Joseph Bernard

Posting #23

Posted on June 08, 2019

Dublin Pairing with Historic Overtones

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In April 2019, I received an invitation from the renowned Irish filmmaker and curator, Dean Kavanagh, to share an exhibition of my films with those of the Parisian avant-garde pioneer, Germaine Dulac. The screening would be programed by aemi and presented at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin. 

This proposed union would be based on both oeuvres relishing movement,  sharing technical/ musical structures while existing in silence and the inner shifting rhythms of our work providing a dialogue of commonality; hers in b&w, mine in color. Neither of us had ever shown our films previously in Ireland.

Along with Alice Butler and Daniel Fitzpatrick, co-directors of aemi, Dean Kavanagh selected titles for the show, produced a stunning silent trailer, commissioned a poster and provided a Q&A following the program. I’m grateful for their combined efforts in making this such a unique and glorious event.  

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Prismatic Music: Films by Joseph Bernard & Germaine Dulac

19 June 2019 / 18.30 / Irish Film Institute

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aemi is delighted to present ‘Prismatic Music: Films by Joseph Bernard & Germaine Dulac’, a programme curated with filmmaker Dean Kavanagh. 

American experimental filmmaker Joseph Bernard created over 100 silent, super-8mm films during the 1970s and 1980s. Bernard foregrounds a tactile and sensory approach creating intricate works that exude a dizzying musicality. Germaine Dulac (1882-1942) was a French filmmaker and key figure in the historical avant-garde. A proponent of ‘pure cinema’ Dulac’s silent 16mm and 35mm films proposed an affinity with dance that anticipated the work of Maya Deren. Together Bernard and Dulac’s complex rhythms and shifting textures represent luminous highlights in the development of a non-narrative cinema.

This event will feature a recorded introduction from filmmaker Joseph Bernard. It will also be followed by a Q&A with Dean Kavanagh.

Germaine and I were introduced by our friend Dean, who provided us a stately meld of a dance set to the magnificent silence of Prismatic Music. To witness this feat of cinematic enchantment… CLICK HERE.

To hear the interview with Dean Kavanagh and Alice Butler on Dublin City Rewind Review (103.2 FM) on June 13, 2019, please visit the station's Soundcloud page CLICK HERE.

 

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Germaine Dulac

 

Alice, Daniel and Dean had numerous discussions about the intentions and merits of the Prismatic Music program and its subjects. They formalized a three-page version that was then given to the audience as introductory screening notes.  Their insightful exchange is offered directly below. 

Prismatic Music: Films by Joseph Bernard & Germaine Dulac   Curated by aemi & Dean Kavanagh

A DISCUSSION ON THE FILMS OF JOSEPH BERNARD & GERMAINE DULAC BETWEEN AEMI'S ALICE BUTLER & DANIEL FITZPATRICK AND CO-CURATOR DEAN KAVANAGH

AB: With both Germaine Dulac and Joseph Bernard there is a clear pleasure found in looking and in capturing or distorting the qualities of a human gaze through the singular capabilities of the camera. Can you talk a little bit about what inspires you about seeing the work of these two filmmakers together in a single programme?

DK: Both filmmakers are exploring movement in different ways: Dulac with composition, lighting, performance and forms of optical printing, while Bernard obstructs his lens and also utilises time-lapse and various in-camera as well as camera-less techniques. In many ways their approach liberates the composition from the fixture of the tripod, to poorly paraphrase filmmaker Maya Deren. The idea of seeing and looking is very important to the work of both filmmakers. The idea of these films dancing and making music together is so remarkable and exciting. Here we are presented with two very distinct voices operating outside the industry at different sides of the century, it’s a programme celebrating the language of cinema more than anything else.

DF: The programme combines material from the period at the end of the silent era (a particularly fervent period which is now referred to as the historical avant-garde when artists from other disciplines began to take up the film camera) with work from the 1970 and 80s, an often overlooked period of experimental film. What is missing here is the more canonised period in the 1960s and early 70s, dominated by figures like Stan Brakhage. While the 60s was dominated by 16mm the 1970s and 80s saw artists working in film drift towards other mediums including Super8 and video. Joseph Bernard is obviously part of this shift but work from this period is often seen as being motivated by a necessary break with the past and figures like Brakhage. Is that the case with Joseph Bernard do you think?

