Structural film was an avant-garde experimental film movement prominent in the United States in the 1960s and which developed into the Structural/materialist films in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
The term was coined by P. Adams Sitney who noted that film artists had moved away from the complex and condensed forms of cinema practiced by such artists as Sidney Peterson and Stan Brakhage. "Structural film" artists pursued instead a more simplified, sometimes even predetermined art. The shape of the film was crucial, the content peripheral. This term should not be confused with the literary and philosophical term structuralism .
Sitney identified four formal characteristics common in Structural films, but all four characteristics are not usually present in any single film:
It has been noted by George Maciunas that these characteristics are also present in Fluxus films.
Serene Velocity is a 1970 American experimental short film directed by Ernie Gehr. Gehr filmed it in the basement hallway of a Binghamton University academic building, using a static camera position and changing only the focal length of the camera. It is recognized as a key work of structural filmmaking and has been inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry.
Fluxus was an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. Fluxus is known for experimental contributions to different artistic media and disciplines and for generating new art forms. These art forms include intermedia, a term coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins; conceptual art, first developed by Henry Flynt, an artist contentiously associated with Fluxus; and video art, first pioneered by Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell. Dutch gallerist and art critic Harry Ruhé describes Fluxus as "the most radical and experimental art movement of the sixties".
Anthony Schmalz Conrad was an American video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician, composer, sound artist, teacher, and writer. Active in a variety of media since the early 1960s, he was a pioneer of both drone music and structural film. As a musician, he was an important figure in the New York minimalist scene of the early 1960s, during which time he performed as part of the Theatre of Eternal Music. He became recognized as a filmmaker for his 1966 film The Flicker. He performed and collaborated with a wide range of artists over the course of his career.
An underground film is a film that is out of the mainstream either in its style, genre or financing.
George Maciunas was a Lithuanian American artist, born in Kaunas. A founding member and the central coordinator of Fluxus, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers, he is most famous for organising and performing early happenings and for assembling a series of highly influential artists' multiples.
Experimental film or avant-garde cinema is a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms or alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of working. Many experimental films, particularly early ones, relate to arts in other disciplines: painting, dance, literature and poetry, or arise from research and development of new technical resources.
George Brecht, born George Ellis MacDiarmid, was an American conceptual artist and avant-garde composer, as well as a professional chemist who worked as a consultant for companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Mobil Oil. He was a key member of, and influence on, Fluxus, the international group of avant-garde artists centred on George Maciunas, having been involved with the group from the first performances in Wiesbaden 1962 until Maciunas' death in 1978.
Nostalgia, styled (nostalgia), is a 1971 American experimental film by artist Hollis Frampton. It is part of his Hapax Legomena series.
Paracinema is an academic term to refer to a wide variety of film genres out of the mainstream, bearing the same relationship to 'legitimate' film as paraliterature like comic books and pulp fiction bears to literature.
Anthology Film Archives is an international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video, with a particular focus on independent, experimental, and avant-garde cinema. The film archive and theater is located at 32 Second Avenue on the southeast corner of East 2nd Street, in a New York City historic district in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan.
Hollis William Frampton, Jr. was an American avant-garde filmmaker, photographer, writer, theoretician, and pioneer of digital art. He was best known for his innovative and non-linear structural films that defined the movement, including Lemon (1969), Zorns Lemma (1970), and Hapax Legomena (1971–1972), as well as his anthology book, Circles of Confusion: Film, Photography, Video: Texts, 1968–1980 (1983).
Paul Jeffrey Sharits was a visual artist, best known for his work in experimental, or avant-garde filmmaking, particularly what became known as the structural film movement, along with other artists such as Tony Conrad, Hollis Frampton, and Michael Snow.
Wavelength is a 1967 Canadian short subject by experimental filmmaker and artist Michael Snow. Considered a landmark of avant-garde cinema, it was filmed over one week in December 1966 and edited in 1967, and is an example of what film theorist P. Adams Sitney describes as "structural film", calling Snow "the dean of structural filmmakers."
The Flicker is a 1966 American experimental film by Tony Conrad. The film consists of only 5 different frames: a warning frame, two title frames, a black frame, and a white frame. It changes the rate at which it switches between black and white frames to produce stroboscopic effects.
Zorns Lemma is a 1970 American structural experimental film by Hollis Frampton. Originally starting as a series of photographs, the non-narrative film is structured around a 24-letter classical Latin alphabet. It remains, along with Michael Snow's Wavelength and Tony Conrad's The Flicker, one of the best known examples of structural filmmaking.
Joe Jones was an American avant-garde musician associated with Fluxus especially known for his creation of rhythmic music machines.
Hapax Legomena is a seven-part film cycle by American experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton.
The Millennium Film Workshop is a non-profit media arts center located in New York City. It is dedicated to the exhibition, study, and practice of avant-garde and experimental cinema. It was also where the St. Mark's Poetry Project began. Ken Jacobs stated in 2013 that he chose the name Millennium "...because it would have to be that to actually give out equipment, education, space to work in, etc. for free. Dictionary definition: 'A hoped for period of joy, serenity, prosperity and justice.' "
Arnulf Rainer is a 1960 Austrian experimental short film by Peter Kubelka, and one of the earliest flicker films. The film alternates between light or the absence of light and sound or the absence of sound. Since its May 1960 premiere in Vienna, Arnulf Rainer has become known as a fundamental work for structural film. Kubelka released a "negative" version, titled Antiphon, in 2012.
Minimalist cinema is related to the art and philosophy of minimalism.