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On Snow's Wavelength, Zoom Out
A Film by Teri Wehn-Damisch
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film stillThe peerless, unclassifiable artist Michael Snow has been experimenting since the 1960's in almost every field of artistic endeavor, including photography, cinema, music, sculpture, painting and holography. In ON SNOW'S WAVELENGTH - ZOOM OUT, filmmaker Teri Wehn-Damisch takes us into Snow's world by reversing the slow zoom-in of "Wavelength," the artist's influential experimental film. Commented on and accompanied by Snow at the piano, the zoom-out becomes a progressive discovery of the artist's works.

In 1967, Snow won first prize at the prestigious experimental film festival at Knokke-le-Zoute for "Wavelength." Despite its apparent simplicity, "Wavelength" had a tremendous impact on the evolution of film as a medium, and became an instantaneous avant-garde classic, setting a new standard for originality and rigor.

"Wavelength" explores a temporal dimension, narrating the time and space of Snow's loft. He describes the film as a continuous zoom that takes 45 minutes to move from its widest field to the narrowest, final frame - a black and white photograph of a wave pinned to the far wall of his loft. "It is a structural film," says film critic P. Adams Stitney, "it creates its primal impression with its overall shape."


ZOOM OUT borrows the concept of "Wavelength," but inverts the process by starting with a narrow field - the photograph of the wave fills the first frame - and ending it its widest field, unveiling a miniature set with seven screens and a grand piano.

The seven screens project film fragments, each beginning with a close up of Snow driving through Toronto. As the city flashes by on the screens, and day turns into night, the camera slowly, methodically zooms out. As the frame widens, the filmed fragments concentrate on Snow's photography and film related works, and demonstrate Snow's evolution as an artist.

Snow himself is on one of the screens. With clarity and humor he reflects on the medium specific investigations recurrent in his work, such as the thinness of the image, scale, light, transparency, camera movements, framing, self-reference or autobiography.

When the zoom out is complete, the installation is revealed in its entirety. Seven screens are animated by projected light as Michael Snow appears "live on the set," bringing his piano solo to its grand finale.

National Film Board of Canada Prize for Creativity, 2002 Montreal International Festival of Films on Art
2002 Seattle Underground Film Festival

56 minutes / Color
Release: 2002
Copyright: 2001

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Cinema Studies, Music

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