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Stadt in Flammen (Schmelzdahin), 1984

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narrative content. Through the structural deconstruction and reconstruction of cinematic structure, he points to precisely that what he does not provide, that is the illusionism of narrative film. «Snows goal is to bring the spectator to the fullest possible recognition of both qualities of the cinematic image: its referential nature as representation of the visual world and its essential nature as, in Snow's words, ‹projected moving light image›.»[15]

In general, experimental films do not intend to reproduce reality, but to interpret it or to expose how we perceive it. In particular the representative function of film is critiqued when the self-referentiality of film images takes the place of extra-cinematic referentiality.

All the same, the proponents of structural film with their formal intentions do not receive the same public attention as their art colleagues fifty years earlier with their avant-garde films. «If in the 1920s, visual artists became filmmakers, in the 1970s the circle closes: the filmmakers become visual artists. Highly praised by the critics, experimental film disappears into the ivory tower of art, far from the audience.»[16] Although


film's composition and its operation as a medium remain an issue in experimental film, its importance since the end of the 1970s has declined noticeably. Thus, between 1983 and 1989, using «found footage material,»[17] the group Schmelzdahin, which understands itself as a «film production collective,» impressively stage the materiality of film and at the same time its aesthetic process of dissolution. For this they use old sequences of Super-8 films, a technology that had long ago ceased to be a medium of everyday use; its typical area of application had already been replaced by the general use of home video. Here, film material is subjected to biochemical processes by burying it in the garden, storing it in a pond, or overheating it. The results of these natural processes of decay or aging are then copied back onto film and thus conserved in the state of their dissolution. In the 1984 film »Stadt in Flammen,» the scenes melt due to overheating, producing an infernal image impression of disappearance. «The images no longer show a figuratively represented scene, but rather its dissolution as a temporal process.»[18]

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