Film Title Poem + Poemfields nos. 2 & 5

Jennifer West/Stan VanDerBeek

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Two artists who approach text and language as both the subject and building blocks of their filmmaking, Jennifer West and Stan VanDerBeek have created celluloid “poetry” that deconstructs traditional narrative structures. In these three films, the word merges with the film frame while the eye deceives the mind.

Jennifer West’s Film Title Poem is an etched, hand-painted 35mm digitized film comprised of collaged words, images, patterns and glitches shot from over 500 movie title cards to a musical soundtrack. West describes the film as “a psychic montage of my inner-history of film in alphabetical order.” 

Film Title Poem
Jennifer West, US, 2016, 67 min. 35mm optical print transferred to HD

The film is structured by a computer alphabetical sorting process, beginning with numbered films and moving through the list of movies in alphabetical order. The images were shot using a flashlight creating the effect of lighting the walls of a completely dark space. It is comprised of shots of individual movie titles and isolated words from the titles; these create a rhythmic word and image viewing game for the viewer, as they decipher recognizable fragments. Shot on analog 35mm film, the film celluloid of 8,000 feet of optical prints were inscribed with etched patterns, outlines, tracings, punctures and marks emphasizing the materiality of the film – using a host of unconventional tools such as forks, vegetable peelers, shards of mirror and hole punchers.

This work is part of a wider project considering the idea of the “remembered” film and how fiction weaves itself into our lives and memories – and how our viewing experience, and thus memories, has changed with the digital and Internet revolutions. 

Preceded by:

Poemfield no. 2
Stan VanDerBeek, US, 1966, 7 min., color

Poemfield no. 5 (Free Fall)
Stan VanDerBeek, US, 1969, 6 min., color

About Jennifer West 
Jennifer West is an artist, who for over ten years, has gained international recognition for her explorations of materialism in film. Over the last two years, West has presented four solo exhibitions internationally, “Is Film Over? at Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China; “Action Movies, Painted Films and History Collage” at Man Museum, Nouro, Sardinia, Italy; “Film is Dead…” at Seattle Art Museum; and “Flashlight Filmstrip Projections” at Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland.  In addition to the major new works commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum and Tramway, she also completed a feature film for ICA London’s Art Night in 2016 and presented her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In conjunction with the Yuz Museum exhibition, a catalogue was produced and four films were acquired as a joint acquisition with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other significant commissions include the High Line Art, New York, NY; Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, and the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom. West has produced eleven Zine artist books that she gives away at her exhibitions and her writing has appeared in Artforum, Frieze and Mousse Magazine. She received her MFA from Art Center in Pasadena and her BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She has lectured widely on her ideas of the “Analogital” and is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Arts at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles.


About Stan VanDerBeek
A pioneer in the development of experimental film and live-action animation techniques, Stan VanDerBeek achieved widespread recognition in the American avant-garde cinema. An advocate of the application of a utopian fusion of art and technology, he began making films in 1955. In the 1960s, he produced theatrical, multimedia pieces and computer animation, often working in collaboration with Bell Telephone Laboratories. In the 1970s, he constructed a "Movie Drome" in Stony Point, New York, which was an audiovisual laboratory for the projection of film, dance, magic theater, sound and other visual effects. His multimedia experiments included movie murals, projection systems, planetarium events and the exploration of early computer graphics and image-processing systems.

VanDerBeek was also intimately involved with the artists and art movements of his time; he filmed Happenings and merged dance with films and videos. VanDerBeek was a preeminent thinker, scientist, artist, and inventor who forged new links between art, technology, perception, and humankind. In 1966, he wrote a visionary manifesto about man losing his way in his place on earth and the power of artists to rectify the course.

VanDerBeek was born in 1927 and died in 1984. He studied at Cooper Union and Black Mountain College, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Cooper Union in 1972. Among his numerous awards are grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and an American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award. He was artist-in-residence at WGBH and the University of South Florida, and professor of art at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. His work was the subject of retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Jennifer West, Film Title Poem Preview, 2016, 8 minutes