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246 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow his work in thermodynamics. We're all steeped in thermodynamics in the physical sense but I have particularly revered Clerk-Maxwell because he became, in a very brief aside in a lecture delivered at the Royal College of Edinburgh, or some place like that, the Father of the analytical theory of colour which in its applications and ramifications has given us colour photography and colour cinematography. He said that he thought that colours could be analyzed into three components - a red component, a green component and a blue component - and that all colours could be re-synthesized from these three colours, so that in this case, all filmmakers owe Clerk-Maxwell a considerable debt." People like Clerk-Maxwell were models and ideals for Hollis in a way that he perhaps didn't realize till recently. In the same interview, I also asked him what I thought was a mildly inflammatory question: "Are your films quote 'literary' unquote, and what could this possibly mean to you?" He used the term "establishment film" in his answer, saying, rightly of course, that his films had nothing to do with their use of literature. He also referred to his memorable titles. I felt that his filmic work was affected in other ways by the range and depth of reading and hoped he'd think so too. I think, for one, that syntax, grammar , literary form and linguistic knowledge are often his latent models for film structures , his ideal of satisfying form. He was extremely interested in systems of all kinds and the relative preponderance of their shared qualities. Musical, scientific and mathematical models were all influences. The title of his 1970 film Zorn's Lemma is another homage to a scientist: Max Zorn, a Swedish nineteenth-century mathematician. My dictionary says that a lemma as a mathematical term means a subsidiary theorem, proved, in order to be used in proving the main theorem. Zorn's particular lemma concerned principles of describing the hierarchical order of certain sets: "Every partially ordered set contains a maximal fully ordered subset." Hollis's film is one of several examples in his work where the individual word is used as the basic structural unit of the work, which reminds me of a story Hollis once told me. During the Sixties we all took LSD at least once, including Hollis. His story concerned how he and several other people were somewhere in Ohio, I think, (Yellow Springs?), had taken LSD and decided to go for a drive. They came to a street with a stop sign. The driver stopped, then gradually he and his passengers lost the signification of the signifier which had stopped them. Perhaps at first one of the driver's thoughts was that STOP was a one-time order, then what could you do? Anyway, according to Hollis, he and all the passengers got out of the car to discuss the stop sign. What was it? A mystic symbol of some kind? The importance of the interpretations became stronger and stronger, more and more cosmic, until another car's horn snapped someone's memory back to the quotidian function of the image they were perplexed by and they rode on. Since the deus ex machina of the ancient Greek plays, machinery has had some involvement with art. But not much. Photography and cinema are really the first machine arts. The issue of the role of the subjectivity of the artist vis-a-vis the intermediary of the camera-machine and its product has been hotly discussed since the beginning of these devices and their uses. Hollis was, as he said in 1969, interested in "the technologies" practically, as opposed to what he said was his "spectatorial" interest in science. In 1982, he might have said something else but, unfortunately, I only heard a few words from him that expressed this. ...


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