Underground Film Journal

Stan Vanderbeek

Extreme close-up of filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek

Stan Vanderbeek (1927-1984) was an American avant-garde filmmaker and a pioneer of expanded film techniques. He was also a major film writer and theorist of the 1960s underground film scene.

Vanderbeek's early work, such as his award-winning Breathdeath, were primarily single-projector film collages of style and technique, combining original live-action footage with animating pop culture images and painting. In his writing, Vanderbeek was the first to use the term "underground film" -- in a 1961 article published in Film Quarterly -- to describe the avant-garde film work of the '60s.

Combining his film theory writing and filmmaking, Vanderbeek evolved into creating multi-screen and multi-projector cinema pieces, that culminated in his invention of the Movie-Drome. Built at his home in Stony Brook, NY, the Movie-Drome had audiences lie on their backs to watch images projected on a curved wall to allow for an immersive visual experience.

Vanderbeek then became an early pioneer of computer animation and combining computerized imagery with film and video. He was an artist-in-residence at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and was the department chair of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Watch Streaming Films By Stan Vanderbeek:


Euclidean Illusions (1980)
Symmetricks (1972)
Who Ho Ray No. 1 (1972)
Poem Field No. 7 (1971)
Film Form No. 1 (1970)
Found Film No. 1 (1970)
Oh (1968)
Super-Imposition (1968)
Will (1968)
Man and His World (1967)
Panels for the Walls of the World (1967)
Poem Field No. 5: Free Fall (1967)
Spherical Space No. 1 (1967)
T.V. Interview (1967)
If You Say So (1965-66)
Snow Show (1965-66)
Collide-oscope (1966)
When in the Course of (1966– )
Spherical Space (With Elaine Summers) (1966)
Poem Field No. 2 (1966)
Computer Art (number one) (1966)
Wheeels #4 (1958-65)
Revenge of the Looney Spoons (1958-65)
A Damn Rib Bed (1964-65)
Night Eating (1965)
Fluids (1965)
Phenomenon No. 1 (1965)
Facescapes (1965)
The Human Face Is a Monument (1965)
Poem Field No. 1 (1965)
Variation 5 (1965)
Sight (With Bob Morris and Carolee Schneemann) (1965)
Room Service (With Yvonne Rainer) (1965)
Pastorale: Et al (1965)
Move-Movies (1965)
Feedback #1 (1965) (1965)
Birth of the American Flag (1965– )
See, Saw, Seems (1965)
Breathdeath (1963) (Watch Now)
Newsreel of Dreams No. 1 (1964)
Summit (1963)
Croquet Quacks (1962– )
The Life and Death of a Car (1962– )
Kar Bop (1962– )
Wheeels #1 (1958-61)
Skullduggery Part II (1960-61)
Snapshots of the City (1961)
Skullduggery Part I (1960)
Black & Whites, Days & Nights (1960)
Achoo Mr. Kerroochev (1959)
Dance of the Looney Spoons (1959)
Mankinda (1959)
Science Friction (1959)
Visibles (1959)
Wheeeels No. 2 (1959)
Three-Screen-Scene (1958)
Wheeeeels No. 1 (1958)
A La Mode (1957)
Alamo01 (1957)
Astral Man (1957)
What Who How (1957)
Yet (1957)
Street Meet (1957)
Visioniii (1955)


1961: New American Cinema At The Spoleto Festival

According to Jonas Mekas‘s diaries, on May 17, 1961 he was contacted by Jerome Hill about the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Hill had convinced the festival’s organizer, Gian Carlo Menotti, to include a section on the New American Cinema for that year’s edition to be held in June and July. Mekas declined to participate, as […]

Movie Journal: Rise of the “Underground”

Jonas Mekas’s “Movie Journal” column in the Village Voice was the main organ promoting experimental and avant-garde cinema in the early 1960s. A survey of the column from that time period has shown that Mekas did not use the term “underground film” very frequently.

The Origin Of “Underground Film”

One of filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek’s most famous articles is “The Cinema Delimina” published in the Summer 1961 edition of Film Quarterly (vol. XIV no. 4), in which he is the first person to use the term “underground” to refer to what was then mostly referred to as “experimental cinema.”

Experimental Film Coalition: The Monthly Screenings

This is Part Two in a series about Chicago’s Experimental Film Coalition; and covers their screening series. Formed in 1983, the Experimental Film Coalition started holding regular monthly screenings starting in 1984. The screenings brought to Chicago the work of independent, experimental filmmakers across the country, as well as screening local work.

EXPRMNTL 3: 1963 Recap

1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.”