DK: Bernard came to filmmaking at the age of 34, which by his own admission is quite late. Before this he had set-up a successful practice as a painter, an artform he’d been developing since he was 15. In the mid 1970s while this whole shift was taking place he was just getting started. His influences came from painting and the abstract expressionists, and in cinema he drew much counsel from work by that earlier period of artists, filmmakers such as Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren. And these debts are forever acknowledged by Bernard, in particular Full Circle (1984) being a touching tribute to Brakhage whom he studied under for an MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the earlier part of that decade. Super8mm stock was readily available and a modest expense but still an expense nonetheless for someone operating outside any financial support. I don’t think Bernard held a strong interest in the popular trends of the time or the shifting media landscape. He wanted to chase the light and see where it could take him. It’s worth noting that while his films are populated with friends, family, vacations and diurnal excursions there is something resolutely nocturnal about it all; the outside world is glimpsed through windows and crevices created by bodies, prisms, shadow, paint and bleach. His films frequently feature the workshop environment and document their own creation, in some cases forming an infinite loop of making and unmaking. I think what motivated him more so than any trend or turn in the scene was an idea of what cinema could be and how he could contribute to that personally, as Bresson said “make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” Joseph Bernard is now considered by many to have been the filmmaker working in Detroit during that time. It is interesting to note that he has remarked on that decade of film production as “ten years of solitary confinement”. He was an outsider to the outsiders, in many ways. 

DF: Do you think there is still relevance in the notion of a ‘pure cinema’, that with which Dulac is often associated? And do you think this would be configured differently now?

DK: The notion of returning to a more expressive form of film grammar is a welcome thought. There are many artists working today in the fringes of the commercial model and beyond who would harmonise with the philosophy of ‘pure cinema’. The beauty of the impressionist films from the 1920s is rooted in Kuleshov, or in some cases challenging that model. The universality of a visual language, simplistic or complex in form, is an important aspect with regard to these very elemental films, and these notions are very close to many ideas held in music. Beyond the work undertaken by the experimental and underground filmmakers that followed, not much has changed between the cinema of today and a film from 1927, for example. The current wave of ‘immersive experiences’ like 3D, 4DX, BarcoEscape, Dolby Atmos etc, were all preconfigured in the early half of the 20th century, and forms of 3D are obviously pre-cinema. Once again we can consider our relationship to music. Today you can do just about anything in music and it is acceptable- even in the pop charts. Cinema is not even two hundred years old but there is a strict pressure for it to be this one specific thing. Holding any medium to ransom in this way greatly reduces the gamut of expression but also creates an underground. And so, technology has evolved but little else has changed, what remains is a resilient desire to fill the screen rather than think about it. But that’s mainly within the commercial model, outside of that are many exciting films being made but access and dissemination are what is lacking.

DF: When we were programming this screening we played around with different combinations of silence and sound/music considering at one point a configuration that would have had a song or piece of music play before each film in order to set the tone for what the spectator would then encounter silently. We finally came to the conclusion that there is enough ‘music’ already present in what is an entirely silent programme and that by introducing other elements we were in danger of distracting from the written-in-musicality of the films themselves. What is your sense of the musicality of the programme and how do you feel it differs across the two artists’ work?

DK: Those were exciting dialogues and it would be a very different programme if we included sound material. Work by these filmmakers has screened with a musical pairing in the past but something about these particular films and the combination of artists demanded silence in this case. I think we came to the right conclusion because the silence is such an integral part of the experience. According to biographer Tami Williams, Dulac described music as her earliest and most profound love and in it she found “joys of a magnificent intensity”. The attention to detail, rhythm and mise-en-scène in her films produce something that is almost audible. Bernard studied music in his formative years and he explores images in an expressively fragmented nature with seemingly opposing elements, which develop and often resolve like polyrhythm in music. Dulac and Bernard’s films are often referred to as visual music; concertos for the eyes. It’s quite clear that both filmmakers were deeply influenced by the world of sound with Dulac being inspired by the work of Chopin and Wagner, and Bernard drawing inspiration from John Cage and his writings.

AB: What do you think films by Dulac and Bernard can offer contemporary audiences that isn’t otherwise available to them elsewhere in visual culture? What is it ultimately that marks them both out for you, that makes them worthy of this focused attention at this time? Joseph Bernard talks about using the camera to speak his mind ‘not cerebrally but visually’. This is somewhat in contrast to a shift we’ve seen in more recent years towards a more intellectual or academic focus in artist moving image and experimental cinema.

