Paul Sharits

26 May 1990
Location: Ekko
14:30 - 15:30
16:00 - 17:06
21:00 - 22:11

Paul Sharits is one of the most important American avant-garde filmmakers after the Second World War. Initially he made fairly conventional films, but after he became involved in the Fluxus movement he started to work on his own new conception of the medium of film: film that does not elaborate on the aesthetics and principles of literature or theater, such as traditional cinema films, nor is it based on painting, as many abstract films do. In his films, Sharits lets go of the illusion of reality to focus fully on what he calls “The higher drama of the celluloid”; on two-dimensional film strips, individual frames, perforation and emulsion, three-dimensional light beams, the film screen and finally on the retina and individual nervous system. In terms of method and approach, Sharits fits in the tradition of “Minimal Art”; he makes only sparing use of images from reality and sometimes refrains from them altogether. When he does use them, he photographs them ‘en sec’ and in isolation, giving them an iconic function and becoming a subject for meditation. Most Sharits films are made up of individual frames. Because the successive frames often differ completely from each other, a stroboscope-like effect is created that directly appeals to the spectator’s nervous system through intense and carefully balanced rhythms. The fragmented repetition and the strong interaction between image and sound often give his films a special impact. Divided into three programs, an overview of Paul Sharits’ oeuvre will be given. In the afternoon there will be a lecture on the work of Paul Sharits, when the paper went to press it was not yet clear who would give the lecture.

14.00: SHARITS I

Ray Gun Virus, 1966, 14 min. Sharit’s first ‘light film’ consists of frames with only color and no images. With Ray Gun Virus, Sharits added a new dimension to the ‘flicker’ concept already developed by Kubelka and Conrad.

Word movie/Flux film 29, 1966, 4 min. Fifty words flash across the screen at lightning speed, only the letters that the consecutive words have in common get through to the viewer.

S:TREAM:S:S:ECTIONS:S:ECTION:S:S:ECTIONED, 1968-71, 42 min. Clear running water. By always adding a number of scratches to the film image, Sharits delineates time and exposes the true (linear) nature of the medium of film.



Inferential Current, 1971, 8 min. Research into the illusion of movement as used in the medium of film.

Epileptic Seizure Comparison, 1976, 30 min. Film version of a film/sound installation. Recordings of seizures from two epilepsy patients have been processed in a rhythmic way. The soundtrack features the moaning of a patient and synthesizer simulations of the frequencies of brainwaves that are characteristic of an epilepsy attack.

Tails, 1976, 4 min. The film image damaged by the careless action of the light. A lyrical film, a celebration of color.

3rd Degree, 1982, 24 min. A film about the fragility of the medium film and the vulnerability of humans. In this film, Sharits incorporates the artistic aspects of ‘burning through’ a film.



Piece Mandala/End War, 1966, 5 min. Images of two people making love, photographed in different positions. In the central part of the film, we see Sharits himself placing a revolver against his temple. Intense color changes give the film a meditative character.

N: O: T: H: I: N: G, 1968, 36 min. A chair falls over, an incandescent lamp emits black glowing rays. Perception and experience of reality change. The light becomes the subject of meditation.

Episodic Generation, 1978, 30 min. Film based on an installation for four movie/sound loops. A good example of Sharits’ research into the role of sound in film.

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