Splices’ Highlighted In 7th Punto y Raya Festival of Abstract Films In Vienna, Austria


Image: Splices for Sharits  (1980)


In July, I was notified by the Barcelona-based organizers of the Punto y Raya Festival that my super-8 silent film, Splices for Sharits, had been curated into this year’s Dot&Line program of abstract films. The organization holds annual editions of their festival in various international cities. Extensive screenings are scheduled on November 26-28, 2021, in three museums. The venues are each in Vienna; Austrian FilmMuseum, Blickle Kino and Künstlerhaus.

Obviously, this film was made in homage to Paul Sharits, a maker of what used to be called ‘structural’ films. I identified with his obsessiveness. While teaching at a Detroit art college, I initiated a visiting artist program to selfishly invite poets, musicians, fiction writers and generally speaking, ‘image artists; Stan Brakhage, Ed Ruscha, Laurie Anderson, Jonas Mekas, B.H. Friedman, Lawrence Joseph, Joan Jonas, Robert Irwin and Paul Sharits among them. Paul brought his three projector film, 3rd Degree, to show and discuss with the students. Driving back to the airport, we talked about his fetish sculptures and the s8 film I had made with him in mind. He requested I send him a print and he responded favorably with a warm letter of thanks. But best of all, he delivered the perfect punchline - - “Of course you know, Joe, I have assistants make all my splices”.  

This film came slowly into existence by the production of a great many cement splices, cut into selected frames, studied with a loupe. Short filmstrips collaged with splices every few frames were then joined (by more splices) and fed onto a reel. My tripod-mounted camera, focused on the Hervic Minette editor screen, became, collectively, a homemade, single-frame copy station. The individually spliced images were rephotographed, frame by frame and arranged into four distinct movements - each separated by sections of black - as in a 5½ minute concerto. Though the speed of the movements vary, (fast, slow, slower, very fast), the one constant is the splice bar, maintaining a surrealistic, almost dream-like landscape/ horizon-line, at times. This short film emphatically serves up nothing but a veritable barrage of what’s been kept out of every single feature movie-film ever made.