DK: This is the dominant infrastructure. In art schools you are shaped and prepared to fit and function within the outside world, like an astronaut going to the moon. Everything is packaged very carefully and the work is mostly concept driven, which may not be a total negative, but of course it must function in this way so that it can be accepted. This is very similar to film school where you are told “this is Central Conflict Theory and this is the box office readings from last year” and “here is Angela’s Ashes and Doctor Zhivago...well, that’s the limit of cinema, off you go now.” Personally I am seeking work that functions in an associative way rather than a strict narrative logic; a return to the visual, to the craft and skill of image-making.

What draws me to Bernard and Dulac is the singularity and uncompromising quality of their vision and also the inherent skill and craft that they honed. Dulac formed her own production company and maintained strong control over her work, while Bernard worked on the periphery with little means but with complete control and would turn his limitations to his advantage. These are highly technical filmmakers and what they achieved in their time is a testament to their talent and the raw power of cinema. These films will excite anyone and everyone because what marks them is an absolute openness, there is no real prerequisite or elitist gesturing, you just have to be able and willing to see. As Brakhage once advised “man must transcend the original physical restrictions and inherit a world of eyes.”

AB: Joseph Bernard has worked for a greater portion of his life as a painter rather than a filmmaker. The films he produced were made in a spirit of creative obsession, one perhaps that couldn’t have lasted beyond the ten year period in which he made all of his film work. What do you think this relatively short-lived aspect of his film career brings to his moving image work?

DK: Bernard’s film production reveals a truly obsessive period of creation where all of the films absorb and communicate this intense energy. He made films until he simply couldn’t continue and in 1985 he quit filmmaking. That same year he was hired by his old friend Michael Mann, to work as a concept artist on Manhunter (1986), where he would create blood work and spatter effects as well as the development of Blake’s The Great Red Dragon for tattoo and other transfers. In the years that followed his departure from filmmaking he quit painting and the production of art in general. It’s interesting that his final film Her Moves (1985) is a relatively calm, poetic and conceptual film, but also rich with many of the idiosyncrasies that marked his earlier work. The film juxtaposes numerous vignettes of women performing physical tasks, sewing them through time and space into a montage-dance of angular compositions and movements- a potential correspondence with Dulac’s Thèmes et variations (1928). While the energy that enforced his previous films had somewhat subsided Her Moves provides a powerful last transmission. The final frames of his filmography are of a young woman smiling and laughing bashfully against a backdrop in a dark film studio, with Bernard behind the camera talking to her and presumably laughing along. These are perhaps the most silent moments in his filmography which once again reveal the constant making and unmaking of his work. Writing on Bernard’s films for Cinema Scope magazine Phil Coldiron eloquently remarked that “American experimental cinema is considerably poorer for both the brevity and obscurity of his career”.

As I write these words it is 9am in Troy, Michigan and Joseph Bernard is presumably descending the steps to his windowless workshop with a cup of coffee. Today, like most days, he will spend a couple of hours cleaning and repairing the remaining fifty of his films. And so, the work on his films continues and in the coming years when the Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles collect these remaining titles for preservation we can further comprehend this incredible period between 1975 and 1985, when Joseph Bernard was making films.

Alice Butler (AB), Daniel Fitzpatrick (DF), Dean Kavanagh (DK)

FILM INFO:

Icon, Joseph Bernard, 1978, 5 minutes; Celebration: The Loving of Things Seen, Joseph Bernard, 1978, 6 minutes; Aelf-scin, Joseph Bernard, 1979, 5 minutes; Intrigues (V), Joseph Bernard, 1981, 3 minutes; Variant Chants, Joseph Bernard, 1983 16 minutes; Disque 957, Germaine Dulac, 1928, 6 minutes; Étude Cinématographique sur une Arabesque, Germaine Dulac, 1929, 8 minutes; Thèmes et Variations, Germaine Dulac, 1928, 11 minutes

TOTAL 60 MINUTES

 

Posting #22

Posted on December 22, 2018

 IMPERFECTIONS - an interview

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Early in October 2018, I received a request from a highly regarded, former student of mine, Scott Northrup, now teaching video classes in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies. He asked if a crew of his students could interview me as fulfillment for a short documentary assignment. I agreed and mid-month, met the five young filmmakers, each with a specific responsibility, at my home studio.  [Irish Jurvis; director, Jed Kogler; cinematography & edit, Maria Leenders; lighting, James Pyrce; sound recording, and Matt Pfeffer; interviewer]. Each also had to produce an edited personal version from all the gathered material, but only one would be judged best. This added a competitive real-world edge.

