Happy 2018! I'm pleased to report my work has been featured on several year-end "best of" lists: Palmerston Blvd. was included by Michael Sicinski in his list of the twenty-five best avant-garde films of 2017, and was also listed onDesistfilm's 2017 film round up by José Sarmiento Hinjosa and Aaron Cutler.Toronto Film Review's best of 2017 also included Palmerston Blvd. on lists by Clint Enns and Claudia Sicondolfo, and Generation was included on Stephen Broomer's list. I contributed my own lists of favourite works from last year to both these sites, focusing on international work for Desistfilm and Canadian work for Toronto Film Review. I hope you will get a chance to check out the excellent range of works noted by a wide range of contributors on both these sites!
"Palmerston Blvd. is so neatly conceived, I wondered if the viewing experience might seem redundant, or if the concept might not be able to sustain the relatively long run time. In fact, it was the highlight of the fourth and final shorts program, 'As Above, So Below.' Working within tight formal restraints, including silence, Browne was forced to focus his creative attention on the limited set of tools at his disposal and constantly reinvent familiar images. I especially like a shot four minutes in, when he finds a new composition from a slightly lower, slightly skewed angle that turns the window frames into a kind of cubist collage. Gradually, other signs of life appear – first the family cat, and then split-second glimpses of Browne and his partner, and then finally, near the midpoint of the film, an infant swing and high chair. Seven years ago at Wavelengths, I found myself crying unexpectedly during a screening of John Price’s Home Movie, a 35mm, hand-processed study of his growing children. I explained afterward to a friend that Home Movie expressed a particular sensation I’d experienced daily during the five months since my first child was born. I called it a “nostalgia for the present” – a constant, conscious realisation that this moment is already gone and that someday, maybe soon, maybe in the distant future, I would desire deeply to return and reexperience it. I already felt the ache. Palmerston Blvd. has the same effect. When winter snows arrive and the halcyon light falls lower in the sky, the room becomes every warm room, with the sounds of a hissing radiator or the smell of a furnace. And when, at the end, the signs of Browne’s life are removed one by one – the toys and then the plants and then the table and chairs – it provokes a deep-in-the-bones feeling of loss, not only for a particular home (that universal, melancholy experience of locking a door for the last time) but also for a particular domesticity, for a particular light."
"...Palmerston Blvd. is not, in fact, its shots and even the most of their sum. The eye of the camera here is not the eye of those who want to monitor the movements and changes, of what records these shifts and changes... The camera proves to be the tool that expands man, his third eye, which does not see what we do not see, like binoculars, but that implements what we cannot: full delivery to the cinema...."
In other news, I will be doing another live performance, with Nelson Moneo (violin), Meghan Cheng (violin), Laila Zakzook (viola), Cheryl O (cello), Bill McBirnie (flute), and Eugene Martynec (electronics and keys), at Gallery 8-11, on Saturday December 16th, 2:30pm. This concert will feature the Canadian premiere of NYC composer (and youngest-ever Pulitzer Prize winner) Caroline Shaw’s Ritornello 2.sq.
This month I also published an essay, "Cinema for the Inner Eye: On the films of Paul Clipson," for San Francisco Cinematheque's blog. I was surprised to recently discover there has been no sustained critical assessment of Clipson's films, despite the fact that he has made over fifty in the past decade, some of which I consider to be among the finest poetic cinema of recent years. I tried to fill this gap (thanks to a generous invite from Steve Polta), and while this short essay is by no means exhaustive of Clipson's oeuvre, I hope it goes some distance towards explaining what I feel is significant in his work, and provides a point of entry for new viewers. You can look at some of his films on Vimeo.
2017 has been a strong year for me and there were many highlights: making the Images Festival's 30th anniversary trailer, 40+ screenings and performances, including my first international solo retrospective and first time at Wavelengths (on the 50th anniversary of its namesake – a film also about a window, whose maker was in the audience), video installations in three cities running for a total of six months, several chapters accepted for forthcoming publications, and a lot of great feedback. See you in 2018.
This month I will be performing live at Luminous Gestures 2.0, an evening of composed and improvised new music inspired by light with Bill McBirnie (flute), David Story (percussion & piano), Bill Gilliam (piano), Cheryl O (cello), and Eugene Martynec (electoacoustics).
The event is Sunday November 19th, 8pm at Array Space (155 Walnut Ave., Toronto). Tickets are $15.
Excerpt from when stars collide (2017), paired with music by Bill McBirnie and David Story.
Michael Sicinski writes on MUBI, "Simple in concept but flawless in execution, Palmerston Blvd. is the story of a single year in the life of a family apartment, presented as a 14-minute temporal condensation. Although Browne is committed to an experimental vision, the power of this film derives from his classical approach. Much of Palmerston is framed in a wide angle that absorbs the main picture window and dining area, offered up like a proscenium. It’s here that we can discern the changes that define Browne’s family life—the eventual absence of some, the signs of new presences, and of course the shifting of the seasons. Smaller details are also brought to the fore, mostly to display their specific play with the sunlight or their refractive character. Like a living Alice Neel canvas, the film gives us flowers in mason jars and changing leaves out the window on the corner. Palmerston Blvd. is a dynamic film, in large part because it maintains a tension between the pictorial and the narrative. It’s the story of a space, and like all spaces, it comes to an end."
