Saturday, May 26, 2007

sing the body electric

Images from, and quotes on, the films of Matthias Müller:

Aus der ferne (1989)
"By emphasizing the materiality of the film, Müller sets up one of its most striking metaphors: the film as body. The metaphor is enacted through both the celluloid film strip and the camera. Müller's reshooting and hand-processing techniques demonstrate a fetishistic attitude to the medium. The film materializes as an object to be cherished, but it is one that can be touched and felt, subsequently undergoing a variety of transformations at the hands of its filmmaker. There is indeed a distinct eroticism to Müller's treatment of the film footage, particularly in the way his transformations of the film appear as imprints on a sensuous surface." (Roger Hallas)

Sleepy Haven (1993)
"Its mottled, fissured surfaces resemble nothing so much as a body, its solarized apertures imparting a hallucinatory beauty which threatens always to break apart entirely, the skin of its material support pitilessly stretched across their fantastical recline." (Mike Hoolboom)

Scattering Stars (1994)
"...a paean to light, a glittering bodice of a film that rapturously unfolds its subject with a shimmering luminosity. Photographed in a luminously grainy super-8, its depiction of an orgasmic fireworks display, rendered here in monochromatic explosions of light and dark, underscores a furtive male passion, bodies glimpsed in retreat..." (Mike Hoolboom)


Blogger shahn said...

these images are stunning.
are the films easy to find for viewing?

7:29 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Shahn - I'm not aware of any dvd releases of Muller's films and I really have no idea where the few titles of his that I have actually come from. The material that he actually shoots himself is comparable to some of James Broughton's films (like Song of the Godbody, where a similar effect is achieved without any celluloid transformation), and there's a collection of Broughton's films which *are* available on dvd.

12:35 PM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

I like Matthias Mueller very much, and am very impressed by your post. Inspired by you, I decided to post something about Matthias Mueller, too. :-)

6:20 AM  
Blogger celinejulie said...

I don’t know if this information will be useful or not, but I would like to tell you or anyone interested in Matthias Mueller that you can watch his film ALPSEE (1994) from a videocassette called X-PILATION. This video is available from

2.You might be able to borrow it from a library in your local Goethe Institute.

This video has no English subtitles, but I strongly recommend this video for any non-German speakers. This video include 7 short German experimental films, 5 of them need no subtitles, because they barely have dialogues or voiceovers. Only 2 short films in this video should have had English subtitles. I haven't heard that there is a DVD version of this video.

The short films in this video are:

15 min

2.THE BASIS OF MAKE UP (1983, Heinz Emigholz, A+)
20 min, silent

21 min.
This film has voiceover and should have had English subtitles. I saw this film once with English subtitles in the Michael Brynntrup retrospective held at the Goethe Institute in Bangkok in 2001. The film puzzled me in a similar way as Alexander Kluge's films.

4.BETWEEN (1989, Claudia Schillinger, A+)
10 min
People who love Catherine Breillat might love this film.

5.THE NARRATIVE FILM (1988, Uli Sappok)
4 min
This film has voiceover and should have had English subtitles.

6.STADT IN FLAMMEN (1984, Schmelzdahin, A+)
6 min
This is a found footage film and is my most favorite in this video compilation. Schmelzdahin is a group of filmmakers who worked together between 1979-1989. This group comprises Jochen Lempert, Jochen Mueller, and Juergen Reble.

This is the description of the film by Owen O'Toole:

"Stadt in Flammen is the most volcanic film I've ever seen; the emulsion literally crawls off the film base, like a lava flowing across terrain. Vague generic hospital (soap opera?) footage cracks and crumbles, seeths in the frame in a slow-motion dissolve. Like ancient paintings crack and fall away from their surfaces. This is the other side of Schmelzdahin - the mutilated film. Though they may sumtimes claim to shoot no film themselves (only re-working found footage), don't believe it. Schmelzdahin also have built a super 8 optical printer with which they make their film discoveries. (Owen O' Toole 1989/90)"

21 min

3:19 PM  

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