1. logbook
      May 2014

      There? Where? Now?

      Jacob Korczynski
    2. A survey of the historical and contemporary writing that has been collected about Babette Mangolte’s The Camera: Je/La Camera: I (1977) reveals that the film has been critically assessed and discussed primarily in relation to her first and third feature length films: What Maisie Knew (1975) and The Cold Eye (My Darling Be Careful) (1980). Together they established an informal trilogy that took as its material the subjective role of the camera eye. In each film the gaze of the viewer coincides with that of the protagonist: the eponymous character of the Henry James novel in What Maisie Knew, Cathy the emerging artist in The Cold Eye (My Darling Be Careful) and Mangolte herself in The Camera: Je/La Camera: I.

      For my ongoing Performance in Residence project that places The Camera: Je/La Camera: I in dialogue with Lucy Lippard’s novel I See/You Mean (1979), I propose to map the research field around Mangolte’s film by framing The Camera: Je/La Camera: I with her first and third short films that bookended its production: (NOW) or maintainent entre parathenses (1976) and There? Where? (1979). At this stage in my research I am positioning these two short films alongside two works by her contemporary Ellie Epp. Like Mangolte, Epp was an artist who worked in photography and began making films in the mid 1970s, an
      era that coincides with a transition from the formalist questions of sound and image advanced by structural film towards feminist practices that incorporated the social and political positions adopted by its makers while critically exploring the limitations of language and the possibilities of narrative.

      Mangolte’s second film, (NOW) was developed while she was producing The Camera: Je/La Camera: I. The connection between the two projects is established through the presence of James Barth and Linda Patton who appear in both films. (NOW) echoes the first half of The Camera: Je/La Camera: I with an intricate choreography enacted by Barth and Patton on a closed set. Like many of the portraits that are posed for in The Camera: Je/La Camera: I the two performers readily engage objects and each other in their intimate duet for Mangolte’s camera.

      Akin to the second half of The Camera: Je/La Camera: I where Mangolte’s camera transitions from the confines of the studio into the expansive urban landscape and its architecture and textures, There? Where? explores the geographic landscape that Mangolte was encountering at the time: the tension between suburban sprawl and nature in southern California. In both films, the camera moves through a series of traveling shots, suggesting that one must pass through the landscape in order to encounter it, in order to understand and organize its image.

      Trapline (1976) was the first film by the Canadian artist Ellie Epp, photographed in London following her post-graduate studies there at the Slade, and produced in part at the Filmmakers Coop. For Trapline, she photographed the spaces and recorded the sounds of a swimming pool scheduled for demolition. As in (NOW), Epp explores the tension between the still and moving image through the use of a fixed frame. While the choreographed movements held still by James Barth and Linda Patton achieve this in Mangolte’s film, Epp realizes this in her film by recording the unsettled surfaces around the pool with the presence of people occasionally flitting through the frame.

      notes in origin (1987) is Epp’s third film that initially developed when she returned to the rural landscape where she lived as a child in northern Alberta. Living on site over a period of three interrupted years from 1977 to 1980, she shot a number of single-take 100 foot rolls of 16mm film that would later become notes in origin. As in There? Where?, each image sequence in Epp’s film is preceded by a number like a chapter, the shots that follow simultaneously organizing and subverting the expectation of the viewer as they anticipate the serial images.

      Through their materialization of multiple images I See/You Mean and The Camera: Je or La Camera: I develop a taxonomy: a taxonomy of the image, a taxonomy of memory, a taxonomy of the self. (NOW), Trapline, There? Where?, and notes in origin are all connected through their use of black leader as a source of discontinuity and uncertainty, a strategy for punctuating and organizing the images that come before and after. In these short films Mangolte and Epp are developing the foundation of their practice, taking steps towards a new language.

      These four films like Lippard’s novel are not a documentation of a process, but a process itself. In each, the materiality of the medium frames the montage of the images to follow, just as the descriptions of the fictional photographs that anchor I See/You Mean are each preceded by their material conditions necessary for the reader to assemble the image. Image as object, image as procedure:

      Black and white, horizontal.1

      Horizontal frame of 16mm colour stock, cut to black leader.

      Color print, horizontal.2

      Horizontal frame of 16mm colour stock, cut to black leader.

      Horizontal black and white rectangle consisting of many fine dotted lines, rounded at the corners, slightly blurred.3

      Horizontal frame of 16mm colour stock, cut to black leader.

      Horizontal, black and white, rounded at corners, sound louder.4

      Horizontal 16mm colour stock, flare out to white.

      1 Lippard, L., I See/You Mean, Los Angeles, Chrysalis Books, 1979, p. 2.
      Ibid., p. 32.
      Ibid., p. 94.
      Ibid., p. 95.

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