Swirling dots with flickering intensity filled the screen on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 30, in the Putnam Theater at Keene State College. Such a sight may be uncommon to general audiences, but for filmmaker Richard Tuohy and collaborator Dianna Barrie it is common practice. Tuohy and Barrie are visiting experimental filmmakers from Australia.
Tuohy and Barrie have been traveling around America for “about a month,” according to Film Department Head Jonathan Schwartz. In that time, they have been giving workshops on their various film printing and developing methods, as well as doing multiple screenings.
Part of a larger movement that still works with real film, Tuohy said, “We are a collective that salvages equipment to do our own film processing.” While owning film-processing equipment, like optical printers, used to be a rather expensive endeavor, the abandonment of film for digital has given rise to these types of film art collectives. Film professor Irina Leimbacher said, “Old technology can be radical.”
Tuohy brought eight films to be screened at the Putnam, each with their own style and processing method. The first film screened was “Iron Wood,” a film depicting various trees. Creating an entirely in-camera view on a Bolex camera, the film demonstrated Tuohy’s abilities as a filmmaker.
The next film Tuohy showed was “Fly Screen.” This film differs from the last because it used virtually no cameras. Instead it was made utilizing the Rayogram technique. This is a technique in which objects are placed directly on the film as it is exposed to light. This creates a black and white image of the objects placed on the filmstrip. The film is made up of a fly screen being used in this process. “Seoul Electric” was filmed in Seoul, South Korea. Using a process that changes the film’s black portions to a different color, Tuohy creates an entire visual experience with this technique. The film utilizes sound from the streets and images of different buildings superimposed onto each other.
Another film that Tuohy filmed abroad was “Ginza Street.” The film is a kaleidoscope vision of Tokyo. This film used a unique process invented by Tuohy. The entire film would be filmed on color, but developed in black and white.
Later Tuohy would make the decision of what portions would be developed in full color, inverted color or left black and white.
One of the longest pieces of the night was “Étienne’s Hand,” running at thirteen minutes. This became notable because the film used only a five second shot of a man opening and closing his hand. That single image is repeated in a multitude of ways, including quick repetition and super imposition. “Blue Like Chicago” was filmed in Chicago and is based around the idea of interference patterns. The film was made using multiple exposures of skyscrapers in the Chicago skyline.
The final film of the night was “Screen Tone.” The film is another Rayogram like “Fly Screen.” With Rayogram, objects placed over a filmstrip also come in contact with the sound strip on the film. This contact causes audio to be produced from inanimate objects. The film uses dotted paper to create the image of dots on the filmstrip. The dots created an almost electronic sound from their contact with the audio strip. The film’s intense flashing imagery warranted a warning by Tuohy for “flicker sensitive people to leave.”
Attendance was low at the screening. Film professor Johanna Dery said, “More students should take advantage of the visiting filmmakers.”
Joseph Jowett can be contacted at email@example.com