I was given permission to share the winning video, IMPERFECTIONS, by Jed Kogler, (one of his many accomplished works available on Vimeo, under the name, ‘Darxinema’). This brief, 3 1/2 minute portrait/interview compliments my own films through its rhythmic fluidity and compressed relationship - - and that is very much appreciated. It can be viewed by clicking here. Thank you Jed and crew! 

 

Posting #21

Posted on September 13, 2018

Two series of films — Endearments and Intrigues receive Iberian audience

My fifth screening in Spain (September 25, 2018) will be a double program of 12 films. The idea of paired projections (Cineinfinito #67 & #68) was conceived by Filmoteca’s director, Felix Garcia, and will be shown at Zumzeig Cine Cooperativa in the center of Barcelona.

The following layout of text and images was originally produced on Mr. Garcia’s website, Cineinfinito, and later republished by Marco Ortega on his site, Experimental Cinema. I’m sincerely grateful for the continuing support of these distant friends.

 

Cineinfinito #67: Joseph Bernard (II)

CINEINFINITO / Zumzeig Cine Cooperativa

Martes 25 de Septiembre de 2018, 21:30h. Zumzeig Cine Cooperativa

Carrer de Béjar, 53

08014 Barcelona

 

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Programa: (películas seleccionadas por el propio autor)

Endearments:

Icon (1978) Super 8 / sil / 5:32

Fugue (1981) Super 8 / sil / 2:25

Semblance: Frampton Brakhage Relation (1981) Super 8 / sil / 5:21

The Detroit Films (Reel #3) (1985) Super 8 / sil / 4:13

Common Air (1984) Super 8 / sil / 12:27

 

Formato de proyección: HD 2K (Transfers digitales supervisados por el autor)

(Agradecimiento especial a Joseph Bernard)

El artista visual Joseph Bernard nació en Port Chester (Nueva York), y se formó en las Escuelas de Bellas Artes de la Universidad de Hartford y del Art Institute de Chicago, donde estudió con el cineasta independiente Stan Brakhage.

Bernard ha dado clases de bellas artes durante 35 años, con el puesto de Profesor emérito, en el College for Creative Studies de Detroit. La sensibilidad hacia el collage experimental es evidente en sus pinturas, películas y fotografías. Entre sus influencias se encuentran la poesía y la música contemporáneas, junto con sus viajes a Provincetown, sur de California, Austin, Nashville y otros lugares.

Sus películas se han proyectado en el Funnel Theatre de Toronto, Institute of Arts de Dretoit, Chicago Filmakers, Universidad de Rutgers, Cinematheque de San Francisco, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Indiana University Cinema, Third Man Records tanto en Nashville como e Detroit y en el MOMA de Nueva York, etc.

Un proyecto en marcha es la restauración y archivo de las más de 100 películas mudas en Super 8 y fotografías que hizo entre mediados de los 70 y mediados de los 80. Joseph Bernard vive con su mujer, Maria Luisa Belmonte, en Troy, Michigan.

Visual artist, Joseph Bernard was born in Port Chester, NY, educated at the University of Hartford Art School and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied with independent filmmaker, Stan Brakhage.

For 35 years, Professor Emeritus, Bernard taught fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Experimental collage sensibilites 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, Nashville and other locales.

His films have been exhibited at Toronto’s Funnel Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Chicago Filmmakers, Rutgers University, San Francisco Cinematheque, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Dartmouth College, Indiana University Cinema, Third Man Records in both Nashville & Detroit and NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, among others.

An ongoing project is the restoration and archiving of his over 100 Super-8 silent films and prints made between the mid-1970’s to mid-80’s. Joseph Bernard and wife, Maria Luisa Belmonte, live in Troy, Michigan. 

***

“Con una mezcla de intuición y amor ciego por el color y la luz empezó una década en la que estuve sumergido obsesivamente en la producción de más de 100 películas mudas caseras en Super 8… No son películas basadas en un guion o en obras de teatro, no cuentan historias y, de hecho, carecen (excepto una) deliberadamente de sonido… son solo algo pura y enfáticamente visual … el movimiento de la luz y el color.” – Joseph Bernard

“Combining intuition with a blind love of color and light, I began a decade obsessively immersed in producing over 100 short, silent, super-8 home movies…These films are not based on the page or the theatre, they don’t tell a story and, in fact, are (all but one) intentionally without sound… just something purely, emphatically visual… the movement of light and color.” – Joseph Bernard

  Icon___image_2

Icon (Icono, 1978)

Además de múltiples tomas de encuadre único, ICON, una película temprana, me permitió la utilización abstracta de letras troqueladas, y la idea de llevar al cine mi sensibilidad y herramientas de pintor. Super 8, muda, experimental.

