Joseph Bernard

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 #20

Posted on August 15, 2018

Solo at Rubicon Cinema

4th Season Opening at the Rubicon Cinema in Akron, OH - - My thanks to Tim Peyton & Gedas Gasparavicius

Film_still__crematoriumFilm still from "Crematorium: A Collaborative Self-Portrait", 1979


For a Season 4 opener, Rubicon Cinema is proud to present acclaimed filmmaker and visual artist JOSEPH BERNARD. The filmmaker will be present at the screening, introduce his work, and hold a Q&A.

Don't miss this unique opportunity!

When: Saturday, September 8, 8 pm

Where: Rubicon Cinema at the Blue Sky Studio, 943 Dopler Street, Akron OH 44303



Born in Port Chester, NY, Bernard was educated at the University of Hartford Art School and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied with Stan Brakhage. 

Now Professor Emeritus, Bernard taught fine arts at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies for 35 years. Experimental collage sensibilities are evident in his paintings, films and photographs. Contemporary poetry and music remain strong 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.


PROGRAM (prepared by J.B. for Rubicon Cinema)

Icon, digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, 1978, 05:32 min

Exterior - Detroit snow storm; interior - intimate details of stencil letters through much single-frame shooting. Together they transition Bernard's painting tools and sensibilities into this early abstract film.

Crematorium: A Collaborative Self-Portrait, digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, 1979, 08:16 min

Shot at a Bohemian crematorium outside Chicago, this ‘self-viewing at work’ film makes metaphoric reference to both the location and process of cremation as a ‘recording’ of the deed itself. 

Eye Reels, digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, 1980, 16:17 min

An entangled meld of Celtic-flavored abstractions, home movies and an Irish dance fest, edited throughout with those very moves in mind. Fast shots and dense patterning echo those found in embroidery, lace, stone and metal work. They grow from the same language – in both calligraphy and sound. The tapestry-like interweave becomes the very fabric of this film.

Semblance: Frampton Brakhage Relation, digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, 1981, 05:21 min

A simplistic analogy of obvious disparities of these two masters that the filmmaker concocted on the beach. A wonderful koan appears to join at mid-point.

Her Moves, digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, b&w, 1985, 19:35 min

Interwoven footage of 12 female characters engaged in specific, physical activities – each filmed separately, throughout numerous east coast and Detroit locations, then edited into a collective dance of sorts. 

Full Circle (It’s Always Been Around), digital transfer from Super 8 film, silent, color, 1994, 14:56 min

Based on the title and a premise from Bernard's undergraduate thesis, this film is built on the experience of the first viewing of Brakhage’s Mothlight and the impact it had on the filmmaker. Tagged at the end with "4 SB," this film is an expression of sincere affection and regard. 


“To be an artist is not a matter of making paintings or objects at all. What we are dealing with is our state of consciousness and the shape of our perception.”

– Robert Irwin


J.B. Q&A with audience and Rubicon Cinema Director, Tim Peyton. 


Bring your own beer, wine or snack.

Admission is free but we ask you to consider a $5-$10 donation.

Rubicon Cinema contact: