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Banner stills L to R: 1, 2, 3...Cinematographer's Exercise, Open Form – Game on an Actress's Face, and Market, all courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

Video A (Studio Situation) (Video A [Sytuacja studia])
Paweł Kwiek, Poland, 1974, digital file from VHS, 3 minutes 25 seconds


Still from Video A, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

In the 1970s, Paweł Kwiek (b. 1951) occupied an interesting position in Polish art as a member of the Workshop of the Film Form who was also affiliated with the Warsaw circle of artists gathered around his brother, Przemysław Kwiek, and Zofia Kulik, among others. There, he explored the potential of art for political and social engagement, creating such works as 1,2,3 . . . Cinematographer’s Exercise. He also developed a theory of objective documentary that replaced the author’s perspective with the freedom of the portrayed person or group to establish the mode of documentation or even carry it out themselves, leaving the filmmaker as merely an organiser of the framework of creative action. This theory was put into practice in the making of Kwiek’s film Niechcice (1973), which was shot together with the people of a far-off Polish village.

Video A, on the other hand, represents Kwiek’s practice within the WFF, which centred on innovative and analytical approaches to film as medium and media art more broadly. Critically embracing the technological advances that became available in Poland in the 1970s, Kwiek and other members of the WFF turned their attention to TV broadcasting, whose popularity expanded throughout the decade, marking the progress that Poland made under a new, declaratively more relaxed and open political regime. In 1974, during a live broadcast created by the WFF members on public television, Kwiek carried out his performance Studio Situation, in which he was shot by the cameramen in the studio according to his own instructions, switching among three cameras. Apart from conveying the impossibility of objective media representation and the inherent distortions that stem from the limitations of the technology itself, which was in line with WFF investigations, Kwiek focused here on the TV studio, which fascinated him as an “organism.” He also explored his interest in cybernetics, aiming to merge the human being and technology into a single circuit. Interestingly, the action resulted in yet another self-portrait of the artist, in which his practice abounds.

Though they approached it with fascination at first, the members of the WFF soon started to view the medium of television with distrust, perceiving it as a hierarchical and unidirectional propaganda tool (a critique that was also widely voiced by media artists and experimenters elsewhere in the world). They contrasted it with the newly emerging medium of video, which they regarded as far more democratic.  — Łukasz Mojsak

The organizers would like to thank Łukasz Mojsak and the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, for their help in making a screening of this film possible in Washington.

The Space Transmission (Transmisja przestrzenna)
Wojciech Bruszewski, Poland, 1974, VHS transfer to digital file, 1 minute 8 seconds


Still from The Space Transmission, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

Driven by his underlying understanding of the duality of the concept of reality, embracing both its material aspect and the mental representations that each person has of that materiality, Wojciech Bruszewski (1947–2009) instigated situations that explored the complex relations between human perception, perceived reality, and its film or video representation. His far-reaching experimental practice, based on exploring the potential of media devices to shake the mind out of the culturally imposed frames of perception, entered full swing in the 1970s in the circle of the Workshop of the Film Form at the Film School in Łódź, of which Bruszewski was a prominent member, and continued for decades until his death in 2009.

The action Space Transmission was carried out in 1974 in a studio belonging to Polish Television during a special live broadcast devoted to the activity of young cinematic rebels from the WFF, including Paweł Kwiek and his action Studio Situation (also screened as part of this program). During his portion of the broadcast, Bruszewski rode a bicycle within the field of vision of three cameras, thus initiating a complex circuit of movement and vision to demonstrate his theories about spatial transmission. As Bruszewski explains in the commentary to his film: “In 1974, I was thinking of making a spatial film; I wanted to make the film structure close to the chaotic structure of life. . . . Film as a linear structure seemed to be too scanty and too abstract to express the extraordinary labyrinth. I thought a continuous, non-manipulated, multi-transmission to be a response to this need of the human mind.”  — Łukasz Mojsak

The organizers would like to thank Małgorzata Bruszewska and and Łukasz Mojsak, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, for their help in making a screening of this film possible in Washington.

30 Sound Situations (30 sytuacji dźwiękowych)
Ryszard Waśko, Poland, 1975, 35 mm transfer to digital file, 9 minutes 28 seconds


Stills from 30 Sound Situations, courtesy Filmoteka Muzeum

Educated at the Film School in Łódź, Ryszard Waśko (b. 1947) was one of the founders and core members of the Workshop of the Film Form. Sharing the group’s focus on analytical approaches to film, pursuit of purging and redefining film language, and interest in the crossroads of human perception and technology, Waśko has developed his avenue of outstanding experimental deconstruction within a varied practice embracing film, photography, and spatial installations, among others.

In 30 Sound Situations, Waśko tapped into the analytical potential of the medium of film to map acoustic properties of a range of environments, as well as analyze the contrasts between the visual layer and the aural space the artist generated by the artist during his acoustic performances. Appearing in various places, such as a backyard, a park, an interior hallway, a busy street, and so on, and standing at different distances from the camera, Waśko claps two pieces of wood against each other, producing sounds that—when contrasted with the ones made elsewhere earlier—highlight the particular acoustic properties of every given space.  — Łukasz Mojsak

The organizers would like to thank Galerie Zak Branicka, Berlin, and Łukasz Mojsak, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, for their help in making a screening of this film possible in Washington.