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Michael Snow: A Filmography by Max Knowles 1971 Introducing and publishing this text involves some slight embarrassment. New York City, 1971: Artforum magazine was planning a film issue. Annette Michelson said she was working on an article about my film La Region Centrale. Pleased though I was by that prospect, I thought it would be a good thing if there was also a piece about my film work in general. I chose to write this one pseudonymously (Max Knowles was the author) and intended to submit it but never did. After all, who would know more about my work than I did? It was an interesting exercise trying to write objectively, but some of the praise is touching. I tried to present a consistent persona/style (supposedly not mine) in the writing. M.S. M ichael Snow's first film, A to Z (4 minutes, colour, silent, 1956), shows a crepuscular scene, a cross-hatched blue ink drawing of tables and chairs, cups and saucers, which comes to animated life. Hindsight hints of things to come are evoked by the scalar title, legato mood and oddly the anthropomorphic chairs ("two chairs fuck," says Snow) who prophesy the heroic presence of the yellow chair in Wavelength , done 10 years later. Snow's first exhibition (of drawings such as this) occurred in Toronto in 1955, and was visited by George Dunning, who had started a film company there and who was later to direct the Beatles' film Yellow Submarine. Dunningperspicaciously saw movie talent in the drawings and contacted Snow with the offer of a job. A to Z was done independently while Snow was working as an animator at Dunning's Graphic Associates . A co-worker there was Joyce Wieland. Snow continued to work simultaneously on drawings and paintings as well as being a jazz pianist during the two years of the company's existence. Music became full-time employment after that, and the other work and other exhibitions also continued. But he did not finish another film till 1964. A knotted relationship between works in various media distinguishes his career, so that a discussion of his films must inevitably refer to affiliated areas. Amongst the first works done during the Walking Woman dynasty (1961-67) were some in which images of this falciform-headed figure were placed in various non-gallery sites and photographed. Gallery works were subsequently done using the photos though many of these works were designed to disappear into the environment,to be "lost" rather than "found." One of these photo-documentation works from 1962, Four to Five (the title this time a temporal scale), was the precursor of a never-completed Walking Woman film in progress during 1962 and '63, Snow's first years in New York. Business 61 M 62 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow complications with its producer prevented its completion, though the 3 hours of footage that were shot do still exist. In 1964 Snow completed New York Eye and Ear Control (34 minutes, black and white, sound). Sound, indeed! A hallucinatingly raucous sound track of free jazz played by a group seemingly led by the late, great Albert Ayler on tenor saxophone (Snow was an early admirer) roars from an asymmetrical position against the relative stillness of a stately processional unfolding of grisaille images. In a 1965 essay in an altogether remarkable document, the catalogue of the New York Film-Makers' Cooperative, Richard Foreman, extraordinary playwright of the Ontological-Hysteric theatre, writes of this film: "One of the major achievements of the sixties. . . . As in no other film yet seen its alternately soft and granite images lift us toward the year 2000: capturing not events, not objects, but again and again registering a 'placement' of consciousness - the subject matter of the future, really." In 1963 and '64 Joyce Wieland (Snow) made films, and she and Snow often attended screenings at the New York Film-Makers' Cinematheque. Planningto show it at the historic Expanded Cinema festival at the Cinematheque in 1965, Snow made Little Walk, a 3-minute 8 mm color film with a sound track by Snow on piano. It was designed to be projected on a flat white cut-out screen in the shape of the Walking Woman. This film has been lost but was shown several times and consisted of images variously fitting or overflowing the curvy contours of the feminine screen. Variations of this somewhat procrustean scheme had also been used in New York Eye and Ear Control and...


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