Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Screenings

Light Industry: Brian L. Frye: The Waste Books

By Mike Everleth ⋅ April 26, 2014

Light Industry

April 29
7:30 p.m.
Light Industry
155 Freeman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Hosted by: Light Industry

Although currently an assistant law professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, Brian L. Frye will be in attendance at this retrospective of his films made between 1999 and 2002. Following the screening, he will participate in a discussion of his work with Chrissie Iles, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The full lineup of films screening are listed below with thorough descriptions of each film written by the filmmaker. The majority of his work involves found footage, much of it heavily manipulated. Some films, though, consist of majorly abstracted, but fully original footage.

P.S. Brian L. Frye has the best mustached cat of all time, named The T.J. Hooper,  as a companion.

The screening lineup:

The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1999, 16mm, 11 mins
Sometime in the 1960s, a chiropractor from Kansas City made a short film called “A Portrait of Fear.” The film consisted of several tableau shots of amateur actors standing in a field at night reciting painfully overwrought dialogue, apparently lit by the headlights of a car. I assume the cinematographer used an Auricon, as the sound was recorded directly on the B&W reversal original. In 1998, he sold me the outtakes, strung together just like you see them. – BF

Broken Camera Reels 1 & 2, 2000, 16mm, 5 mins
The film consists of two rolls of film I shot in 1998 or 1999 while living in a Bushwick loft. I was interested in the perfect simplicity of a movie camera and what happens when a single part is disabled. So I found simple old cameras and deliberately broke one part, to see what happened. In the first reel, I removed the claw. In the second, I removed the shutter. As I recall, I also have a scheme of swinging the camera back and forth and up and down and various f-stop settings. Very Ernie Gehr. Playing, drinking beer & shooting film. No editing to speak of. – BF

Blurry image of Oona Chaplin

Oona’s Veil, 2000, 16mm, 8 mins
I know of only one film-record of Oona Chaplin (née O’Neill), this screen-test made for a film in which she was cast and never appeared, having met and married Charlie Chaplin before shooting commenced. Hers was quite possibly the briefest ever film career, but brevity is no obstacle to greatness. Some say that Chaplin himself directed her screentest; history says otherwise. To hell with history. I rephotographed the original screentest, doing 20 frame (I think) lap dissolves from one to the next. The idea was lifted wholesale from David Rimmer, though I’ve never seen the film(s?) in which he did it. I was interested in the brief transition from still to motion in Chris Marker’s La Jetée, and wanted to extend it somehow. Anyway, I didn’t like the result, as the image shifted a lot. So I made a duplicate negative and did damage to it, to obscure the hiccups. It was exposed to chemicals, buried, and left on the fire escape for a year. What was left over I untangled, spliced together into something approaching a continuous strip of film, and had printed. The result became the master positive. The sound consists of a 78 of ‘Whispering Hope,’ played at 33 rpm. – BF

Lachrymae, 2000, 16mm, 3 mins
“.. and yet of that living breathing throng, not one will be encased in a material frame. A company of ghosts, playing to spectral music. So may the luminous larvae of the Elysian fields have rehearsed earth’s well beloved scenes to the exiled senses of Pluto’s Queen.” – WKL Dickson

The Letter, 2001, 16mm, 11 mins
An essay toward documenting the ineffable… One might consider it a dialogue between a man of Faith and one who has merely tasted of the absurd, yet struggles to ingest it. – BF

Kaddish, 2002, 16mm, 11 mins
A fragment of tinted nitrate. An acetate recording of a wedding ceremony. Echoes of the bitter sweetness of the Spirit on the tongue of Man. As Frampton tipped his hat to Gloria, so might I. – BF

Robert Beck Is Alive and Well and Living in NYC, 2002, 16mm, 3 mins
Robert Beck was an American soldier from Chicago, who served in the First World War. Struck deaf and dumb by shellshock, Beck was sent to an English sanitarium to convalesce. At some point, the patients attended a movie. Beck began to laugh, and was suddenly cured of his affliction. He became the patron saint of New York’s Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, dedicated to films which touch the marvelous. On September 26, 2000, Stuart Sherman, the great performance artist and filmmaker, presented several of his films, interspersed with “perfilmances,” in which he re-enacted the passion of Robert Beck. This film is a record of that “spectacle,” shot by Lee Ellickson. Stuart Sherman died on September 14, 2001 in San Francisco. This may have been his last New York performance. – BF

Across the Rappahannock, 2002, 16mm, 11 mins
On December 12, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac engaged General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Before Burnside’s army could enter the town, Union engineers were forced to lay pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River under withering fire. Close combat through the streets of Fredericksburg and multiple assaults on the Confederate army entrenched in the heights behind the town resulted in heavy Federal casualties, which forced an eventual withdrawal. In November, 2001, I attended a small and relatively informal reenactment of the battle of Fredericksburg. About a hundred men and women did their best to illustrate the actions of the thousands of young men who offered their lives a century earlier. An air of absurd theater suffused the entire event, which provided the ground for its peculiar truth. Everyone played their part exceedingly honestly and well, and left something on the film I was myself surprised to find there. – BF