installation (video projection, loop)
Light Is Calling· UEA · 2004 · 8'
A scene from a deteriorating print of James Young’s “The Bells” (1926) was optically printed and re-edited to Michael Gordon’s 7 minute composition. A meditation on the nature of random collisions.
Release · UEA · 2010 · 13'
On March 17, 1930, a crowd assembled outside Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary in hopes of witnessing Al Capone's release from prison. (He in fact had already been released the night before.) Filmmaker Bill Morrison and composer Vijay Iyer turn a single panning shot of that scene and its accompanying audio track into a split-screen surround sound panoramic film that continually doubles back on itself, creating a 13-minute trance on the nature of spectacle and spectatorship.
Outerborough · EUA · 2005 · 9'
In 1899 a cameraman for American Mutoscope & Biograph mounted his camera to the front of a trolley traveling over the Brooklyn Bridge. Three 90-foot rolls were edited to together to complete the journey from Manhattan to Brooklyn. As the film was shot on the short-lived 68mm gauge, it had not been screened before modern audiences until the British Film Institute recently restored it to 35mm. As a commission by the Museum of Modern Art for the re-opening of the Museum in 2005, Morrison took this remarkable footage and recombined it with itself to form a split-screen extrapolation in Cinemascope.
The Creature's Education (excerpt from Spark of Being) · EUA · 2010 · 8'
"Spark of Being" (68’, 2010) is Morrison's takes on Mary Shelley's classic "Frankenstein", piecing together a new tale of re-animation using archival documentary film footage edited to re-tell Shelley's tale of an appropriated life, set to an original score performed by Dave Douglas and Keystone. "The Creature's Education" is an excerpted chapter from that longer film, in which the Creature learns about the world from a compilation of water damaged educational films.
Time is a central aspect in all cinema—the illusion of the art form is, after all, based upon fragments of seconds, thrown into rapid succession—but the constant movement of time, the inexorable march of history, is especially unavoidable in the films of Bill Morrison. In his work, the passage of time appears in different guises: as both a historical process that traces the evolution of humanity throughout history and as an autonomous, existential force to which all matter, living and otherwise, must fall prey. Whether treating the march of time as fodder for a narrative of human history or as an irreversible process of flux and decay, Morrison’s films utilize traces of found footage littered throughout our cinematic past, ambitiously attempting to grapple with the ambiguous concept of “time” itself.
A Poetic Archaeology of Cinema: The Films of Bill Morrison
by Matt Levine
Over the past twenty years Bill Morrison has built a filmography of more than thirty projects that have been presented in theaters, museums, galleries and concert halls worldwide. His work often makes use of rare archival footage in which forgotten film imagery is reframed as part of our collective mythology. Morrison's films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Nederlands Filmmuseum, and The Library of Congress. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award.