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Black Film Series

“The absence of images, the black screen in the first minutes of Isou’s Traité de Bave et d’Éternité (or in Howls for Sade, a film containing no images whatsoever Isou ideated with Guy Debord and was later realized by the author of The Society of Spectacle in 1952), in many of Brakhage’s films (Dog Star Man, for instance, or Reflections on Black), and in Aldo Tambellini’s Black Films (Black Is [1965], Black Trip 1 [1965], Black Trip 2 [1967], Blackout [1965]), is of a special significance. The absence of images, or the black screen, expresses disbelief for the association of images – while all associations are possible –; it is a space dedicated to imagination. Tambellini’s Black Films (1965-7) are non-photographic too. In these films, Tambellini used clear leader, which he used as a scroll, turning a blind eye to the frames. He applied a mixture of chemicals - paint, ink and stencils (sometimes using found objects, such as computer cards) - as well as slicing and scraping the celluloid directly. The Black Films are concerned, as John Cage’s conception of silence, Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings, or Takahiko Iimura’s films Ma:Intervals (1977), with notions of time as a colourless intersection, void and nothingness. (Henri Bergson: “I cannot get rid of the idea that the full is an embroidery on the canvas of the void, that being is superimposed on nothing, and that in the idea of «nothing» there is less than that of «something». Hence all the mystery.” [Creative Evolution, 1944]).
Donal Foreman, Experimental Film Club Blog experimentalfilmclub.blogspot.com

BLACK IS (1965) – To the sound of a heartbeat and made entirely without the use of a camera, this film projects abstract forms and illuminations on a night-black background and suggests as Tambellini says, “seed black, seed black, sperm black, sperm black.” Grove Press Film Catalog

BLACK TRIP (1965) – Through the uses of kinescope, video, multimedia, and direct painting on film, an impression is gained of the frantic action of protoplasm under a microscope where an imaginative viewer may see the genesis of it all. – Grove Press Film Catalog

BLACK TRIP 2 (1967) - “An internal probing of the violence and mystery of the American psyche seen through the eye of a black man and the Russian revolution.”– A.T.

BLACK PLUS X (1966) - Tambellini here focuses on contemporary life in a black community. The extra, the “X” of Black Plus X, is a filmic device by which a black person is instantaneously turned white by the mere projection of the negative image. The time is summer, and the place is an oceanside amusement park where black children are playing in the surf and enjoying the rides, quite oblivious to Tambellini’s tongue-in-cheek “solution” to the race problem. – Grove Press Film Catalog

BLACKOUT (1965) “This film, like an action painting by Franz Kline, is a rising crescendo of abstract images. Rapid cuts of white forms on a black background supplemented by an equally abstract soundtrack give the impression of a bombardment in celestial space or on a battlefield where cannons fire on an unseen enemy in the night.” Grove Press Film Catalog

“BLACK IS flashes an inexhaustible variety of painted images onto the screen to dazzling optical effect.”
Douglas Davis in “How Underground Films See the Light As A New Art Film,” National Observer

“Abstract and arresting”           
William Pepper of the World-Telegram & Sun, New York

“A dazzling succession of black-on-white splotches, dots, ziz-zags and starbursts
painted directly on film.”
Dan Sullivan - New York Times

“His dynamic Black Film Series (1965-69) extends from total abstraction to footage of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and black teenagers in Coney Island. Tambellini worked directly on the film strip with chemicals, paint and ink, scratching, scraping, and inter-cutting material from industrial films, newsreels and TV. Abrasive, provocative and turbulent, the series is a rapid-fire response to the beginning of the information age and a world in flux.”
Mark Webber, Film Curator, England on Aldo Tambellini’s Retrospective, Leeds, England, 2007