Current Thinking, Jan 2021…… Optical Printing and Over-Exposure

How animated film techniques and DIY film processing give form to the otherwise invisible. In Optic Nerve (1985), Barbara Hammer optically prints and layers materials as a means to reflect on aging, family and health issues, deploying film in ways that cross over into medical imaging.  Her Sanctus (1990), ‘reworks x-ray…by elaborate optical printing, use of colour and intense sound’ (Chuck Kleinhans). Meantime, Sandra Lahire’s ecological films, including Serpent River (1989), employ optical printing to manipulate aesthetics of filmic exposure. Both Hammer (US) and Lahire (UK) were, during the same decade, using methods of over-layering and over-exposure to bring form to that which would otherwise remain non-perceivable.  Lahire,  ‘makes visible the invisible menace of radioactivity’ (Lux) [1] and her work is described as, ‘over-exposed like an x-ray‘ (Maud Jacquin, 2019).  This possibility, of using experimental film techniques to bring visibility to aspects of ecological health that might otherwise remain outside of our senses, has recently been the subject of my writing, in  Experimental Time-lapse Animation and the Manifestation of Change and Agency in Objects (2017). [2] It is an ongoing line of enquiry that I’m exploring through writing and film-making.