Thematic Seminar Nan Wang

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A history of hand-made films

The first experimental cinema practices emerged from the visual arts field in the early twentieth century. As film matured as medium, visual artists, influenced by Surrealism and Dadaism, extended their practices to film and began to dedicate themselves exclusively to filmmaking as an artistic practice.

Many filmmakers followed a non-narrative approach in film form. Later, during the post-war period, non-narrative and abstract approaches in experimental cinema such as Visual Music and Structural Materialist film emerged amongst the rise of Abstract Expressionism, Neo-dada, minimalism, and conceptual art. The core spirit of experimental cinema has always been a solid alternative to mainstream storytelling. Often we see experimental filmmakers actively destroying the film strip by means of scratching, burning, and revealing the film perforations, attempting to break the illusion of commercial cinema and emphasizing film as a material medium. This experimental spirit and approach still inspire a wide range of media artists and filmmakers today.

During the period of this thematic seminar, we will first dive into the history of “handmade films” through a series of screenings each Tuesday. After the screenings, we will have a series of conversations about the production, conceptual meanings, and significance of the handmade moving images and what are the possibilities for implementing digital technologies in experimental filmmaking practices.

Thematic Seminar 2024

Thematic Seminar 2023

Reading Materials:

You can download most of the reading material for free via the URL. If not, please ask for a pdf copy from me.

Expanded Cinema:

Avant-Garde and Experimental Cinema: From Film to Digital:

Film as Film:

Avantgarde film:

Structural film anthology:

Abstract Film and Beyond-Malcolm Le Grice (a pdf copy)

Optical_sound films 1971-2007 Guy Sherwin (a pdf copy)

Anthony McCall breath:

Practical links:

Nan Wang is a multi-disciplinary visual artist, her practice focuses on material-based abstract works. She often finds beauty and philosophical meanings in unwanted objects or substances and creates works that revolve around the topic of identity, technology, and social interactions. She uses both digital and analog techniques and her works take the form of interactive projection installations, optical devices, live audiovisual performances, and experimental films.