Beyond much single frame shooting, ICON, an early film, allowed for the use of cropped stencil letters as abstractions and the idea of bringing my painting sensibility and tools to film. Super 8, silent, experimental.

 

Fugue_image3

Fugue (Fuga, 1981)

Bach implícito; reflejos registrados sin montaje, ligeros, aéreos, un poco desenfocados, desde la ventanilla trasera de un coche que vuelve de la playa en un día perfecto de verano. Super 8, muda, no narrativa.

Bach implied; splice-free, light, airy, soft-focus reflections out the back window of a car returning from the beach on a perfect summer’s day. Super 8, silent, non-narritive.

 

Semblance_image4

Semblance: Frampton Brakhage Relation (Semblanza: la relación de Frampton y Brakhage, 1981)

Una analogía simplista de obvias disparidades entre estos dos grandes maestros, confeccionada en la playa de Provincetown. Sin faltas de respeto, con el espíritu de un koan.

A simplistic analogy of obvious disparities between these two masters, concocted on the beach in Provincetown. No disrespect, just koaning around.

  

Detroit_reel_image5

The Detroit Films (Reel #3) (Las películas de Detroit- Rollo 3, 1985)

Una “esencia del lugar” algo desenfocada y por tanto muy silenciosa, rodada en Provincetown (CapeCod/ Massachusetts), como para ser recordada más tarde en Detroit.

A soft focus and so very silent “essence of place”, shot in Provincetown (CapeCod/ Massachusetts) so as to be later remembered in Detroit.

 

Common_air_image6

Common Air (Aire común, 1984)

Esta empezó con la idea de encerrar la “nada” en una película, tal vez solo pasajes indescriptibles, evanescentes. Pero parecía como si para afianzar esto tuviera que partir de lo contrario –imágenes de cosas, de las cosas que me rodean. Se transformó en una película sobre la casa, un drama sin historia que parece ahora suspendido en el tiempo, un fragmento de memoria/vida dispersa. Aprecio mucho su profundo sentimiento por los restos del pasado.

This began with the idea of committing ‘nothing’ to film, maybe just unnamable, vaporous passages. But to establish that, it seemed I’d have to counter with the opposite – – images of things and those around me. It grew into a movie of the home, a story-less drama that now feels suspended in time, a piece of memory/ life dispersed. I think much of its deep affection for the past remains.

 

 

Cineinfinito #68: Joseph Bernard (III)

CINEINFINITO / Zumzeig Cine Cooperativa

Martes 25 de Septiembre de 2018, 21:30h. Zumzeig Cine Cooperativa

Carrer de Béjar, 53

08014 Barcelona

 

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Programa:

Intrigues Series:

Intrigues (I) (1981 ) Super 8 / sil / 3:44

Intrigues (II) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 4:25

Intrigues (III) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 5:47

Intrigues (IV) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 2:03

Intrigues (V) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 2:53

Intrigues (VI) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 4:21

Intrigues (VII) (1981) Super 8 / sil / 12:22

 

Formato de proyección: HD 2K (Transfers digitales supervisados por el autor)

(Agradecimiento especial a Joseph Bernard)

El artista visual Joseph Bernard nació en Port Chester (Nueva York), y se formó en las Escuelas de Bellas Artes de la Universidad de Hartford y del Art Institute de Chicago, donde estudió con el cineasta independiente Stan Brakhage.

Bernard ha dado clases de bellas artes durante 35 años, con el puesto de Profesor emérito, en el College for Creative Studies de Detroit. La sensibilidad hacia el collage experimental es evidente en sus pinturas, películas y fotografías. Entre sus influencias se encuentran la poesía y la música contemporáneas, junto con sus viajes a Provincetown, sur de California, Austin, Nashville y otros lugares.

Sus películas se han proyectado en el Funnel Theatre de Toronto, Institute of Arts de Dretoit, Chicago Filmakers, Universidad de Rutgers, Cinematheque de San Francisco, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Indiana University Cinema, Third Man Records tanto en Nashville como e Detroit y en el MOMA de Nueva York, etc.

Un proyecto en marcha es la restauración y archivo de las más de 100 películas mudas en Super 8 y fotografías que hizo entre mediados de los 70 y mediados de los 80. Joseph Bernard vive con su mujer, Maria Luisa Belmonte, en Troy, Michigan.

