Sight Seeing

Sight Seeing: Films About Places
by Bill Brown

I tell myself that there are worse things than a tourist industry. It’s pretty green as industries go, and it usually encourages places to preserve their architecture and to promote their local color. Places with tourists aren’t likely to have nuclear waste dumps or asbestos mines. But it’s still an industry. It’s in the business of selling things at a profit, which in the tourist trade is the difference between what the tourist hopes for and what they actually get. A profit margin that depends on a certain amount of disappointment: the arbitrage between the Hollywood version of the place you’re visiting and the place itself.
Dream Whip Zine

To speak of ‘producing space’ sounds bizarre, so great is the sway still held by the idea that empty space is prior to whatever ends up filling it. Questions immediately arise here: what spaces? And what does it mean to speak of ‘producing space’?
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (1974)

Space, like the things in it, is produced. This syllabus considers a variety of experimental films tethered, more or less, to the American avant-garde, that explore the idea and actively engage in the production of space. Henri Lefebvre’s 1974 masterwork The Production of Space will be our guidebook as we wander through uncharted territories, unexplored continents, forbidden strip malls, abandoned missile silos, Utah, Las Vegas, and beyond. 


The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre
The Garden In The Machine, Scott MacDonald
Experimental Filmmaking: Break The Machine, Kathryn Ramey
City of Quartz, Mike Davis
The Death and Life of  Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
Learning from Las Vegas, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steve Izenour


Bill Brown (BB)
Light Cone (LC)
Canyon Cinema (CC)
Lux (LUX)
Film-Makers’ Coop (FC)
Electronic Art Intermix (EAI)
Duke Lilly Library (LL)
Video Data Bank (VDB)

People’s Park – J.P. Sniadecki  (2012, 78 min., LL) 
Yumen – J.P. Sniadecki (2013, 65 min., LL) 
China Town – Lucy Raven (2009, 51 min., BB)

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles – Chantal Akerman (1976, 201 min., LL)

Deseret – James Benning (1995, 82 min., LL)
Spiral Jetty – Robert Smithson (1970, 35 min., digital file, EAI)
Casting A Glance – James Benning (2007, 80 min., LL) 

Los Angeles Plays Itself – Thom Andersen (2003, 169 min., LL) 
Pasadena Freeway Stills – Gary Beydler  (1974, 6 min., 16mm, CC)
Get Out Of The Car – Thom Andersen (2010, 34 min., 16mm, LUX)
Can’t Swallow It, Can’t Spit It Out – Stanya Kahn, Harry Dodge (2006, 26 min., LL) 
Port Noir – Laura Kraning (2014, 11 min.)
Olivia’s Place – Thom Andersen (1966, 6 min., 16mm LUX)
Non-Stop Beautiful Ladies – Alee Peoples (2014, 9 min., 16mm, LL) 
Water and Power – Pat O’Neill (1989, 57 min., LL) 
Suite California Stops & Passes Part 1: Tijuana to Hollywood via Death Valley – Robert Nelson (1976, 46 min., 16mm, CC)

The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough – Peter Rose (1981, 32 min., 16mm, CC)
No-Zone – Greta Snider (1993, 19 min., BB)
4 Vertigo – Les LeVeque (2000, 9 min., digital file, VDB)
Castro Street – Bruce Baillie (1966, 10 min., 16mm, CC)
Market Street – Tomonari Nishikawa (2005, 5 min., BB)
In The Course Of Human Events – Dominic Angerame (1997, 23 min., 16mm, CC)
Side/Walk/Shuttle – Ernie Gehr (1991, 41 min., 16mm, CC)

Queen of Diamonds – Nina Menkes (1991, 77 min., LL)  DVD 28630

Pine Flat – Sharon Lockhart (2006, 135 min.) 
California Company Town – Lee Anne Schmitt (2012, 75 min. Vimeo)

An Injury To One – Travis Wilkerson (2002, 53 min., LL) 

I Have Always Been A Dreamer – Sabine Gruffat (2012, 78 min., LL)

In Order Not To Be Here – Deborah Stratman (2002, 33 min.)
Figures In The Landscape – Thomas Comerford (2002, 12 min.)

Highway Landscape – JJ Murphy (1972, 6 min., 16mm, CC)
Sky Blue Water Light Sign – JJ Murphy (1972, 8 min., 16mm, CC)
50 Feet Of String – Leighton Pierce (1995, 53 min., 16mm, CC)
You Can Drive the Big Rigs – Leighton Pierce (1989, 15 min., 16mm, CC)

New York Portrait: Chapter I – Peter Hutton (1979, 16 min., 16mm, CC)
New York Portrait: Chapter II – Peter Hutton (1981, 16 min., 16mm, CC)
New York Portrait: Chapter III – Peter Hutton (1990, 15 min., 16mm, CC)
Bridges Go Round – Shirley Clark (1958, 4 min., 16mm, CC)
Lost Book Found – Jem Cohen (1996, 35 min., digital file, VDB)
Zorns Lemma – Hollis Frampton (1970, 60 min., 16mm, FC)
Broad Channel – Sarah Christman (2010, 14 min., 16mm) 

The Girl Chewing Gum – John Smith (1976, 10 min., LL) DVD 25454
The Black Tower – John Smith (1987, 24 min., LL)
Return Of The Black Tower – Jennet Thomas (2007, 15 min., BB)
Robinson In Space – Patrick Keiller (1997, 85 min., BB)

Drive Thru – Gretchen Skogerson (2006, 20 min.)
Stripmall Trilogy – Roger Beebe (2001, 9 min., BB)
Dusty Stacks of Mom – Jodie Mack (2013, 41 min., BB)

The Island of St. Matthews – Kevin Everson (2013, 70 min.) 

There There Square – Jackie Goss (2002, 14 min., BB)
The Sky On Location – Babette Mangolte (1982, 78 min., 16mm, FC)
Roswell – Bill Brown (1995, 20 min., 16mm, BB)
North On Evers – James Benning (1992, 87 min., 16mm, CC)

Rue Des Teinturiers – Rose Lowder (1979, 31min., 16mm, FC)
I Began To Wish… – Julie Murray (2003, 5 min., 16mm, LC)
The Garden of Earthly Delights – Stan Brakhage (1981, 3 min., 16mm, CC)
Zone Blanche – Gaëlle Cintré (2014, 21 min., BB)
Swamp – Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson (1971, 6 min., digital file, EAI)
Observando el Cielo – Jeanne Liotta (2007, 19 min., 16mm, LC)