MAY 22 - AUGUST 22, 2008
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Silent Films, featuring a continuous program of travelogue, scientific and industrial films on three side-by-side screens, presents a lesser known film genre outside of its historical context. During the silent era, short nonfiction films were some of the most frequently seen subjects in movie theaters. Yet these films are rarely seen today despite their unmistakable beauty and mystery. Travelogue phantom-ride films, as well as scientific time-lapse and slow-motion films, explored different styles of cinematic technique than fiction films, and like cinema more generally, early nonfiction films would come to be of particular interest to avant-garde artists such as the Surrealists. This exhibition separates these films from their particular context in the history of film and art and allows visitors to enjoy in them as contemporary objects of curiosity and splendor.
Silent Films was paired with the exhibition Bedroom Paintings. "Bedroom paintings", a term ascribed to the prominent abstract painter David Reed, refers to painting that aspires to immediate pleasurable effects. Silent Films presents films from a narrow historical period but highlights the aesthetic power of these films over their historical significance. Pairing bodies of work in two diverse mediums separated by almost a century, these exhibitions ask visitors to reflect on the extent to which history matters when looking at images.
Silent Films courtesy of the British Film Institute, the George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, and the Netherlands Film Museum.
Silent Films is curated by is curated by Jennifer Peterson (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Before coming to CU in Fall 2005, Jennifer Peterson taught at the University of California at Riverside, the University of Southern California, and the California Institute of the Arts. She also worked as an Oral Historian at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Her articles have appeared in Cinema Journal, The Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, American Cinema's Transitional Era, and The Time Machine: Cinema and Travel. She is currently completing work on a book entitled Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Silent Nonfiction Film, to be published by Duke University Press.