Light + Sound Machine Presents… WAVELENGTH

d. Michael Snow, 1964-200, trt 99m, 16mm

(Michael Snow | 1967 | 45 minutes | Color | 16mm)
Elemental, uncompromising, physical and yet completely intangible — explaining Michael Snow’s 1967 Wavelength is like explaining light itself. This 45-minute tracking shot is one of the most influential experimental films of all time, elegantly cutting to and straight through the essence of the filmic experience. A long, slow zoom (meticulously pieced together from shorter segments) almost imperceptibly moves towards an object on the opposite wall of a room. Occasional flare-ups of light mark the passing of days, people stumble into the frame, and someone even dies, but the passing of time as humans experience it seems almost incidental. This is a purely formal world, where the unalterable path of the camera — not human concerns like story or time — is what forms the experience. Like its original sine-wave drone soundtrack, the film’s visual variations can be hypnotic, maddening, or transcendent, but there’s no doubt that this film, like light, isn’t just visual. Whether it’s a sunburn or a warm glow, you’ll definitely feel it.
– from Cinefamily

“‘Wavelength’ is without precedent in the purity of its confrontation with the essence of cinema: the relationships between illusion and fact, space and time, subject and object. It is the first post-Warhol, post-Minimal movie; one of the few films to engage those higher conceptual orders which occupy modern painting and sculpture. It has rightly been described as a ‘triumph of contemplative cinema.’”
– Gene Youngblood, L.A. Free Press, 1968

preceded by

Snow’s first major film work, featuring a legendary free jazz score by Albert Ayler and Don Cherry, this rarely-screened landmark of the North American avant-garde incorporates Snow’s “walking woman” works, in which an instantly recognizable flat sculpture, often seen in silhouette, is placed in a variety of real-world situations.
– Film Studies Center