Ralph Steiner, H2O, 1929 (12 min) [please turn off the music]
If I am not filming birds, I am filming water. There is just such a quality to water that words cannot accurately describe. A Buddhist saying goes something like this: "You never stand in the same river twice." The range of tones, the texture of the water, the bubbles floating in groups, all contribute to a tactile memory sense of what water means to me. And then there are the flowing reflections, exquisite.
Slavko Vorkapich Slavko & John Hoffman, Moods of the Sea, 1941 (9 min)
This film is edited in such a way that the swells of Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave and the crashing waves coincide. The soaring of the Gulls and the music is exciting to watch. Then there is the section almost half way in, the music builds as the sea builds and then CRASH, the water crashes over and over itself. I am glad there was such an attention given to the birds. They are so integral to the seashore.
Bill Viola, The Reflecting Pool, 1977-79 (7 min)
A man, Bill Viola, walks out of the woods to a pool of water, clothed. We can see the anticipation, his toes wiggle, and then, with a shout, he jumps, freezing in mid air without a reflection on the water. He very slowly begins to fade. We can still hear water running and birds chirping, however half the visual is suspended; the water still moves even with sets of ripples with no clear cause. Then reflections or shadows in the water without a visible owner. We see the effect of someone "cannon-balling" in the water, just no one to make it. He emerges, naked, and walks back into the woods. I have always thought of this film as a death and rebirth of a person. The ripples, splashes and reflections are caused by past events in which the cause was not as important as the effect.
Ann Marie Fleming, Waving, 1987 (5 min)
A poem about Fleming's Grandma, reflecting past memories from childhood and her eventual death, plays as a woman in a dress floats and swims underwater, occasionally popping up for air. There is an almost contentment on her face, a peace. Then Ave Maria plays and the woman looks like she drown. For the whole film we only have a view from under the water.
One of my Grandma's died almost three weeks ago, the other one is living. I used to swim and just found out how fond of swimming she was.
Bill Morrison, Lost Avenues, 1991 (6 min)
Watching the Humpback whale and its calf swimming and then the destruction of the film, I knew there was going to be a whale hunt somewhere in this film. I was more intrigued with the positioning of the whale and the human child playing; equating the whale's life to the child's as perhaps saying the whale was someone's child too. I enjoyed the quality of the water during the sections of manipulated film as the texture and/or shape of water was toyed with.
Stan Brakhage, Commingled Containers, 1996 (2 min)
Going off the title, there appears to be containers of fluids where some fluids do not mix with the other one creating organic floating/swimming "entities". Then there are the quick cuts to hand painted cameraless sections and other sections of fast flowing water. This film seems to show the elegance and grace of water as well as its chaotic and possibly destructive sides.
Bill Morrison, Light is Calling, 2004 (8 min)
While there is no actual water portrayed, the (possible) reticulation of the film, the manipulation of the emulsion as to reposition it back on itself leading to cracks and a wrinkled look, created a watery effect, but only after the film was slowed down. There are glimpses of a film that pop out every so often. It is almost like watching footage being projected through flowing water. I watched part of the film without the sound and the mood of the film immediately changed. The soundtrack pushes the film sadder than it seems to be.
Carolee Schneemann, Infinity Kisses - The Movie, 2008 (9 min)
This movie was comprised of still shots, presented in an uneven split screen and consisting of fairly obnoxious cat and human kisses. The larger frame showed what seemed to be the whole image (left), and the smaller one showed an extreme close-up of one section of the image, often rotated. I love my cats (one is sitting on my lap as I write this, purring, and head butting my arm for attention), but I draw the line when it comes to kisses. I enjoyed the processed sound, but mostly just the purring.