Motion Picture - La Sortie des Ouvriers de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon · Austria · 1984-2008 · 3'20”
The concept of the film and the accompanying object could be regarded as the fruit of my reading of Umberto Ecos’s "A Theory of Semiotics". Eco isolates what he calls the "light/dark code" as the fundamental photographic (and thus also filmic code). The elements of this code are tiny little dots and components which carry no meaning per se similar to the phonemes of spoken language. Only in combination with other such meaningless particles these photographic dots and shadows create figurative "meaning". With "Motion Picture La Sortie des Ouvriers de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon" I wanted to isolate these fundamental elements of the light/dark code and make them visible within a new film. Hence, I marched into the darkroom and mounted 50 strips of unexposed 16mm film on the wall, so that a surface of 50 x 80 cm was completely covered with these film strips. Then a frame from the first theatrical film ever, "La Sortie des Ouvriers de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon" (1895) by the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, was projected onto that surface. The exposed strips were developed and edited together (from left to right of their original position on the wall). The result is a three minute 16mm film showing the light-dark elements of the Lumière image, emptied of all figurative content. Additionally the original film strips were put into a wooden box reminiscent of an early Lumière camera to be exhibited next to the projected film.
It is the logical imperative of a purely profit-oriented industry that has created a seemingly paradoxical movement within the course of (film) history. The emergence of modern art at the end of the 19th century gained its dynamism from an exploration of its materiality. Today, at the very moment that the digital industry has set out to destroy analog cinema – a fully developed artistic medium – film art is returning to this origin, explicitly revealing the beauty of its materiality – a profoundly unique beauty that cannot be digitized, a beauty that will be lost forever if we do not take up arms.
Peter Tscherkassky started making films in 1979. Today he is acclaimed as one of the most significant film artists in the world. His films have been honored with more than 50 awards including the Golden Gate Award (San Francisco), Main Prize at Oberhausen, and Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival. Tscherkassky earned his Phd. in philosophy in 1986 with a dissertation entitled „Film as Art“, and started teaching in 1988. He has organized several film festivals and curated countless film programs. Since 1984 he has published numerous essays on avant-garde film and in 1995 co-edited „Peter Kubelka“ with Gabriele Jutz. In 1991 he co-founded „sixpackfilm“. In 2005 Instructions for A Light And Sound Machine was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and a bilingual (English/German) monograph entitled „Peter Tscherkassky“ was published. His light box installations have been exhibited throughout the world, including a one-person show at the renowned Gallery naechst St. Stephan/Rosemarie Schwarzwaelder. 2008: Lecture and world premiere of the original 35mm version of Parallel Space: Inter-View (1992) at the Louvre in Paris. 2010: World premiere of Coming Attractions at the 67th Venice Film Festival. Editor of the book „Film Unframed: A History of Austrian Avant-Garde Cinema“ (2012).