John Smith

John Smith's film, video and installation works have been shown in cinemas, art galleries and on television throughout the world. They have been screened at over a hundred international film festivals and awarded major prizes in Hamburg, Leipzig, Oberhausen, Cork, Palermo, Graz, Uppsala, Bangkok, Ann Arbor and Chicago. Recent exhibitions include one-person shows at Pearl Gallery (London), Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne) and retrospectives at Oberhausen, Cork, Tampere and Uppsala international film festivals.

John Smith is Professor of Fine Art Film & Video at the University of East London.

"The films of John Smith conduct a serious investigation into the combination of sound and image, but with a sense of humour that reaches out beyond the traditional avant-garde audience. His films move between narrative and absurdity, constantly undermining the traditional relationship between the visual and the aural. By blurring the perceived boundaries of experimental film, fiction and documentary, Smith never delivers what he has led the spectator to expect." -Mark Webber (Leeds International Film Festival catalogue 2000)

"Internationally renowned for a body of work that spans 30 years, charts social and political shifts and reveals the essence of film itself, John Smith's films, videos and installations are those of a master craftsman and a maestro of deception. Multiple layerings of jokes, visual and aural puns, narrative tricks, editing feats and breathtakingly sharp structural analyses obscure and ultimately reveal an intensely personal root. Unreliable narrators variously figure as subject and object, character, camera and editor as the dynamics of narrative repeatedly confound expectation. Smith's love of storytelling is matched in its brilliance by conceptual rigour, courting authority to reveal it as defunct with an irreverence that belies profound humanitarian, political and social concerns. Disregarding the boundaries between fact and fiction, documentary and narrative construction, these works are hysterically funny, vital, and continuously astonishing." -Ian White (from catalogue essay for John Smith retrospective at Oberhausen International Short Film Festival 2002)

"The popularity of John Smith's films can be explained by his wry sense of humour, his play on language and the elegance of his visual style. His understated humour thinly conceals a darker layer of meaning in his films. John Smith's skill as both narrator and composer of visual narratives leaves us discomforted even as we smile." -Catherine Elwes (UK/Canadian Video Exchange 2000)

"These films can be enjoyed as stories; films for everyone, especially in their humour. They comprise a personal topography of East London, blighted but alive. Viewers are enticed to interrogate the very illusions that films construct in front of their eyes - and behind their backs." -A.L. Rees (A Directory of British Film & Video Artists 1996)

Complete Filmography -
(All works are 16mm, colour, optical sound unless otherwise specified)

Triangles 1972, 3mins, magnetic sound.
Someone Moving 1972, 5mins, magnetic sound.
The Hut 1973, 5mins, magnetic sound.
Words 1973, 7mins, magnetic sound. Collaboration with Lis Rhodes.
William and the Cows 1974, 6mins, silent.
Faces 1 1975, 11mins, B/W, silent.
Faces 2 1974, 3mins, B/W, silent.
Associations 1975, 7mins.
Leading Light 1975, 11mins.
Nine Short Stories 1975, 3mins, B/W, silent.
Subjective Tick-Tocks 1975, 11mins, B/W, magnetic sound.
The Girl Chewing Gum 1976, 12mins, B/W.
Summer Diary 1976-7, 30mins, magnetic sound.
Hackney Marshes - November 4th 1977 1977, 15mins, silent.
Gardner 1977, 6mins, video.
Hackney Marshes (TV version) 1978, 30mins, video.
7P 1978, 7mins.
Blue Bathroom 1979, 14mins.
Celestial Navigation 1980, 10mins, magnetic sound.
Spring Tree 1980, 3mins, silent.
Shine So Hard 1981, 32mins, magnetic sound.
Light Sleep 1981, 6mins.
Shepherd's Delight 1980-4, 35mins.
Om 1986, 4mins.
The Black Tower 1985-7, 24mins.
Dungeness (3 films for theatre production) 1987, 12mins, silent.
Slow Glass 1988-91, 40mins.
Gargantuan 1992, 1min.
Home Suite 1993-4, 96mins, video.
Blight 1996, 14mins, video & 16mm.
The Kiss (in collaboration with Ian Bourn) 1999, 5mins, video.
The Waste Land 1999, 5 mins, video.
Regression 1999, 17 mins, video.
Lost Sound (in collaboration with Graeme Miller) 2001, 28mins, video.
Frozen War 2001, 11 mins, video.
Worst Case Scenario 2001-3, 18 mins, video.


Gargantuan (1992)
Slow Glass (1988-91)
Om (1986)