“Joseph Plateau had no shit in his eyes, take it out of yours”. In 1843, Joseph Plateau, Belgian physicist and mathematician, renowned for his research on retinal persistence who focused on the sun for 25 seconds and became sightless in the love of science. Nel 1971 Roland Lethem, Belgian experimental cineast and provocateur positions his camera in front of a fenastiscope, the celebrated disk invented by Plateau in 1831, one of the precursors to what would eventually become the cinematographic apparatus.
The result: Le Vampire de la Cinémathèque, an hypnotic film, rhythmical and irritating, where a girl’s luminous face transforms infinitely into that of a witch/vampire and vice versa. Beyond the provocation, with this film Lethem adds the state of pure contemplation and puts into effect a form of homage to cinema through cinema itself. Film limité, Le Vampire de la Cinémathèque is Lethem’s masterpiece, credited as the discovery of experimental cinema on the occasion of the EXPRMNTL festival in Knokke-le-Zoute – which, incidentally, in a Belgian casino on the Litorale, applauded the then unknown Yoko Ono, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Henri Chopin or Musica Elettronica Viva…
(Xavier García Bardón)