Visual Collegium

Devotional Cinema : film poetics of Nathaniel Dorsky

01 & 02/06/2019, 20:00h @ Academy of Fine Arts Zagreb (Ilica 85)

Over the last five decades, American filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky has created numerous unique film poems. His film work began as a member of the American film Underground, working with Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas. His works directly refer to the film ontology, elements and their interrelations: light, rhythm, view, and cut (…). With a thoroughly elaborated approach, Dorsky sets the film as a visual art by addressing the film’s unnecessary dependence on text, narrative and sound, establishing the film as an autonomous language. The author’s dedication to celluloid and extensively precise film-making stems from the belief that film can and should be a transcendental experience, one that “undermines our enthusiasm in temporality and reveals the depths of our reality, which gives us a more complete sense of self and the world that surrounds us”.

Because of this, the author refuses to digitize his works, insisting on analog projections as the only way to fully experience and perceive the film, the medium that can be used to tell us something about us.

In the program dedicated to the film poetry of Nathaniel Dorsky, Multimedia Institute, in cooperation with Klubvizija Lab and Academy of Fine Arts, presents recent works of artist in the original 16mm format. As part of the program we are publishing the translation of his essay “Devotional Cinema”, one of the most important contemporary poetics of film.

Screening schedule

Saturday, 01.06.2019. u 20:00h : in total 138 min + breaks

— HOURS OF JEROME : 21’: This footage was shot and edited from 1966 to 1970 and then edited to completion over a two year period ending in July 1982. Hours for Jerome (as in a Book of Hours) is an arrangement of images, energies, and illuminations from daily life. These fragments of light revolve around the four seasons. Part one is spring through summer; Part two is fall and winter. N. D.

— TRISTE : 18’: Triste is an indication of the level of cinema language that I have been working towards. By delicately shifting the weight and solidity of the images, and bringing together subject matter not ordinarily associated, a deeper sense of impermanence and mystery can open. The images are as much pure-energy objects as representation of verbal understanding and the screen itself is transformed into a “speaking” character. The “sadness” referred to in the title is more the struggle of the film itself to become a film as such, rather than some pervasive mood. N. D

— VARIATIONS : 24’: Variations blossomed forth while shooting additional material for Triste. What tender chaos, what current of luminous rhymes might cinema reveal unbridled from the daytime word? During the Bronze Age a variety of sanctuaries were built for curative purposes. One of the principal activities was transformative sleep. This montage speaks to that tradition. N. D.

— ARBOR VITAE : 28’: Arbor Vitae is a gesture towards a cinema of pure being. Its atmosphere is haunted by the period in which it was shot, the year of 1999. Although the cuts are open and numerous in their intent, the underlying motivation is the delicate reveal of the transparency of presence, our tender mystery midst the elaborate unfolding of the tree of life. N. D.

— LOVE’S REFRAIN : 22’: Perhaps the most delicately tactile in this series,Love’s Refrain rests moment to moment on its own surface. It is a coda in twilight, a soft-spoken conclusion to a set of four cinematic songs. N.D.


Sunday 02.06. u 20:00h : in total 137 min + breaks

— ARBORETUM CYCLE : 137: For the past several years California experienced an extreme drought. But this past winter good fortune brought a bountiful amount of storms and liquid refreshment. The spring that followed took on magical and celebratory qualities of energy, joy, fullness, and rebirth.
In walking distance from my apartment is San Francisco’s Arboretum located in Golden Gate Park. I decided that I would make a film now on a single subject and that subject would be the light – not the objects, but the sacredness of the light itself in this splendid garden. What I did not know is that the great beauty of this magnificent spring would bring forth not one, but seven films, each one immediately following the previous. I began to photograph on the second week of February and finished the editing of the seventh film during the last days of December.
These seven films spontaneously manifested as the stages of life: early childhood, youth, maturity, old age, and death. Elohim was photographed in early spring, the week of the lunar new year, the very spirit of creation. Abaton was photographed a few weeks later in the full ripeness of spring, the very purity and intoxication of passion. Coda was photographed in late spring, in the aftermath of this purity, the first shades of mortality and knowledge.
Ode, photographed in early summer, is a soft textured song of the fallen, the dissonant reds of death, seeds, and rebirth. September is indeed, Indian summer, the halcyon swan song of earthly blessings. Monody, shot in the fading autumnal glory is an energized declaration of the end. And Epilogue, photographed in early December, rests in quietude, the garden’s energy now descending into the dark, damp earth.

— entrance is free