Monday, November 26, 2012

DingXin at Anthology Film Archives

A screening of 16mm films by DingXin at Anthology Film Archives on Tuesday November 13, 2012.

Many hand-processed films, dark silhouettes of sprocket holes bleeding into the frame, flickering afterimages of painted clear leader printed onto high contrast film, patterns of light reflected off the ripples on water, prisms producing rainbows in front of obscure objects. 

The earliest and the latest works made a lasting impression.  The first film shown was DingXin's first film made.  A film of the moon, seen in crescent, slowly arching its way across the frame, in silence, its transit interrupted by the texture and movement of the film; hand-processed (and hand-printed?) with the registration shifting, the sprocket holes visible at times, but maybe just a stencil-like imprint of the sprockets from the processing?  Snowflake like dust adding to the texture of the image, the moon glowing serene and aloof amidst physicality of the photochemically treated strip of film unfurling in the projector.

The last piece, Prisms, a work entirely shot in closeup, with the spectrum of light refracted in the prisms of the film's title.  Sometimes an object was there, a bronze sculpture perhaps? or an imaginary landscape dreamed by the viewer of the film? never seen to the point where we could readily identify it, and the shallow plane of focus an element in the work's intrigue.  While this was a film about the visual experience of the light, refractions, and reflections of angled glass, it was also a film about the mystery of how we can look but not necessarily discern what it is that we are seeing.  The extreme close-up is a clarity of detail as much as it is an abstraction of the whole.

* * *

The screening was introduced by local filmmaker/animator Eric Leiser.  DingXin studied filmmaking in California, but now teaches at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.  This was the first one-person screening of his work in New York, but hopefully not the last.

The obligatory question for those of us there who were hoping more people could be introduced to this work was "Are your films available on-line?"  The answer was no.  These were works to be screened as works of film.  It's not hard to understand.  A work like Prisms might really suffer without the disorienting sense of scale; the contrast of monumental size of the work on screen with these tiny, macro-lens details would be entirely lost on a computer monitor just due to the size of the image itself.  So no links from this blog post to see these films on Vimeo or YouTube.  You'll just need to go see this work when it's showing again -- on the movie screen!