Chicago’s Own: Creating Light

Thomas Gosser’s Ingredients is the best thing on this program of local experimental work and one of the strongest first films I’ve ever seen. Given a class assignment to make his own movie camera out of ordinary materials, Gosser built a box whose imperfect functioning becomes a key element in the film. He balances jittery, suggestive imagery of a city at night against printed titles that list all the “ingredients” used to make the film, and the disparity between the image and the text reminded me of the way Jasper Johns uses words in his paintings: language that appears simple becomes mysterious, almost mute. Most of the other films make similarly engaging references to the materials of filmmaking. Brian Ramisch’s Left Alone With My Horseshoes On presents a self-questioning combination of images: shots of water and bugs, frames within frames, and pure abstraction. For Iota, Carolyn Faber rephotographed a found home movie, slowing it down and making the grain more sensual. In Kenneth Eisenstein’s somewhat trippy If You Could Wring Jupiter Like a Towel, and Other Creation Myths a voice-over wonders, “How shall I begin?” and the film later describes how all earth’s matter originated in stars as images of outer space appear on-screen. But Jake Mahaffy’s self-indulgent Egypt Hollow, an obscure story involving a boy and his father, reminded me how often an “experimental narrative” is just a fiction film with an indecipherable plot. On the same program, Bea Bellino’s Birthday Wish. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Friday, March 26, 7:00, 773-384-5533. –Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ingredients film still.