Len Lye <em>Trade Tattoo</em> 1937

Len Lye Trade Tattoo 1937


3 Dec 2016

Projection Series #5: Once more - but different

Historical and contemporary short films made with ‘found footage’

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre continues its exploration of fine art filmmaking with the fifith installment of the Projection Series - a special cinema programme curated by the Berlin and Singapore based curator, critic and film scholar Marc Glöde.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre continues its exploration of fine art filmmaking with the next in the Projection Series - a special cinema programme curated by the Berlin and Singapore based curator, critic and film scholar Marc Glöde. Inspired by the experimental techniques employed by New Zealand’s own Len Lye, this one-off screening presents contemporary and historical cinema produced with ‘found’, or appropriated footage. The programme includes Lye’s Trade Tattoo (1937), an experimental tour-de-force assembled from stock documentary footage alongside Lye’s direct film techniques. Bruce Conner’s 1958 masterpiece A Movie, assembled from snippets of b-movies and newsreels, features in a new 4k digital restoration alongside works by William E Jones, Rico Gatson, Tracey Moffatt, Matthias Müller and Peter Roehr.

Curator Marc Glöde will host the screening.

Len Lye Trade Tattoo (1937)

5min, 35mm, Technicolor, sound

A GPO film production, Trade Tattoo was made using existing film stock – black-and-white off-cuts from GPO Film Unit documentaries such as Alberto Cavalcanti’s Night Mail (1936). His most complex experiment in film processing, Lye completely transformed the found footage, adding hand painted images and stencilled patterns, and using techniques such montage and jumpcuts, cued to the Lecuona Band's ‘rollicking’ music.


Bruce Conner A Movie (1958)

12min, 16mm, b/w, sound

A Movie takes historical moments that were recurrent on television screens, and repurposes them into a meditation on how the media attempts to wield authority and apply a sense of order to the chaos of modern life. In 1994 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, regarded as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Peter Roehr Filmmontagen I-III (1965-68)

3min, 16mm

Bridging the preoccupations of pop and minimalism, German artist Peter Roehr's film montages loop short excerpts of generic found footage; including cityscapes, shampoo commercials, wrestlers and highways. Roehr remarked that he "changes material by repeating it unchanged”. This direct loop of a moving image can be frustrating for the viewer, suggesting that time is stuck. On the other hand, the loops draw focus to the pleasure of sheer repetition, taking on a new sentimental standpoint with the banal becoming monumental.

Matthias Müller Home Stories (1990)

6min, 16mm, colour

A found footage masterpiece, Home Stories is a collection of the most cheesy and colourful images of distressed and dapper housewives from the iconic 1950s Hollywood era. Müller has edited them into a film that both comments on gender entrapment in classic-era Hollywood while exhibiting the sheer joy of image mutilation.

Matthias Müller and Christoph Girardet Hide (2006)

6min, 16mm, colour

Hide is a highly stylized recycling of commercial footage of models applying personal hygiene and cosmetic products. In a quick cut montage of glistening body parts juxtaposed against the sensual application of assorted products, these carefully constructed plastic images begin to fade, crack, and burn with the material deterioration of the celluloid itself, before being reduced to stark whiteness. By using the materiality of film as a means for the materiality of the human body, Müller and Girardet craft a comical metaphor for the vain pursuit of consumer-driven eternal youth.

Rico Gatson Gun Play (2001)

3min, colour, sound

Gatson composes a psychedelic spectacle of cult references and Hollywood clichés that confront the mesmerising power of mainstream media. Gun Play is a kaleidoscopic mashup, mixing sequences from Jack Hill’s blacksploitation film Foxy Brown (1974) and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966).


Tracey Moffatt Other (2009)

6.30min, colour

Other is a fast paced montage of Hollywood movie clips depicting fascination and desirability between races, both historically and contemporarily. The scenes swell into a narrative from tentative interaction to heated attraction between individuals of clashing cultures. 

Katherine Berger Mother Tongue (2011)

7min, 16mm, colour

Mother Tongue is the result of found footage of Canadian families, which Berger then buried in the ground of Tasmania, Australia, for two months. This process was influenced by a residency in Canada, in which Berger witnessed the way native Canadians were losing their traditional lifestyle due to the change of nature. This method then works to communicate and co-direct with nature, having Mother Nature inscribe herself on the resulting imagery.

William E. Jones Shoot Don’t Shoot (2012)

04.33min, colour, sound

This adapts a law enforcement instructional film, by the same title, used in educating law enforcement recruits about the instinctive nature of firearms. The suspect in the sequence fits the following description: “a black man wearing a pinkish shirt and yellow pants.” In the original film, this is the one sequence that is repeated with the same actor. The first time he appears, he is not armed; the second time, he is. In neither case it is not appropriate for the officer to fire at the suspect. The voice-over, taken unaltered from the original, addresses the spectator directly and places him/her in the position of an armed police officer.

Nate Harrison Aura dies hard (How I learned to stop worrying and love the copy) (2010)

14min, colour

The film begins as the artist returns from a video art exhibition and reflects on the rhetoric of ‘dematerialization’ and video as an artistic medium.

Kutiman Thru You (2009)

4min, colour

This film is a combination of unrelated YouTube videos edited together to create the music video to ThruYou, following the idea that what you see is what you hear.


Projection Series #5: Once more – but different
B/W & Colour, 90 min. approx