29 October 2007

Peter Hutton

London Tate Modern
Monday 29 October 2007, at 7pm

Films by Peter Hutton appear more closely related to landscape painting and still photography than contemporary cinema. In their stately portrayal of urban and rural locations, they afford the viewer a rarefied and highly-focused mode of looking, a stillness seemingly at odds with everyday life. Over shots of extended duration, the world reveals itself before the camera, which often records only subtle changes of light and atmospheric conditions.

Landscape (for Manon) (Peter Hutton, 1986-87)

Peter Hutton began making films in 1970 and has work in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, George Eastman House and the Austrian Film Museum. A former merchant seaman, he has been a professor of film at Bard College in the Hudson River Valley since 1985. His most recent film, At Sea, will screen in the London Film Festival on Sunday 28 October.

For this screening at Tate Modern, Peter Hutton will introduce works, made on land and sea, which relate to the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Curated by Mark Webber.
Presented in association with The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival.

Images of Asian Music (Peter Hutton, 1973-74)

Monday October 2007, at 7pm

Peter Hutton, 1980-81, b/w, silent, 16 min
The second part of an extended life’s portrait of New York. “Hutton’s black and white haikus are an exquisite distillation of the cinematic eye. The limitations imposed – no colour, no sound, no movement (except from a vehicle not directly propelled by the filmmaker), no direct cuts since the images are born and die in black – ironically entail an ultimate freedom of the imagination. If pleasure can disturb, Hutton’s ploys emerge in full focus. These materializing then evaporating images don’t ignite, but conjure strains of fleeting panoramas of detached bemusement. More than mere photography, Hutton’s contained-with-in-the-frame juxtapositions are filmic explorations of the benign and the tragic.” (Warren Sonbert)

Peter Hutton, 1979, b/w, silent, 8 min
Boston Fire finds grandeur in smoke rising eloquently from a city blaze. Billowing puffs of darkness blend with fountains of water streaming in from off-screen to orchestrate a play of primal elements. The beautiful texture of the smoke coupled with the isolation from the source of the fire erases the destructive impact of the event. The camera, lost in the immense dark clouds, produces images for meditation removed from the causes or consequences of the scene. The tiny firemen, seen as distant silhouettes, gaze in awe, helpless before nature’s power.” (Leger Grindon, Millennium Film Journal)

Peter Hutton, 1973-74, b/w, silent, 29 min
Images of Asian Music represents footage compiled during 1973-74 when Peter Hutton was living in Thailand and working at sea as a merchant seaman. While the film is silent, the title was intended to evoke a comparison to the movement of classical Asian music. Images of Asian Music is a personal celebration of Asia formed by a sensitivity to filmic composition and to the perception of these images in a silent time created by the filmmaker.” (Whitney Museum of American Art)

Peter Hutton, 1986-87, b/w, silent, 19 min
“Much of the imagery in Landscape (for Manon) is suggestive of Thomas Cole’s Catskill paintings – some of Hutton’s imagery was made in and around Kaaterskill Clove. In general, the film recalls those Cole paintings usually seen as forerunners of Luminism – ‘The Clove’, ‘Catskills’ (1827), for example, and ‘Catskill Creek’ (1845) – though the sensibility it reflects and the experience it provides is quite close to Fitz Hugh Lane, Martin Johnson Heade and John Frederick Kensett. Landscape (for Manon) is made up of twenty-two shots. The first and last shots frame the film as a tribute to Hutton’s young daughter, Manon: in the film’s delicate and arresting final shot, we see her face in close-up, double exposed with mottled light.” (Scott MacDonald, The Garden in the Machine)

Peter Hutton, 1991, b/w, silent, 10 min
In Titan’s Goblet refers to a landscape painting by Thomas Cole circa 1833. The film is intended as an homage to Cole, who is regarded as the father of the Hudson River School of painting. “Like Landscape (for Manon), In Titan’s Goblet depicts, in a series of often-stunning, silent, black and white, discrete images the Catskill Mountain area. In this case, however, a sequence of lovely images of what at first appears to be mist in the mountains is slowly revealed to be a distant fire of rubber tires that had burned out of control. That is, Hutton’s serene, evocative landscapes are, in this instance, qualified by an environmental problem – one that confronts our hunger for imagery of pristine nature.” (Scott MacDonald)


Starr Auditorium
Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
Nearest Tube: Southwark / London Bridge / Blackfriars

Tickets: £5 / £4 concessions, booking recommended
Box Office: 020 7887 8888

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