Visual artist, Joseph Bernard was born in Port Chester, NY, educated at the University of Hartford Art School and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied with independent filmmaker, Stan Brakhage.

For 35 years, Professor Emeritus, Bernard taught fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. Experimental collage sensibilites 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, Nashville and other locales.

His films have been exhibited at Toronto’s Funnel Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Chicago Filmmakers, Rutgers University, San Francisco Cinematheque, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Dartmouth College, Indiana University Cinema, Third Man Records in both Nashville & Detroit and NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, among others.

An ongoing project is the restoration and archiving of his over 100 Super-8 silent films and prints made between the mid-1970’s to mid-80’s. Joseph Bernard and wife, Maria Luisa Belmonte, live in Troy, Michigan.

***

“Con una mezcla de intuición y amor ciego por el color y la luz empezó una década en la que estuve sumergido obsesivamente en la producción de más de 100 películas mudas caseras en Super 8… No son películas basadas en un guion o en obras de teatro, no cuentan historias y, de hecho, carecen (excepto una) deliberadamente de sonido… son solo algo pura y enfáticamente visual … el movimiento de la luz y el color.” – Joseph Bernard

“Combining intuition with a blind love of color and light, I began a decade obsessively immersed in producing over 100 short, silent, super-8 home movies…These films are not based on the page or the theatre, they don’t tell a story and, in fact, are (all but one) intentionally without sound… just something purely, emphatically visual… the movement of light and color.” – Joseph Bernard

 

Intrigues I-VII (Intrigas, 1981)

La obertura de la serie de siete “Intrigas” está inspirada por las observaciones sobre la palabra “intriga” de Delmore Schwartz. Estas siete obras mías se centran en aspectos de la práctica fílmica.

The opening in a series of seven “Intrigues”, inspired by Delmore Schwartz’s observations on the word. These seven titles of mine center on aspects of filmmaking. 

 2_intrigues_1

2_intrigues_2

2_intrigues_3

2_intrigues_4

2_intrigues_5

2_intrigues_6

2_intrigues_7

 

Traducción de los textos: Javier Oliva

 

  

Posting #19

Posted on May 29, 2017

Activities Past, Present & Upcoming

Following are a number of miscellaneous events that have either just taken place or are about to, in various locations.

Eye_reels_04Film still from “Eye Reels”, 1980

 

My work was recently curated by Duo Strangloscope (Cláudia Cardenas & Rafael Schlichting) into Super-8 film festivals in Curitiba, Brazil and Valparaiso, Chile, 2017.

The spring issue (#3) of Found Footage Magazine, a printed film journal published in Spain (In both English & Spanish; César Ustarroz, Editor-in-Chief) reproduced a film still from “Eye Reels”, 1980.

Light Movement presented “The Outskirts of a Dreamed Map” — a James Edmonds / Petra Graf curated program, in Athens, Greece on May 26, 2017. My film “Drawings on Africa”, 1981, was included. For a full program of the show; click here.

Mike Gubbins, of Nashville, re-edited, added original music, moments of color and digital tiling to my b&w “The Function of Film”, 1982. It can be seen here on YouTube. 

“36 Love Letters to Super-8” is being published as a bi-lingual zine-book in conjunction with the 8th Annual Film Festival in  A Coruña, Spain, May 31 - June 4, 2017. I’m proud to have been invited to write one of those letters.

On June 3, 2017, the Oslo, Norway MUSIKKFEST will feature the work of composer/ musician Simon Gore. Among his compositions is the sound version of “White Film”, 1978, which will be screened that night.

 

 

Drawings_on_africaFilm still from “Drawings on Africa”, 1981

 

 

Posting #18

Posted on April 24, 2017

PRISMATIC MUSIC Series Continues in Berlin

So it seems London wasn’t the final public screening of PRISMATIC MUSIC, as headlined in the last blog. On May 7, 2017, a very special program is planned for the Light Movement series at Spektrum in Berlin. 

 

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James Edmonds, the series director, asked if I could include some films that hadn’t appeared on Vimeo. Inspired by the idea, I decided this show would only have work that wasn’t available on that site. Additionally, half the titles on the program have never been publicly screened until now. 

I’m told the audiences at Spektrum are, “… very open and respecting of visual, experimental film.” This sounds like an eventful union! 

Here’s a link to Light Movement’s site and the evening’s program.

 

 

Posting #16

Posted on October 03, 2016

PRISMATIC MUSIC IN SPAIN!

