By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Similar releases of more talked-about than seen films by Maya Deren, Jean Painlevé, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jules Engel, Kenneth Anger, Norman McLaren, Oskar Fischinger and many others — as well as anthologies from Kino on Video (Avant-Garde), Anthology Film Archives (Unseen Cinema) and the aforementioned National Film Preservation Foundation have resulted in an unprecedented infusion of widespread public attention to the entire spectrum and history of noncommercial cinema. But there remain enormous untapped reserves of seminal celluloid awaiting release — the oeuvres of underground heroes Bruce Conner and Harry Smith remain mysteriously unavailable, while many contemporary film artists, like Matthew Barney, choose to keep their work isolated in the blue chip ghetto of The Art World, available only as high-end limited editions.
The range of what is yet to be rediscovered can be glimpsed in Art Cinema, a handsome volume recently issued by Taschen that attempts to grapple with the sprawling, century-long trail of nonmainstream cinema. Even excluding non-Western experimental traditions, animation and Internet video (now there's a can of worms!), the 190 pages just expose the tip of the Unseen Cinema iceberg. Written by L.A.-based writer and curator Paul Young (who recently — and almost single-handedly — pulled together Remote Viewing, a museum-quality survey of contemporary art film and video at the Pacific Design Center), Art Cinema runs the gamut from Emile Cohl's 1908 proto-surrealist stop-motion pumpkin race to Brakhage associate Phil Solomon's as-yet-unfinished American Falls, an epic hauntological "cine-mural" designed as an installation for the rotunda at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.
Along the lavishly illustrated way, Young manages to touch upon the usual cinematic suspects — Eisenstein, Vertov, Buñuel, Marker, Warhol, Snow (and O'Neill) — but also focuses considerable attention on recent art-world crossovers like Paul McCarthy, Marnie Weber and Jeremy Blake. It's the kind of book that in the predigital era could have been a solitary lifeline to an isolated Midwestern art freak, and would make a perfect gift for a nephew or niece who wants to get into filmmaking. Now more than ever, it's important to start them off in the wrong direction.
STARTING TO GO BAD: NEW NARRATIVES BY PAT O'NEILL | Mon., May 10, 8:30 p.m. | REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall | 631 W. 2nd St., L.A. | $9 ($7 students) | (213) 237-2800 | redcat.org
ART CINEMA | Taschen | By PAUL YOUNG | Hardcover, 192 pages | $30