Harry Smith: Early Abstractions and the Animation of Bodily Rhythm
Mar 22, 2014
Special introduction by Chuck Kleinhans, co-editor of Jump Cut media journal!
He collected paper airplanes, Seminole textiles and Ukrainian Easter Eggs. He recorded Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs and the peyote songs of the Kiowa Indians. He was "shaman in residence" at Naropa Institute and the world's leading authority on string figures. And this was only the tip of the dazzling intellectual iceberg that was Harry Smith (1923–1991)—painter, filmmaker, musicologist, anthropologist, linguist, translator, collector, occultist and eccentric genius of the 20th-century underground.
This program is dedicated to the early films of Harry Smith, the pioneering American filmmaker and ethno-musicologist born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Smith's early film experiments, known as the Early Abstractions, drew on his passion for American folk art and music, from indigenous song rituals and textiles, to syncopated jazz beats and Yiddish prayer. In these diverse cultural forms, Smith discovered different ways that bodily rhythms were animated and channeled through audiovisual forms.
Smith described his own experiments with hand-painting film as a meditative practice that transmuted the body's vitality into moving images. The films in this program explore Smith's legacy in abstract animation, putting his work in conversation with some of his contemporaries and current film artists, who also explore the rhythmic and somatic dimensions of animated movement.
The program includes numerous rarely screened film prints, original live accompaniment to Smith's Early Abstractions led by Lori Goldston, and a live performance by Seattle-based filmmaker and musician Eric Ostrowski. Special introduction by Chuck Kleinhans, Northwestern University professor emeritus and co-editor of Jump Cut media journal.
Organized by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) in collaboration with Northwest Film Forum. Sponsored by three SCMS scholarly interest groups: Experimental Film and Media (ExFM); Cinema and Art History (CinemArts); and Animated Media. Program curated by Alla Gadassik and Rani Singh. Special thank you to Kaveh Askari.
Harry Smith, Early Abstractions (1946-1952), 23 min
Live musical accompaniment by Lori Goldston and friends
Storm de Hirsch, Third Eye Butterfly (1968), 10 min
Len Lye, Color Cry (1952), 3 min
Izabella Pruska-Oldenhoff, Fugitive L(i)ght (2005), 9 min
Eric Ostrowski, original film + live accompaniment
Hy Hirsh, Eneri (1953), 7 min
Jud Yalkut, Us Down By The Riverside (1966), 3 min
Jodie Mack, Glistening Thrills (2013), 8 min
Harry Smith, Film Number 15: Untitled Seminole Patchwork Film, (ca. 1965-66), 10 min (provided by Rani Singh)
Organized by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) in collaboration with Northwest Film Forum. Sponsored by three SCMS scholarly interest groups: Experimental Film and Media (ExFM); Cinema and Art History (CinemArts);and Animated Media. Program curated by Alla Gadassik and Rani Singh. Special thank you to Kaveh Askari.