SALON POPULAIRE (KUNSTSAELE BERLIN)
Opening Wednesday 09.02. 18:00-21:00
In 1971 I made Time & A Half, a day-in-the-life fiction film about a factory worker. It was shot in my hometown of Milwaukee. While in Toronto last fall I saw Harun Farocki’s installation, Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades (2006) and I thought of Time & A Half, or more precisely, I recalled I had made a shot of my protagonist (played by John Krieg) exiting the Falk Corporation at the end of the work day. When I returned to California I located an old 16mm print of Time & A Half and projected it onto my studio wall. The shot in question was 14 seconds long. In it my actor leaves the factory along with other workers, crosses the street and walks along a chain-link fence, and finally stops to wait for a crossing light. I thought I’d make a copy of the shot and send it to Harun. Using my digital HD camera I filmed the 14-second shot choosing a shutter setting by trial and error that would help eliminate any flicker caused by the film projector. I simply played with the different settings available for Speed, Angle, ECS Frequency, and SLS Frame until the flicker disappeared from my digital viewfinder; but I must admit, I don’t even know what ECS Frequency and SLS Frame means. I then loaded the shot into my computer and looked at it using Final Cut Pro. There was no flicker whatsoever but it appeared a bit soft, or that something else was going on. So I slowed the playback down to get a better look, and then I made it even slower, in fact 300 times slower. The 14-second shot was now a 71 minutes film. The flicker disappeared because the shudder setting I chose was gathering 4 or 5 frames at a time; and then by using frame blending I was able to create a look that mimicked Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. This was too good to be true; I never sent the film to Harun, sorry mate. Instead I created a 71-minute work called John Krieg Exiting the Falk Corporation in 1971 that was installed at La Cienega Projects in Los Angeles last fall. In 2009 I was commissioned by the Jeonju Film Festival to make a short film for their annual Digital Projects, to be shown in 2010. I made Pig Iron, 31 minutes of trains collecting pig iron (the raw material used to make steel) from a blast furnace in Duisburg, Germany. The film is in real time and has a strong dramatic narrative structure.
James Benning, born 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lives and works in Val Verde, California (USA). He is a professor at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1971 I made Time & A Half, a day-in-the-life fiction film about a factory worker. It was shot in my hometown of Milwaukee.
Format: 2-channel HD-video projection, color, sound, 31 minutes.