– Alexander Horwath, Director of the Austrian Film Museum
What we usually identify as the indisputable ‘temple of film’, the Cinema, is not really a given, especially not in the realm of experimental cinematic arts. Yet this is somehow sidelined in the process of re-thinking the possibilities of cinematic experience, mostly because the architectural frame is already there, if only as a convention established a long time ago within the theatrical arts. Actually, the history of experimental cinema and the art of the moving image suggests that the space might very well be the crucial aspect of the total audiovisual experience – something one should always question and take into consideration when producing a work for audiovisual, sensory cinema.
For the Vertical Cinema project we ‘abandoned’ traditional cinema formats, opting instead for cinematic experiments that are designed for projection in a tall, narrow space. It is not an invitation to leave cinemas – which have been radically transformed over the past decade according to the diktat of the commercial film market – but a provocation to expand the image onto a new axis. This project re-thinks the actual projection space and returns it to the filmmakers. It proposes a future for filmmaking rather than a pessimistic debate over the alleged death of film.
Vertical Cinema is a series of fourteen commissioned large-scale, site-specific works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which will be presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector in vertical cinemascope.
The programme is made solely for projection on a monumental vertical screen that was first upended in 2013 at Kontraste Festival in Krems, Austria. Four newly commissioned films premiered at the opening evening of Sonic Acts Festival 2017 in Amsterdam.
Vertical Cinema features works by Tina Frank (AT), Björn Kämmerer (DE/AT), Manuel Knapp (AT), Johann Lurf (AT), Joost Rekveld (NL), Rosa Menkman (NL), Billy Roisz (AT) & Dieter Kovačič (AT), Makino Takashi (JP) & Telcosystems (NL), Esther Urlus (NL), Martijn van Boven (NL) & Gert-Jan Prins (NL), Susan Schuppli (UK), Lukas Marxt (AT), HC Gilje (NO), BJ Nilsen (SE) & Karl Lemieux (CA).
These fourteen experimental films are screened live on a vertical monument, a monolith, are a unique blend of abstract cinema, structural experiments, found footage remixes, chemical film explorations and live laser action. The artists offer their view of ‘vertical axis art’, and the results of this challenging commission are fascinating.