Jeff Preiss will screen and discuss his film STOP.
STOP is a feature-length chronicle distilled from 2,500 100-ft camera rolls (354 assembled lab rolls) of 16mm film that I shot between 1995 and 2011 and finished editing in 2012. Organized sequentially into four half-hour programs, it operates around the conventions of home movies: the images are of my own life and as home-movie form dictates: the alternating subjects of family, friends and travel are set by the filmstrip with absolute chronological certainty.
I took it as a self imposed rule to preserve this camera-originated chronology—in part to keep the reference to film present after a digital conversion—but more essentially to find the cuts through a perspectival line-up of time, giving their organization an equivalent to the fated randomness that operates within each singular shot once the camera is engaged.
Subjects repeat in cycles while others form isolated episodes: London during Princess Diana’s funeral, an investigation of architectural cinematography commissioned by Rem Koolhaas, the founding and three-year program of the gallery Orchard, the events of September 11 and the shocked atmosphere of New York City afterward. But in classic home-movie tradition, the central subject is my child.
Among the STOPs referred to in the title, one was the act of assigning a limit to the accumulating mass of this personal 16mm archive—so that a film could possibly be shaped. But many STOPs, endings and conclusive transformations were concurrent. For instance the end of celluloid film as a production default, the end of the 4:3 SD video standard, and the end of a numeric set as I approached camera-roll #2500. Most convincing however was what signals the end of most home movie cycles: the self- conscience conclusion of my child’s prepubescence—in this case coinciding with a decisive (and I’d say heroic) transformation of gender expression.
It was not until this particular end was in sight that I began to consider the possibility of synchronized sound. Up until then the spring-driven Bolex camera I used made too convincing a case as the sole-silent technology, but now moved by the connection-disconnection of the two media channels somehow mirroring the fit/non-fit of the self and body, I started assigning alternating sections to be post-synchronized—and having on no occasion recorded sound along with the film, this required a process diametrically opposed to the veracity-embedding immediacy of film’s material responsiveness. It was instead, like drawing: a time consuming and wholly autonomous reconstruction.
On only one occasion did I have access to sound (a voice) recorded simultaneously with the image. By chance, a friend was shooting video alongside and years later made a gift of it. Only a few seconds of my kid speaking directly, as if to an audience, declaring the right of gender self-determination.
Jeff Preiss lives in New York City, where in 2005, he co-founded Orchard, a co-operative experimental exhibition space. There he collaborated on a series of films with Andrea Fraser, Nicolás Guagnini, Christian Philipp Müller, Josiah McElheny, Moyra Davey, and Anthony McCall. In 2013 he directed Low Down, a biopic based on the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany. It was released in 2014. Preiss was involved in The Collective for Living Cinema, an outpost of experimental filmmaking in New York in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s.