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| November 16, 2018

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New Display Tells The Story Of Experimental Film-making In Brighton & Hove

New Display Tells The Story Of Experimental Film-making In Brighton & Hove
Elin Arnar

Unknown to many, both Brighton and Hove have played a rich and important part in international film history.  Early film-making pioneers including George Albert Smith and James Williamson, who became known as the Brighton School and worked here at the turn of the 20th century, while Modern and contemporary filmmakers and moving image artists – like Jeff Keen, Ben Wheatley and Ben Rivers – have cemented the city’s status as a hotbed of experimental film and will the display cover it’s story from 1896 to the present day.

Experimental Motion: the art of film innovation will explore Brighton & Hove’s success as a place for experimental film-making, and its significance nationally and internationally.

 Suzie Plumb, Royal Pavilion & Museums (RPM)’s Curator of Film, Media and Toys, said: “Over the past 120 years this city has seen highly influential work produced by its filmmakers. These experimental films have moved the language of cinema and art forward internationally, yet the story is little known. Through looking at filmmaking techniques, such as editing, visual trickery and illusion, Experimental Motion will highlight the impact of these films on the development of the moving image.  We’ll exhibit objects from as long ago as 1896 from the city’s extensive Film & Media collections, alongside films by the Brighton School, work by Modern and contemporary filmmakers and objects and work by moving image artists.”

The display is part of RPM’s John Ellerman Foundation-funded project ‘Film Pioneers’, which aims to develop curatorial skills by enabling staff at the museum to research, display and document the city’s Film & Media collections. This includes the Experimental Motion display and a full review of the collection to further explore its international significance and how the museum might enhance its use, as well as ensuring that the collection is fully accessible to the public online. Another strand will enable skills-development and sharing for professionals working with film and media collections across the south east.

 Highlights of Experimental Motion include:

Rare objects from the history of film-making in Brighton & Hove, such as ground-breaking cameras made in the city.  These include an 1896 experimental cine camera, the world’s first amateur film camera from 1899, and a 1900 special effects cine camera for reverse motion and close-ups – all made by Alfred Darling & Sons of Brighton.  A camera for the world’s first commercially viable colour cine film process, developed by George Albert Smith of Hove and made by Moy & Bastie in 1910, will also be displayed, alongside diverse ephemera relating to the Brighton School and objects from the history of cinema.

Film by key avant-garde director Jeff Keen (1923-2012), who was based in Brighton and began to make an impact with Dada-influenced work in the 1950s.  His references included his experiences serving in World War II, popular culture and characters inspired by his family and friends, and he was an early proponent of montage, long shots and the use of multiple screens.  His film is also characterised by his innovative techniques of scratching, painting and superimposing differing sets of images, and his use of visual props.

More information here.

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