Joseph Bernard

Posting #22

Posted on December 22, 2018

 IMPERFECTIONS - an interview

Screen_shot_lowres

 

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 #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.

 

Image_localizacion_final_35_2014_10_30_11_38_23

 

 

Posting #10

Posted on March 26, 2016

A visit to Indiana University Cinema  3/11/16

The following images and text are sparingly meager memories of an extraordinary day spent at Bloomington's Indiana University Cinema. The personnel, film collection and facilities there are renown as world-class with absolute justification. I was thrilled to have joined the ranks of Jorgensen Guest Filmmakers like Werner Herzog, Bill Morrison, Kenneth Anger, Albert Maysles, Walter Salles, even Jonathan Banks, Paul Schrader and John Sayles to name a few. IU Cinema, under it's founding director, Jon Vickers, has a tag line; "... A PLACE FOR FILM", and it most certainly is!

 

02

  

Photo

 

The following remarks were delivered by James R. Hook, Ph.D candidate, associate instructor and member of the Media School's Underground Film Series. His introduction provided historic and aesthetic background which, after the screening of NIGHT MIX, led into our on-stage conversation under the banner of the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture Series. I'm honored by his scholarly insight, generous observations and stimulating questions. Our discussion eventually segued into a wonderfully rewarding exchange with the audience. This was just a perfect priming for that evening's following, full program of twelve films.

 

INTRODUCTION

Since the 1970s, multimedia artist Joseph Bernard has created over 100 silent Super 8 films that work to radically expand our understanding of cinema as an expressive form. His work offers a rich contribution to traditions of formalist and experimental filmmaking and has often been discussed in terms of—but remains steadfastly irreducible to—qualities of rhythm and color as well as the influences of abstract expressionism, photography, documentary, self-portraiture, and collage.

Mr. Bernard earned his BFA in Painting from Hartford Art School in 1970, graduating Summa Cum Laude, followed by his MFA in 1972 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied with the legendary experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. As a teacher himself, Mr. Bernard has taught art courses for over thirty-five years at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, where he received the title of Professor Emeritus in 2007. 

While preparing for today’s conversation, Mr. Bernard shared with me that he believes he has learned as much from musicians and poets about filmmaking as he has from other filmmakers. This is readily apparent when watching Mr. Bernard’s films themselves. These aesthetically ravishing and densely layered works are a far cry from a cinema constituted through narrative, character, setting, and traditional representational symbolism; rather, his is a cinema of rhythmic structures and metrical patterns, visual dynamics and textures. In short, Mr. Bernard’s work embodies a nearly unyielding awareness of the total expressive range and vocabulary of what we call the cinematic. His films reactivate formal and affective possibilities that were widely forsaken mere decades after the birth of cinema in the late-1800s. This was a moment when, as film historian and theorist Tom Gunning has famously explained, early modernists (such as the original Dadaists and Surrealists) saw their at-first unbridled enthusiasm for the potential of cinema as a new communicative technology quickly turn to disappointment at its all but instantaneous “enslavement to traditional art forms, particularly theater and literature.” 

Mr. Bernard’s films are routinely classified as silent—and, indeed they are, in the sense that they contain no literal sound track and are to be presented without live musical accompaniment. Still, as composer and music theorist John Cage—who Bernard has cited as one of many artists to whom he has paid homage—has written, “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” In terms of their affective impact, Mr. Bernard’s films are anything but silent. This is art in which there will always be new things to see and “hear” with every repeated viewing. One could make the argument that Mr. Bernard’s films are dialectical insofar as they frequently bring together opposing elements and resolve their tension in such a way that something new and novel is created. Thus, his films can feel frenetic and meditative; abstract and concrete; tactile and ephemeral; quasi-scientific and quasi-spiritual; faintly remote and warmly intimate…often all at the same time.

And finally, like the most provocative and rewarding works of that vexed category we call experimental art, Mr. Bernard’s films consciously and consistently show us how what an eye conditioned only by Hollywood-style bombast might deem as “less,” is in fact a vital precondition for allowing us to truly feel and see something more. Before inviting Mr. Bernard to join us on stage, we will now screen his film Night Mix from 1982, which runs just under 11 minutes. 

 

 

05

 

06

 

07

 

I'm grateful for the photography supplied by Chaz Mottinger and MariaLuisa Belmonte. Also, special thanks to Brittany Friesner and Jamie Hook for making my visit so memerable.