Eli Hayes writes, "A simply stunning work of audiovisual and temporal exploration, a journey in time and light, space, day and night. Shadows dance across the screen in both smooth and jagged movements through static, nostalgic environments—the catalyst for a chopped up and fragmentary dreamscape of memory, sitting adjacent, in the portal of parallels, just on the other side of reality."
I am also excited to announce Palmerston Blvd. will be presented at Antimatter [Media Art] Festival in Victoria, BC, this October. This year's edition is their twentieth anniversary -- congratulations to curators Deborah de Boer and Todd Eacrett for their hard work! In addition to being shown in the curated short film programming, Palmerston Blvd. will also be presented during the festival as a screen installation at The Ministry Of Casual Living that will be visible on the street. More details TBA soon.
The 2017 San Diego Underground Film Festival lineup has been announced, Generationscreens Friday August 25th in a programme with works by Sky Hopkina, Karissa Hahn, Josh Weissbach, Ryan Wicks, Jeremy Moss and more! The full selection of artists is outstanding, I wish I could be there in person!
For July and August, Confluence (2017) will be on continuous public display in the main floor lobby of Richmond-Adelaide Centre (130 Adelaide Street West, Toronto), consulting by Public Art Management.
^ Confluence (2017, 20 min); installation at Richmond-Adelaide Centre, 130 Adelaide St. W.
I've also been increasingly exhibiting my digital collages, with editions for private collections, including the ORION head office in Toronto, and an inclusion in the first issue of a zine called Winter. I'm slowly building towards a show and online print store, but in the meantime, I have an abundance of recent artists' proofs from my digital album -- if you are interested in acquiring one, please email me.
At the end of August, memento mori (2012) will be presented as part of 17 Days Video Series, Vol. 10, curated by Adriane Little. This series presents the work of seventeen artists continuously over a seventeen day cycle, and will be exhibited at The Bret Llewellyn Art Gallery at Alfred State College (Alfred, NY), from August 28th - September 19th, and Atrium Gallery at Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI), from November 6th 2017 to April 29th, 2018. I am very honoured to be included.
^ "For Paul Sharits", still image from memento mori (2012)
This month I finished a three-year long project, Palmerston Blvd., a work that is my most personal to date. Shooting with a DSLR and intervalometer, I recorded the changing conditions of the bay window in my apartment over the course of a year, producing a time-lapse of over 250,000 images. As a point of comparison, memento mori (2012), which incorporated the sum total of photographs I had taken at the time I made it, uses 128,000 images -- in other words, I took more photos of this window than the entirety of the rest of my work. Unbeknownst to me upon starting the project as a series of photo sketches (which were posted to Instagram from 2013 to 2015), what I ended up crafting a portrait of was the domestic conditions of my son's first year of life, and our eventual growth beyond this apartment into a new home. For those who have seen Poem (2015), this is a complimentary piece.
Palmerston Blvd. is one of Toronto's oldest residential streets, the houses built largely in the first decade of the twentieth century on grand scales that have since been subdivided into rental units. Between Bloor St. and College St., it features large stone gates, a massive canopy of trees, and cast-iron street lamps of an original design that was common to North America in the 1920s -- a feature stripped from almost every other street in Toronto. You can read more about the street here, and even see the window from which the film was made directly below the pedestrian crossing sign in the second picture. We moved into the apartment in December of 2012 and left in April of 2015.
I plan to write something with more extensive detail on this work in the near future, however for now I will just mention that it would not have been possible without the help of my partner, Kat. I also want to give special thanks and credit to filmmaker Andrew Kim, who acted as a camera assistant while I hosted him during his visit to Toronto for the Images Festival, helping me immensely by reloading the camera battery and memory card during the final continuous sequence that lasted for over a week.
Still images from Palmerston Blvd. (2017), 14 minutes, 4K digital, silent.
On April 8th and 9th, Cinema 25 in Manchester (UK) will be hosting a full retrospective of my film and video works, The Cinema of Dan Browne. This event is my first international solo show and I am honoured that it will take place over two nights and include all of my works to date. The first evening will cover my films from 2007-2011, plus some never before seen Super 8 rarities and the UK premiere of The Lost Cycle (2016). Day two will cover my digital work, including memento mori (2012) and a post-screening live interview via Skype. Special thanks to curator and host Christian Dymond.
On Saturday April 8th, I will be performing live DJ and VJ sets at Electric Circuits Festival in Kingston, ON, as well as taking part in a panel discussion on digital art in the afternoon at the Tett Center.
On Saturday April 8th, NOFEST in Milan, Italy, will also host the World Premiere of my new film, concrescence (2017). This is one of several new short films, with more to come soon.
Routes (2011) screens as part of "Focusing on the landscape," at Sessió Xcèntric, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, on April 20th. From the programme description by curator Albert Alcoz: "Exploring the representation of nature in the film medium serves to transfigure it. Speeding up its development in time, suspending its physical presence, distorting its configuration or revealing its interstices are cinematographic operations that expand perception of the landscape. Describing the immanence of the forest is the pretext for a selection of films that show the landscape not as a physical place, but as a series of cultural perceptions, based on a place."