Following recent group shows in London, England and Curitiba, Brazil, I'd like to share news of my third show in Spain -- a solo in the city of Santander at the Filmoteca De Cantabria. Below is their beautiful theatre. Additional information can be found on the blogs: Cineinfinito #4 and Experimental Cinema. My thanks to both Felix Garcia and Marcos Ortega for their inspired dedication to film and ongoing support of my work.

 

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Posting #15

Posted on September 01, 2016

This interview was conducted by Brittany Danielle Friesner on 3/11/16 at Indiana University Cinema in Bloomington, Indiana.

Click here for video interview

 

Iu_interview_blog_image_2

 

Published on August 30, 2016 by IU Cinema, this YouTube video interview was filmed in March 2016. Bernard's visit also included several other events and a public interview for the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series. For more information about IU Cinema:  http://www.cinema.indiana.edu/ 

 

Posting #14

Posted on June 18, 2016

WFIU Public Radio Interview on "Profiles" with Yael Ksander at Indiana University, 3/11/16

 

Filmmakers Tony Buba and Joseph Bernard

 

Buba_and_bernard2_lowres

Photo: Adam Schwartz/WFIU

Tony Buba (left) and Joseph Bernard

Josh Brewer hosts an interview with documentary filmmaker Tony Buba, and Yaël Ksander speaks with mixed-media artist Joseph Bernard. To hear both 30 minute interviews click hereYaël's interview with Joseph Bernard airs first.

Tony Buba has been producing documentary films since 1972. Many of his films concern issues in his hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. These include Voices from a Steeltown, a series of vignettes of signs of life in the dying mill town, and his first feature-length documentary, Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy, an “exploded documentary.” His 1994 fictional feature film, No Pets, explored the psychological realities of postindustrial working-class life.

Joseph Bernard is a painter, filmmaker, and mixed-media artist. A former student of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, Bernard’s films are kaleidoscopic abstractions of light and texture. His collage paintings utilize acrylic paint and inks on wood panels, layered with found objects such as hair, seaweed, feathers, onion skin, and crushed cans. Bernard has taught fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies.

  

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Posting #11

Posted on April 02, 2016

 

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Light and Sound Machine: JOSEPH BERNARD: PRISMATIC MUSIC

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.)

CREMATORIUM: A COLLABORATIVE SELF-PORTRAIT (1979, 8:17 min.)

Life, Love, Sex & Death:

IMPLICATIONS OF A TOTALITY (1979, 15:03 min.)

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 #5

Posted on March 15, 2015

After close to three years of collective efforts, I’m proud to announce the impending completion and release of the remarkable, Blu-ray collection; PRISMATIC MUSIC: The Super 8 Films of Joseph Bernard

 

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This 40-film package, with a total running time of 5 hrs. 47 mins., includes a 24-page booklet with essays, film notes, historic documentation and images in color. The set itself is part of a series called, Beneath Detroit, a project by Jeffery Plansker, celebrating under-recognized area artists.

These films date back from the mid 1970’s to mid 80’s and all of them are purely visual and intentionally silent. There’ve been occasional screenings of selected titles, most recently at the 2014 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival. Over 100 works were originally produced and although prints were made in both S-8 & 16mm, none were either in distribution or had been sold. Owning this collection will soon be possible. After the April 15th Premiere Screening & Release Event at the College for Creative Studies, in Detroit, the specifics for purchase will be available on this site.

About the set - - this particular digital 2K version will make the viewing of these films much more accessible in that the Blu-ray Disc (1920x1080p), dual-layer format is “Region/Code-Free”; playable throughout the world. It breathes new life into these small gauge, highly hand-crafted entities. The enclosed booklet’s essays are written by L.A. and NYC filmmakers, a director, a cinematographer and an architect. They provide valuable insight and access to the work. The menu treatment and overall packaging design has been fastidiously fine-tuned. 

Paramount to all of this, of course, is preservation. When film sits on a shelf in unstable conditions, the fragile combination of plastic, chemical emulsion and adhesive splices, (along with added elements of inks, bleach & tape) - - all rolled somewhat tightly against itself on spools - - risks deterioration. Extremes in temperature and humidity rapidly affect film’s properties. Two offers came to the rescue.

