The explosion of experimental filmmaking in the 1970s occurred on two fronts. Artists associated with the London Filmmakers’ Co-op tended to see the phenomenon and material of film as a source of subject matter. Conceptual artists saw film primarily as a recording and documenting medium. Characteristically, the works in this sequence make statements and propose ideas. 

Films showing in this section: 

John Latham Speak 1962
Tony Morgan Description 1970 1970
David Tremlett Non-Improvisation 1 (Piano) 1971
Mike Dunford Tautology 1973
David Lamelas To Pour Milk Into a Glass 1973
John Latham Britannica 1971

John Latham Speak 1962

10 minutes. Collection: Lux 

TIME IS UNREAL as a real idea’ wrote John Latham in a statement accompanying a showing of Britannica, which ends this sequence of films. Much of Latham’s filmmaking has been concerned with interrogating the concept of Time. The rapid-fire animation of circles and dots in Speak heightens our awareness of both time-passing and intervals within time. 

Biography:

John Latham was born in Rhodesia in 1921. He studied at Chelsea School of Art and taught at St Martins School of Art, London. He founded the Artists Placement Group (APG) in 1968. Latham’s filmmaking began as a means of recording the evolution of his bookworks Unedited Material From Star 1960, but developed to embrace collaborative works with the Event Structure Research Group, abstract animation in the 1960s, and works made for television in the 1990s. 

Tony Morgan Description 1970 1970

11 minutes. Collection: Artist

Description 1970 was made by Tony Morgan as a group of Düsseldorf-based friends prepared the exhibition Strategy: Get Arts for showing in Edinburgh. Various kinds of ‘description’ are observed. Women describe their male partners, sometimes apparently from memory, and sometimes accompanied by the image of a different man; film describes the video image. Objectivity is questioned. Morgan has identified the participating couples as ‘Blinky Palermo and Christina, Sigmar Polke and Karin, Joseph Beuys and Usu, Alfred Schmela and his wife, George Brecht and Takako, Daniel Spoerri and Hette Hunerman, Gerhard Richter and Eva, Robert Filliou and Marianne, Karl Ruhburg and his wife’. 

Biography:

Tony Morgan was born in 1938. He studied at the Northern Polytechnic, London, and Düsseldorf Academy. He made nearly fifty films 1968-76, exhibiting at Documenta 4, Information MOMA NY 1970, Prospect 71 Düsseldorf 1971. Some, such as Haircut , 1975 recorded performances; others, such as Wall Slap, (Lisson Gallery) 1971 were sculptural installations; many involved collaborations (with Robert Filliou, George Brecht, Lutz Mommartz and Bob Law). Morgan now paints and occasionally makes films and tapes. He lives in Geneva. 

David Tremlett Non-Improvisation 1 (Piano) 1971

7 minutes. Collection: Artist 

David Tremlett’s film juxtaposes the lines of a large grid-like drawing with a recording of a piano tuner at work. The drawing was made specifically for the film, and its repetitive structure relates to looped sound tapes the artist had been making. The sound, which was identified and added after filming the drawing, gives the work its sense of purpose. To the artist ‘the film represented a way of thinking; as an object it was less important’. 2003 

Biography:

David Tremlett was born in 1945. He studied at Falmouth College of Art, Birmingham College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 1992 he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in recognition of his ‘many recent exhibitions on the Continent’, often of ephemeral pastel wall-drawings relating to the architectural space that contains them, or of ‘bits and pieces you bump into’. His filmmaking was confined to the early 1970s. 

Mike Dunford Tautology 1973

5 minutes. Collection: Lux 

‘Each time I make a film I see it as a kind of hypothesis, or a questioning statement’ wrote Mike Dunford, in 1973. Dunford is associated with Structural film, which combined analysis of the structuring of perception with an exploration of film’s material components. But the single ironic assertion at the centre of this film is purely conceptual, and it illustrates how closely Structural film and Conceptual film were related. 

Biography:

Mike Dunford was born in 1946. He studied sculpture at Goldsmith’s College, London, where he began making Super 8mm films. He was an active member of the London Filmmakers’ Co-op between 1968-70, before attending the Royal College of Art, when his film work took on a more committed political position. He retired from filmmaking for more than a decade, but began making video work again in the early 1990s. He lives in London. 

David Lamelas To Pour Milk Into a Glass 1973

8 minutes. Collection: BFI National Film & Television Archive Courtesy the artist. 

Many of David Lamelas’s works are exercises designed to test how meaning is constructed in film. ‘I wanted to find symbols for ‘container’ and ‘contents’ - to represent how the camera frames - and what is shown on screen. ..I decided to use a glass and milk. The eight sequences end with… the glass being shattered and the milk splattering all over the table, which implies that there is no way to contain information’. 2001 

Biography:

David Lamelas was born in Buenos Aires in 1946. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes and St Martins School of Art. He exhibited film installations at Prospect 71 Düsseldorf 1971 and Nigel Greenwood and Jack Wendler Galleries in London from 1972. He moved to California in 1974 and now lives in Berlin and Los Angeles. He recently recommenced video making. 

John Latham Britannica 1971

6 minutes. Collection: Lux 

Information is also a central concern in John Latham’s Britannica. Our ability to read and digest the knowledge stored in the multi-volume encyclopaedia is challenged by Latham’s acceleration of time - his other major preoccupation - through film animation. 

Biography:

John Latham was born in Rhodesia in 1921. He studied at Chelsea School of Art and taught at St Martins School of Art, London. He founded the Artists Placement Group (APG) in 1968. Latham’s filmmaking began as a means of recording the evolution of his bookworks Unedited Material From Star 1960, but developed to embrace collaborative works with the Event Structure Research Group, abstract animation in the 1960s, and works made for television in the 1990s.