Tree* Movie

Jackson Mac Low

Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1922 - New York, USA, 2004
  • Date: 
    1961 (Second version. 1972: making of the video in Binghamton, New York. 1985: recording of sound in a performance at Bard College, New York. 2009: final realization by Ann Tardos)
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Media description: 
    Video (Hard disk drive and DVD), facsimile of the screenplay, catalogue of the Minimal Arts Festival (1985) and two posters
  • Duration: 
    210 min.
  • Colour: 
    Black and white
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
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Coming from a musical background, Jackson Mac Low was inspired by the pioneering static music of La Monte Young, particularly his Composition 1960#7, to conceive this work, which he wrote as a script for a FluxFilm. Considered the first script for a “static film”, the work showed peculiarities that occurred both in Mac Low’s compositions and his scores. The principal is the open score, consisting of instructions that anyone can read without having to know any specific language, whether musical or film. The score’s footnote turns it into a general plan: any object can be the subject of the film, the essential element being the static position of the camera. According to the artist George Maciunas, Andy Warhol’s Sleep plagiarises this piece, although this statement has been refuted by researchers like Bruce Jenkins, and by Mac Low himself. Whatever the case, the importance of this piece in the history of experimental cinema is indisputable. The intention was to implement the deskilling of artistic practice, thereby destroying any distinction between specialist and amateur, between artist and viewer, an idea central to the work of a large number of the neo-avant-gardists of Europe and the United States.

Cristina Cámara Bello