Joseph Bernard

Posting #30

Posted on February 09, 2022

The 25th anniversary celebration of Media City Film Festival will include a truly international virtual screening of Whale Watch (1).



Image: Whale Watch (1)  (1981)


Copy supplied by Media City Film Festival is as follows…

Media City Film Festival (MCFF), Windsor-Detroit’s annual international festival for film and digital art, announces the full scope of its 25th anniversary virtual edition: February 8–March 1, 2022.

In an act of global solidarity, all 70+ films featuring some of cinema’s most ardent pioneers are available to view for free in full open access globally for the duration of this amazing virtual event:

MCFF 2022 features an eclectic selection of films streaming across three sections: International, Spotlight and Regional. Audiences will gain unfettered access to incredible new works, world premieres, restorations, amateur films, and historical masterpieces from legendary artists and filmmakers including Tracey Moffatt, Sergei Parajanov, Sky Hopinka, Ulysses Jenkins, Cecilia Vicuña, Carolee Schneemann, Tony Cokes, Ute Aurand, Karpo Godina, and dozens more. Highlights hail from Windsor-Detroit, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Armenia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, across Canada and around the world. 

Whale Watch (1) is available for viewing in the Regional category. For the duration of the festival, the film can be viewed here. Supporting material regarding my entry is available by scrolling downward beneath the film.

My notes on this and its companion title are as follows;

Shot weeks apart, I made two films of personal sightings while on public outings, in the company of the great mammals off Cape Cod. Like icebergs, very little of their bulk, beyond shimmering back and a rearmost dorsal fin is visible as they glide the surface. These forty-ton humpbacks power dive with a grace and purpose that had me conjuring their descending views; diminishing jagged streaks of light into plummeting depths of darkness.


Image: Whale Watch (1)  (1981)

Posting #28

Posted on August 06, 2021

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. 



Posting #17

Posted on March 03, 2017

PRISMATIC MUSIC series of screenings closes in London

The final program of PRISMATIC MUSIC is scheduled for March 30, 2017 at CLOSE-UP FILM CENTRE in London, England. This show is under the auspices of Brand New Blinkers; co-founded by Jack Wormell and Andy Sowerby. 




Over the past two years, these solo screenings have generated a positive response to the small, silent works in this Blu-ray collection. The scheduling and presentations have been uniquely curated for each venue with running times ranging between 70-90 minutes.

I’m grateful to the programmers in England, Spain and numerous American cities who’ve made these screenings possible.  

Posting #13

Posted on May 07, 2016

Third Man Records, here in Detroit, hosted a second screening of PRISMATIC MUSIC.


Following the films on April 28, 2016, Greg Baise and I provided a Q&A, along with the audience.


Posting #12

Posted on April 24, 2016




Presented by Third Man Records and the Belcourt Theatre 

Thursday, April 28, 2016 - Films at 8:00pm sharp (Doors at 7:00pm) - Tickets: $10


Third Man Records  |  Cass Corridor  |  441 W. Canfield, Detroit 

View Trailer (from Nashville show)


Posting #11

Posted on April 02, 2016




Presented by Third Man Records and the Belcourt Theatre - Nashville

Tue, Apr 19 at 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00pm)

Location: The Blue Room at Third Man Records, 623 7th Ave South | Click here to see map
Tickets: $10 / $8 Belcourt Members | Click here to BUY TICKETS

Filmmaker Joseph Bernard will present his films in person, followed by a Q&A.

Joseph Bernard, a painter, mixed-media artist and former student of Stan Brakhage, made over 100 works on 8mm film over the course of just one decade (1975-85). Punctuated by an ever-shifting conceptual framework and Bernard's nomadic state of being, the films are kaleidoscopic abstractions of light and texture, as well as personal expressions and a mode of self-inquiry. They dually create an ethereal space while invoking the specific locale of their creation (Detroit, Chicago, New York, and the salty oceanfront of Provincetown, MA). In 1985, Bernard withdrew from filmmaking completely, frustrated by the cost of materials. As Phil Coldiron notes in a recent Cinema Scope feature on Bernard, "American experimental cinema is considerably poorer for both the brevity and obscurity of his career.”

Now, after three decades of purgatory, Bernard's films have been resurrected and are enjoying a second life. The original 8mm masters have been digitally scanned and restored, and are receiving overdue praise and exhibition across the country. Forty of them have been assembled in a stunning Blu-ray retrospective, titled PRISMATIC MUSIC. Bernard has selected several of his works to be exhibited in two thematically distinct programs for Third Man Record's Nashville and Detroit locations. The screenings each offer a unique lineup, prefaced by an introduction from Bernard himself.   - - James Cathcart                            View Trailer: (Joseph Bernard - PRISMATIC MUSIC on YouTube, made by Third Man Records)


Three Portraits:   

ANOTHER MIRROR (1977, 5:15 min.)

J.S.B. AT 9 (1978, 2:31 min.)


Life, Love, Sex & Death:


Inside the Idea of Film:

RITUAL (1979, 2:42 min.)

SPLICES FOR SHARITS (1980, 5:27 min.)

THE FUNCTION OF FILM (1982, 7:58 min.)

Extended Possibilities:

NIGHT MIX (1982, 10:52 min.)

FILM FOR UNTITLED VIEWER (1983, 2:36 min.)

VARIANT CHANTS (1983, 15:51 min.)


Posting #9

Posted on February 27, 2016


                                  Text from poster:

Visual artist Joseph Bernard was born in Port Chester, N.Y., later educated at Hartford Art School and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied with experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. For 35 years, Professor Emeritus Bernard taught fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Abstract “collage” sensibilities are evident in his paintings, films, and photographs. Contemporary poetry and music remain as influences. His work is informed by travels to Provincetown, Southern California, Austin, and other locales. His films have been exhibited at Toronto’s Funnel Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Chicago Filmmakers, San Francisco Cinematheque, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others. This series is sponsored by The Media School, Underground Film Series, and IU Cinema.