelogue; a quiet, pulsing, therapeutic immersion in color; an absorption in dust; a quickly fading fairy tale. Although the film is silent, Gatten manages to invoke the spirit and technique of a dramatic reading. Text appears and dies away as eloquently as poetry from a podium; fades are timed to a similar deep rhythm, almost performance of themselves. What recedes, from the procession of days, is the ability of a chronology to truly convey a time. What emerges is the greater trust to be placed in impression-- for Gatten, what truly tells the tale is in the hypnosis of his disciplined looking; in battered, hieroglyphic wood, in scars poured with super-retinal pigment, in silvery troughs of photographic sands." - Erika Mijlin, F Newsmagazine

Rental Fees

16mm film $125.00  

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