Monday, November 1, 2010

Anthony McCall

We lucked out and stumbled upon an amazing film event on Saturday in Brooklyn. Experimental filmmaker Anthony McCall showed "Line Describing a Cone" and several other of his solid-light films from the early 1970s. These are films which fix your attention not on the screen but on the light itself as it emerges from the projector and hangs in the air. "Line Describing a Cone" consists initially of a solid beam of light, which over the course of thirty minutes traces out a hollow conical shape that viewers are invited to orient their bodies around (or through). I didn't take the photo above -- it's the only one I've found that actually approximates the 3D sculptural quality of the light. One interesting detail was that the air in the room needed to be sufficiently smoky and hazy for the light to be visible. McCall had set up a mist machine, but a lot of viewers pitched in by lighting up cigarettes and other smokables. When the laser beam finished its route and the cone of light was finally in place the audience erupted in a euphoric standing ovation that lasted for some time. It was really quite moving.

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