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William Raban: Independent Filmmaker
Programme Notes for a screening of William Raban's films at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh USA in November 1976

Tuesday, November 9, 1976 at 8:00 PM


*Diagonal (1973). 5 minutes, color, sound. (3 screen).
*Surface Tension (1974-76). 15 minutes, B&W, sound. (2 screen).
*Angles of Incidence (1973). 10 minutes, color, silent. (2 screen).
Time Stepping (1974). 20 minutes, color, sound.
*Moonshine (1974). 8 minutes, color, silent. (2 screen).
*Colours of This Time (1972). 3 minutes, color, silent.
2' 45"
*At One (1974). 20 minutes, color, sound.
*Take Measure (1973). As long as the throw of light between projector and screen. B&W, silent. (film/performance).
After Eight (1976). 35 minutes, color, sound.

Single and multi-screen films by William Raban.

The first films I made were extensions to my work as a painter. The paintings involved taking impressions from natural surfaces like waves and tree bark. For the 'Tree Print' series canvas was left installed on tree trunks for long periods to weather and discolour. The films made at this time had a similar naturalistic approach towards documenting changes, and were mostly static views of landscapes where various 'time-lapse' systems were used to make slow movements like the rise and drop of tide levels and development of cloud patterns clearly perceptible.

Sky (1970) and River Yar (1971-2) are two of my earliest experiments with multi-screen film presentation. Sky was shot syncronously [sic] with two cameras, and River Yar was filmed over two periods of the same duration. Both these films needed to be projected at precisely the same speed for their full effect. Inevitably this projection requirement caused enormous problems and consequently these films have had very limited screenings.

All the multi-screen films in tonight's performance were intended to take advantage of the small and inevitable fluctuations in projector running speeds.

Diagonal is a film for three projectors, though the diagonally arranged projector beams need not be contained within a single flat screen area. This film works well in a conventional film theatre when the top left screen spills over the ceiling and the bottom right projects down over the audience. It is the same image on all three screens - a double exposed flickering rectangle of the projector gate sliding diagonally in-and-out of frame. Focus is on the projector shutter, hence the flicker. This film is 'about' the projector gate, the plane where the film frame is caught by the projected light beam." (Catalogue of The Festival of Expanded Cinema, London. January, 1976)

Surface Tension "an emphatically black & white two screen film of jabbing angles and drifting parallelograms that can be read as either flat or receeding [sic] in depth -- the two screens together presenting a constructivist play of abstract forms in space." (David Curtis)

Each screen has its own soundtrack. The soundtrack is the picture, the picture is the sound. (The London Film Co-op has its own film contact-printer [sic]

At One A handheld camera explores the space of a domestic interior. A radio on the kitchen table provides the sound track of programme news, weather forecast, time signal and news headlines. The same procedure is repeated the next day with the camera duplicating the patterns of movement established on the first take.

The two sequences are presented in consecutive order, as two separate chunks of time. The tension between the difference in time of the two takes and the sameness of the space and the filming procedure discourages an interpretive [sic] reading of the film image.

In the second half of the film, the two original takes are projected in alternating sequence, these paired sections of the film were not cut and spliced together, but refilmed from the screen. The original film is thus seen one generation away with the attendant loss of definition, increased grain and contrast as a film of a film. This distancing of the film image gives further weight to the sense of duration of each section of time. The film demands to be experienced directly rather than interpreted. It is the 'nowness' of the moment that is important.

Take Measure measures the space between the projector and screen. The length of the film depends on the throw of the projector beam.

After Eight takes three views in different locations and knits them together into a continuous lineal thread of time. For thirty-five minutes the film 'flicks' from London streetmarket, to seaside resort, to open farmland. Each view is framed by a window. At times the camera makes incursions into the interior space, sometimes fixing on a radio set that dominates the film soundtrack. The radio news-programme maintains continuity with each change of place indicating a unity of time in the three locations.

"The movements of the camera are scripted according to a score, so that a panning movement of the camera, or a "zoom-in" to close-up may have no causal relation with outside events. The same score determines the starting and stopping of the camera, so that sometimes actions are truncated before completion.

"The camera movements are formal. Starting from long static views the panning movements develop by equal amounts in the three places: a shift of view from left-to-right in one location is echoed by the same movement in the next space. The camera procedure, and the way of filming interior/exterior space divided by a window frame, which sometimes dissolves into the screen edges (film frame) suggests a co-ordinated syncronism [sic] between the camera operators, and reinforces the sense of time unity established by the soundtrack." ('Edinburgh 76 Magazine', from the 30th Edinburgh International Film Festival)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23 -- INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER BRUCE CONNER, well-known for his A Movie and Report, will be present to show and discuss his two most recent films, Take The 5:10 To Dreamland and Crossroads. Museum of Art Theater, 8:00. Admission: $l.OO.

Carnegie Institute Programme Notes
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