1981-1990ExperimentalPaul SharitsShort FilmUSA

Paul Sharits – Bad Burns (1982)

16mm, color, silent, 6 minutes, print from Anthology Film Archives Preserved by Anthology Film Archives

“Film is a fragile medium, and some artists push its fragility to the breaking point. Paul Sharits (1943–93) was a pusher.‘I think of [film] as a sort of a primitive, vulnerable medium,’ said Sharits. ‘I know it’s going to disappear, and I almost look upon it with a certain empathy.’ He moved his films out of the theater and into the gallery, creating multiscreen environments that exploited the qualities that made film different from the other visual arts. The projectors, with their clatter and flickering light, became protagonists, and the strips of celluloid, agents of ephemeral beauty.

“Sharits explores these dynamics in the three-screen installation 3rd Degree(1982). The work grew from a close-up of a burning match waved threateningly across a woman’s face; the action escalates into the burning of the film itself. Sharits rephotographed the resulting footage and photographed it again. He then projected all three generations, each on its own loop, side by side. Wrote Sharits, ‘The film is “about” the fragility of the film medium and human vulnerability. Both the filmic and the human images resist threat/intimidation/mutilation: The victim is defiant and the film strip also struggles on, both “under fire.”

“Bad Burns developed from the outtakes. Sharits explained that the second-generation film ‘was loaded in camera improperly, …creating some rather amusing and mysterious imagery.’ While most filmmakers might discard such material, Sharits delighted in the creation, calling the new work ‘a made “found” object.’ In the chance happening of his mis-take, he found something beautiful.”


163MB | 5 min 37 s | 710×532 | mkv


Language(s):No audio track
Subtitles:not needed

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