Colour, Sound + Silent, 78 min
Published/distributed by Anthology Film Archives
Region 0, NTSC
(Including VAT at 20%)
The seven films in this Visible Energy collection were made in the 1950s. Each is about ten minutes long.
This DVD contains:
One of Davis symphonic light works, featuring overlapping planes of light which were created with multiple exposures in his camera (Davis had no access to an optical printer). An earlier version of this film was called Processes, but it no longer exists. Davis felt that Impulses was one of his best films, and dedicated it to his niece Elizabth Hart Guiher.
Pertaining to Marin, photographed in 1950 but not edited and released until 1953
The second of two Davis portraits of the American artist he greatly admired. Both were made at Marin's request, despite Davis' reluctance (he felt no aptitude for making documentary films, and called this and the others about Frank Lloyd Wright semi-documentaries). The sound of this film is of the kind widely used in that decade, and it dates the film.
Like a Breeze, 1954
Shows Davis transforming common images (mainly flags) into his fluid, abstract, transient forms.
One of Davis' most successful combinations of abstract imagery and a music score (composed by Norman DeMarco). The film was made for exhibition at the Brussels World's Fair where it was shown alongside new works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and Shirley Clarke, among others.
Taliesin West, 1950 and Taliesin East, 1950
Were semi-documentaries made at the request of architect Frank Lloyd Wright who trusted no other film-maker. As in the case of his John Marin portraits, we can sense Davis' unease in these two films. Neither has the sense of form that infuses his abstract films.
Pertaining to Chicago, 1957
uses abstract sequences to punctuate the more conventional urban scenes of blight industry, and architecture by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Like the Taliesin films, this portrait of Chicago has a somewhat rigid structure (which Davis surmounted in his Pennsylvania/Chicago/Illinois of 1958).
James Edward Davis (1901-74) began making films in 1946, at first to document his experiments in light sculpture, but then to explore how the motion picture could enlarge the scope of his work as an artist, and extend the understanding of nature. Davis' encounter with motion pictures came at a time (post-World War II) and at a place (Princeton University) where the pace of change and discovery was the only constant. His belief in the force of change and growth can be seen in key words that appear in the titles of his films: becoming, transfiguration, transformation, flow, and evolution. Scientific curiosity and artistic innovation led him to make scores of films. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s he was known (to a small but influential audience) for his symphonic, color abstractions. But he also made documentary portraits of Frank Lloyd Wright and John Marin, and of the City of Chicago. He also made films of the American landscape, of his own paintings, of the impact of water on the terrain of West Virginia and New Jersey. And not the least, he promoted the recognition of cinema as the art form (what he called the only dynamic art) that offered pertinent insight into the experience of the twentieth century. A member of the first postwar generation of experimental film-makers, his films were invite