Interaction of Formats: Color in Film and Video

December 13 & 19, 2016
Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium
Portland, Oregon
for Cinema Project in collaboration with the Northwest Film Center

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is
—as it physically is.
This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

In order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize
that color deceives continually…

—Josef Albers, Interaction of Color

The program title Interaction of Formats is a direct reference to the 1963 educational text by painter Josef Albers (Interaction of Color), which presents a number of visual exercises as a way to understand and perceive color. In it he writes, “color is the most relative medium in art.” And while Albers is considering how painted or printed colors interact and influence one another, that concept of color relativity can also be applied to colors presented as projected light. This two part program highlights first the relativity of color and what each individual viewer might bring to it, but also considers the specificity of moving-image formats.

Part One:
Color Correction by Margaret Honda (US, 2015, 35mm, color, silent, 101 min.)

The film is pure color, silent, and can only be seen on 35mm. The camera-less production simultaneously relies on and exists outside of the Hollywood studio industry, prompting questions about medium, apparatus, and the cinematic experience. It is an evocative intersection of (purely) visual arts and the film industry.

Color Correction is Honda’s second film, having primarily worked in sculpture as well as performance, photography, and installation. A native Southern Californian, Honda is based in Los Angeles. Her work, regardless of medium, often seeks to interrogate the processes through which objects are produced.

Part Two:
Color Aid by Richard Serra (US, 1971, 16mm, color, sound, 36 min.)
Color Without Color by Phyllis Baldino (US, 1999, video, b&w, sound, 19 min.)
2001 Colors Andy Never Thought Of by George Barber (US, 2015, HD, color, sound, 5.5 min.)
American Colour by Joshua Bonetta (US, 2011, 16mm to HD, color, sound, 25 min.)

Part Two includes four short works. First, the 1971 16mm film Color Aid by Richard Serra, a former student of Albers and who is most well-known for his large-scale sculptures using industrial materials. Then from 1999 is Color Without Color, a standard-definition black-and-white video from artist Phyllis Baldino about the condition achromatopsia, the inability to see color. Baldino works mainly in conceptual art that merges performance, video, and sculpture and often uses low-tech equipment in her videos in order to create straightforward documentation of processes. Next, a wild HD piece from George Barber from 2015 called  2001 Colors Andy Never Thought Of that manipulates Andy Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe painting. Barber is a Guyanian artist and was a leader in the UK Scratch Video movement of the early 1980s in which artists applied fast-cutting and multi-layered rhythm to found video footage. Finally is American Colour from Canadian filmmaker and musician Joshua Bonetta, whose music albums have been released with Senufo Edition, Experimedia, and Shelter Press. His short work is an American landscape film from 2011 produced with the last rolls of Kodachrome film stock.

Our concern is the interaction of color; that is, seeing
what happens between colors.

We are able to hear a single tone.
But we almost never (that is, without special devices) see a single color
unconnected and unrelated to other colors.
Colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to
changing neighbors and changing conditions.

—Josef Albers, Interaction of Color