A few years ago Jeff Plansker proposed putting a group of my films onto a DVD set, along with a booklet of informational notes about them. Working with limitations in mind, the choosing of which titles would be saved was difficult. Each one was looked at numerous times on a hand-cranked viewer (my projector had been stolen), selections were made, every splice was tested, leaders & trailers replaced, relabeled, then all were cleaned and rejoined onto nineteen 400’ reels & cases. That original footage flew with me to Los Angeles where, at the Cinelicious (Hollywood) lab, all was digitally scanned, color graded shot-by-shot, then electronically filed. 

During the week overseeing this process, the lab’s owner called in Mark Toscano, the Film Preservationist/ archivist/ curator for the Academy Film Archive (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Mark looked at the films and made an offer to allow the totality of my work be perpetually preserved in the climate controlled vaults at the Academy. My original film & prints, while now in ideal safekeeping, are also available for scholarly study. 

With the release of PRISMATIC MUSIC, my old & fragile footage can now be viewed easily, repeatedly and in high definition, well into the future. The next plan is to explore venues to exhibit and distribute the films widely.

 

 

Posting #1; An Introduction

Posted on July 07, 2014

Resized_blog_image_copyPhoto: Jonathan Rajewski

 

This initial blog post is to welcome you to my website and to relay the purpose behind it. 

[To sift remnants of a life... to gather ‘driftings’ and make them stable, clear.]

 

The idea of designing a repository of personal images appealed to me. I had produced a good number of pictures and objects throughout my life, many of them with no documentation; some lost through unrecorded donations, sales and gifts or destroyed either by my hand (to ease in relocating) or by basement studio flooding.    

Then too, for years I produced paintings and bodyprints directly on sheet glass. They were heavy, fragile, highly impractical to ship. Lots of them were fatally damaged along the way. I’ve not been a diligent caretaker of past efforts, but then this “archive” may provide witness to that porous history.

Unfortunately, there are bodies of work that can’t be included because they were never documented or retained; (small sculpture, early paintings, all darkroom work, most graphic prints and drawings), or only sparsely so, like the paintings on glass and bodyprints. Some drawings and works on glass will be added eventually, if possible.

This is the beginning of a large project. So many more old 35mm slides have been scanned, which then have to be digitally formatted, categorized, resized and labeled. So much other work has yet to be photographed. The ongoing documentation process, and all that lies ahead, is quite daunting. Now, as archivist, I’m obliged to attempt cataloging the impossible, or at least make gestures in that direction. At present, that’s the plan.  

The following remnants are evidence of activities that, in fact, provided me an identity.

Paintings - But for a few early examples, these are all acrylic on wood (OSB) panel constructed to float 3/4” from the wall. Most have collage elements included. I hand-built the panels and the backs were treated to the same layers of paint and topcoat as the facing surfaces. This format and practice began when I was an undergraduate and continued until 2010, at which point I quit all painting and gallery involvements. (Note: Apologies for the quality level of early work reproductions; they obviously predate digital clarity.)  

Films - Dating from 1976-1985, these were all Super 8, silent, usually with a great deal of editing. They still occasionally get screenings, the most recent was a program in this year’s 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival. Also this year, 40 of them were accepted into The Academy Film Archive in Hollywood, California for safekeeping and study. In the near future, this very same group of films will be released in a DVD format boxed set titled, Prismatic Music  The Super 8 Films of Joseph Bernard.  

Film Stills - Like selected words pulled from a poem, these single frames offer no (or very little) sense of the whole, yet may resonate with a projected 24th of a second DNA from that entity. Passing quickly from one to another, somewhat like flipping through random slides on a carousal projector, (which, of course, no one does anymore), these images become ‘un-possessed’; they provide a revised context, an incongruity in search of meaning, not unlike the thought process itself. This may have some indicators of my past filmmaking practices. 

Photographs - Another personal pursuit that began long ago and went through several permutations; prints, slides, sandwiched slides, photographic decals and collages. I now  continue to photograph only digitally. Unencumbered by justification, a few subcategories are included on the site and are broadly labeled by location only, without titles, sizes or dates.

I think art comes from the same place as any real discoveries; informed intuition,  without conscious introspection - - at least during the making. Now, much after the fact, this retrospective view allows for a clearer assessment of overlapping activities and their commingled relationships. It can bring order to what’s been achieved, also suggesting where it may lead. After decades of studio solitude, a public unveiling certainly has its anxieties. But then any self-portrait, any personal overview, any regathering of both additions and deletions inevitably gives shape to one’s life map, as it should. I intend to keep changing this website and, as it evolves, certainly welcome your feedback. 

 

Comments or questions:   joseph-bernard@sbcglobal.net