Cameraless film focuses on producing images through directly interfering with celluloid film strips by scratching, painting, drawing, bleaching or destroying them with additive and subtractive methods.
I think that this idea of interfering with the medium of film is appropriately discussed in Clement Greenberg’s argument, where he states:
“Each medium has its own unique characteristics and these should be the basis of how the medium is used. The focus should then fall on the materiality of the medium (the physical and how people interact with it). The medium then often becomes the work)”
Greenberg’s ideas are relevant in this sense, as the film becomes the medium which is being used, and the focus falls on the physical ways that people are able to manipulate and interact with it which results in the medium of the film becoming a major work of art.
As the medium of film was established, an emergence of film avant-garde’s experimented with it which allowed for this practice to become relevant as a principle of film production.
Artists like Len Lye used scratching, painting and drawing techniques on celluloid film in his art piece ‘Colour box‘. Len Lye experimented with different kinds of paints that would be transparent enough to produce bright colours when projected. Lye created dynamic patterns that were both in and out of frame to create a sense of off scene space. Cuban dance music was also added to the art piece to compliment the array of shapes being projected. A loose relationship between the projected art and the music was created where specific shapes were associated with certain sounds.
The film ‘colour box’ had a huge impact because of its novelty and its appearance of a divided audience. Len Lye’s film is considered to be the work which established the genre of cameraless film, which was the cause for some film festivals to invent new categories to cater to this new style.
CELLOLUID. CAMERALESS FILM – >> mind the __ GAP* ? (2010) Available at: http://www.mindgap.org/2010/06/cameraless-film/ (Accessed: 4 March 2017).
Digicult, R. (2015) Celluloid. Cameraless film | Digicult | digital art, design and culture. Available at: http://www.digicult.it/news/celluloid-cameraless-film/ (Accessed: 4 March 2017).
Foundation, T.L.L. (2017) The len lye foundation – A Colour box, 1935. Available at: http://www.lenlyefoundation.com/films/a-colour-box/21/ (Accessed: 4 March 2017).
Projection series #1: Len lye’s Colour box | Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | len lye centre (no date) Available at: http://www.govettbrewster.com/exhibitions/projection-series-1-len-lyes-colour-box (Accessed: 4 March 2017).
Unit, G.F. (1935) BFI Screenonline: Colour box, A (1935). Available at: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/442234/ (Accessed: 4 March 2017).