The Unseen Festival, Program 6: Mit Out Sound: Silent Films with Sonic Accompaniment, Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 7:30pm

T H E  U N S E E N  F E S T I V A L

Join us on Tuesday, September 26, 7:30pm for Program 6 of the Unseen Festival: Mit Out Sound: Silent Films with Sonic Accompaniment. Screening will be silent films by innovators Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, Fernand Leger, and Dimitri Kirsanoff. D. Brigman will provide sonic accompaniment for each filmThe screening will be preceding by a reading curated by Diana Khoi Nguyen, featuring Romana Ausubel and Alexander Lumans.



D. Brigman is an artist currently living in Denver, CO. His aural works explore densely layered soundscapes and integrated textures from raw source material. Utilizing diverse techniques within abstract composition, the result—existing somewhere among sound collage, musique concrete, drone, power electronics, and harsh noise. Since 2005, an extensive discography has been released through predominantly independent and experimental labels (Anarchy Moon, Featherspines, Lotus Sound, Meditations, Monolithic Document, Painted Records, Peyote Tapes, Sick Sick Sick) with distribution in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.



Ghosts Before Breakfast, by Hans Richter. 1929. 8 min.

German born artist and filmmaker Hans Richter believed it was the responsibility of the artist to reveal truth and beauty through art. Ghosts Before Breakfast reveals this philosophy, in which Richter, through his artistic vision, reexamines aspects of our everyday reality. At once, the work discloses Richter’s interests in Dada and Surrealism presenting a series of illogical images—a man’s bowtie magically moves and unties itself, men’s beards grow and then disappear, bowler hats fly around in the air, and men vanish behind a pole. Richter explains, “Objects are also people and [they] follow their own laws”— “the rhythm of the clock.” Order is returned once the clock strikes noon and objects assume their proper functions. 16mm. B&W. Silent. 1929. 8 min.

Symphonie Diagonale (Diagonal Symphony), by Viking Eggeling. 1924. 7 min.

Symphonie Diagonale (Diagonal Symphony) is one of the earliest works in abstract film to have been conserved and it is the only one by Viking Eggeling that has survived to our day. During the film white geometric shapes appear, constantly being generated over a black background, in the form of luminous lines that emerge from nowhere. All attention is focused on the line and on the transformation of the shapes, not on their movement, because they remain static. With its straight lines and simple curves, the film shows an attempt to create a language built of basic elements, a kind of sign writing similar to that found in the artist’s paintings and drawings, where certain echoes of Paul Cézanne’s painting can be seen. It is a poem of rhythmic forms, with time intervals that make reference to a visual music already implicit in the title of the piece; but in contrast to the horizontal sense of Western musical notation, the work proposes a diagonal rupture. 16mm. B&W. Silent. 1924. 7 min.

Manhatta, by Sheeler and Strand. 1921. 11 min.

In 1921, Sheeler and Strand collaborated to make Manhatta, considered to be the first American avant-garde film. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem “Mannahatta,” which is quoted in one of the intertitles, the film portrays life in New York City in sixty-five non-narrative shots. The sequences display one epic day in Lower Manhattan, beginning with a ferry approaching the city in early morning and ending with a sunset view from a skyscraper. Shot from extreme camera angles, the film captures the dynamic qualities of the new metropolis. 16mm. B&W. Silent. 1921. 11 min.

Ballet Méchanique, by Fernand Léger. 1924. 14 min.

This film remains one of the most influential experimental works in the history of cinema. The only film made directly by the artist Fernand Léger, it demonstrates his concern during this period—shared with many other artists of the 1920s—with the mechanical world. In Léger’s vision, however, this mechanical universe has a very human face. The objects photographed by Dudley Murphy, an American photographer and filmmaker, are transformed by the camera and by the editing rhythms and juxtapositions. In Ballet Méchanique, repetition, movement, and multiple imagery combine to animate and give an aesthetic raison d’être to the clockwork structure of everyday life. The visual pleasures of kitchenware—wire whisks and funnels, copper pots and lids, tinned and fluted baking pans—are combined with images of a woman carrying a heavy sack on her shoulder, condemned like Sisyphus (but through a cinematic sense of wit) to climb and re-climb a steep flight of stairs on a Paris street. The dynamic qualities of film and its capacity to express the themes of a kinetic 20th-century reach a significant level of accomplishment in this early masterpiece of modern art. 16mm. B&W. Silent. 1924. 14 min.

Menilmontant, by Dimitri Kirsanoff. 1926. 35 min.

Dimitri Kirsanoff, starring his wife, Nadia Sibirskayo, made this film in his spare time and with limited finances. A huge success at the time, technically it is considered one of the most refined films of the French avant-garde, a classic. 16mm. B&W. Silent. 1926. 35 min.

Readers and Reading Curator

Ramona Ausubel is the author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, which was a San Francisco Chronicle and NPR best book of the year, as well as No One is Here Except All of Us, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction and A Guide to Being Born, a New York Times Notable Book.  Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, One Story, Ploughshares and elsewhere.  She is a faculty member of the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.






Alexander Lumans was the Spring 2014 Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University. He was also awarded a fellowship to the 2015 Arctic Circle Residency, where he sailed around Svalbard, Norway in a tall ship. His fiction has appeared in Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Story Quarterly, American Short Fiction, Cincinnati Review, among others. He has been awarded fellowships to MacDowell, Yaddo, VCCA, Blue Mountain Center as well as scholarships to Sewanee and Bread Loaf. He received the 2015 Wabash Fiction Prize from Sycamore Review, the 2013 Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, and the 2011 Barry Hannah Fiction Prize from Yalobusha Review. He graduated from the M.F.A. Fiction Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and now teaches at University of Colorado-Denver.



Born in Los Angeles, Diana Khoi Nguyen is a poet and multimedia artist whose work has appeared widely in literary journals such as PoetryAmerican Poetry Review, Boston Review, PEN America, and The Iowa Review, among others. A winner of the 92Y’s Discovery / Boston Review 2017 Poetry Contest, she currently lives in Colorado where she is pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Denver. Her first book, Ghost Of, is forthcoming from Omnidawn in April 2018.