Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Film Feedback

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To make his short Film Feedback, Tony Conrad set up a camera, fast-processing apparatus, and projector in close proximity so that a continuous unexposed reel was processed right out of the camera and then fed directly into the projector to be refilmed by the camera. The result is a series of receding rectangles: black inside white, then white inside black, and so on. Like the images reflected in two parallel mirrors, the smaller rectangles get fuzzier and fuzzier, and after 15 minutes, as the film approaches cinema's limits of resolution, it ends. Unlike most films, this depiction of part of cinema's essence isn't telegraphing any messages; in fact it depends entirely on the viewer for its meaning. As the rectangles grew fuzzier, I found myself reflecting on film's limited resolution, as well as wondering about the way many films purport to depict--and even offer insight into--the outer world without acknowledging the makers' biases or the way recording something on film changes it. In this sense Film Feedback, by depicting only a mechanism of cinema itself, represents one of the most authentic uses of the medium ever. Here it's on a program with live music by Jim O'Rourke and films by Joseph Cornell and Larry Jordan. Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Saturday, September 10, 8:00, 384-5533.

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