Michael Snow

(Toronto, 1928)

Wavelength, 1967

16mm, colour, sound, 45 min

ENG

Winner of the Grand Prize at the Fourth International Experimental Film Festival at Knokke-le-Zoute in 1967 and highly influential in its time, Wavelength is essentially a single 45 minute shot in which the camera slowly zooms in on a photograph pinned to one of the space’s walls. The room (and the zoom) are interrupted by four human events including a death. The sound on these occasions is sync sound, music and speech, occurring simultaneously with an electronic sound. The photo, of the sea, can be found on the cover of a 1970 LP Four Organs by  Steve Reich’ who pioneered minimalist music.

Wavelength demonstrates the strange affinity that film and music have, as media that by definition investigate time.  “In film,” observes Snow, “you have a control over duration – which is something that never existed before.  It’s like a clock – 24 frames a second.  It should be natural to think the medium involves composing with duration.”

“Wavelength was shot in one week in December, 1966, preceded by a year of notes, thoughts, mutterings. It was edited and first print seen in May, 1967. I wanted to make a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings, and aesthetic ideas. I was thinking of, planning for a time monument in which the beauty and sadness of equivalence would be
celebrated, thinking of trying to make a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of "illusion" and "fact", all about seeing. The space starts at the camera\'s (spectator\'s) eye, is in the air, then is on the screen, then is within the screen (the mind).
The film is a continuous zoom which takes 45 minutes to go from its widest field to its smallest and final field. It was shot with a fixed camera from one end of an 80 foot loft, shooting the other end, a row of windows and the street .... The room (and the zoom) are interrupted by four human events including a death. The sound on these occasions is sync sound, music and speech, occurring simultaneously with an electronic sound, a sine-wave .... It is a total glissando while the film is a crescendo and a dispersed spectrum which attempts to utilize the gifts of both prophecy and memory which only film and music have to offer.''

  Michael Snow

CAST

Ganadora en 1967 del Premio del cuarto Festival Internacional de Cine Experimental de Knokke-le-Zoute (Bélgica), y altamente influeyente en su época, Wavelength corresponde a la revelación de Snow como cineasta.  Con ella se abrió una trilogía consagrada del cine estructuralista junto conßà (Back and fourth, 1969) y La région centrale (1971).

La noción de cine estructural, fue introducida en 1969 por P. Adams Sitney para describir el cine experimental en que "resalta su configuración formal y cuyo contenido narrativo es mínimo y subsidiario a su estructura." En estos filmes, los recursos y particularidades del medio cinematográfico son el elemento central de secuencias que no son sino el registro de su propia construcción.  Wavelength se centra en la progresión imperturbable de un zoom que, al no perseguir las anécdotas ni las alteraciones que acontecen en su campo de visión, otorga el protagonismo de la película al espacio y al tiempo. Al cabo de 45 minutos  la secuencia se detiene sobre una fotografía del mar que está enganchada en una de las paredes de la habitación. Dicha fotografía corresponde a la portada del LP Four Organs (1970) del pionero músico minimalista Steve Reich y testifica del diálogo de snow con el minimalismo musical.  El título del Wavelength (longitud de onda), además de ser un guiño a la fotografía, invita a pensar en aquello que comparten la música y el cine, léase, la posibilidad de investigar la duración.