The Unseen Seen: When film reels aren’t preserved perfectly, it makes them all the more interesting to photograph
Courtesy of Reiner Riedler35 mm Positive Print of "Ginger und Fred" (orig. Ginger e Fred), 1985, Dir. Federico Fellini, act 1 of 7
When photographer Reiner Riedler began shooting film reels and negatives, he veered away from capturing the content of movies, focusing his lens instead on the stories the reels themselves told. His creative playground, Berlin’s Deutsche Kinemathek film archive, housed hundreds of thousands of films spanning decades. When travel and archiving failed to preserve the reels perfectly, it was good news for Riedler. Rips, scratches and imperfections made the reels all the more interesting to photograph. His travelling exhibition, The Unseen Seen, opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week as part of the 2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. The Post’s Teddy Wilson spoke with Riedler from Vienna about his magnum opus exhibition.
當攝影師 Reiner Riedler 開始拍攝電影膠卷與電影底片時，他的焦點不在電影內容上而是轉移到電影膠卷本身的故事。數十年累積下來擁有上千萬部電影的德國柏林電影資料館（Deutsche Kinemathek）是他的創意園區。那些到各處去放片或因保存不當而劣化的電影片，對Riedler來說都是最好的材料。撕裂，刮傷或者各種讓電影底片不盡完美的狀況都可以在攝影作品之下變得更有趣。他今年的巡迴展覽「看見看不見的」（The Unseen Seen），首展於本週加拿大多倫多國際影展，Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival的其中一個節目。本篇作者Teddy Wilson在維也納與Riedler訪談關於他的代表作品。(此篇僅作為參考翻譯，若翻譯有誤煩請提醒。譯/岑竹)
Q How did the idea come about for The Unseen Seen, to photograph film reels?
A The idea originally came from a friend who works in the archive at the Deutsche Kinemathek. We went to the same university, and he always told be about his archives. One day I was curious, maybe it is interesting to have a look at the boxes of film reels. They have many stories to tell because they have a long history, they travel a lot. You can see from the outside how long their journey was.
Q How did you start photographing them?
A I went to a film museum in Vienna, and rented one movie that had a nick and I brought it to my studio. I was just curious, I had never touched a movie reel. I opened it and took it against a light. There was this special moment when I saw that it was transparent. You have the size of an LP, and you turn it around and then there are these patterns and I was really surprised. In this moment I knew there was something to do. I contacted my friend in Berlin from the Deutsche Kinemathek and asked if we could start something together. I got permission to make a film list and to go to the archives and have a look at all the movies. They have hundreds of thousands. I started with very simple movies that I saw in my childhood, like Bambi and King Kong. It was a very exciting journey, and it’s not finished.
我從維也納的一間電影資料館租了一部電影片帶回我的工作室， 但是這部片有一個裂痕。我從來沒有碰過電影膠卷，我是因為好奇租的。我打開它朝向亮光看著，當我看到它的透明度時候，一瞬間有很奇妙的感覺。它的大小跟黑膠唱片差不多，但是你側面看時它所擁有的這些圖案讓我好驚訝。那個時候，我就知道可以做什麼事情了。我與那位在Deutsche Kinemathek工作的朋友聯繫，我問我們可否一起進行這個計畫。我因此得到資料館的許可，進到裡面看所有的電影片然後列出我要的清單。他們有上千萬部的電影片。我從我小時候看的一些電影片開始，比如《小鹿斑比》和《金剛》。那是個讓人興奮的探訪，至今都還沒有結束。
Courtesy of Reiner Riedler 35 mm Positive
Print of "Der Blaue Engel" (The Blue Angel), 1930, Dir. Josef von Sternberg, act 5 of 5
A We just know movies by their projected image, we never see the material. I wanted to have a look at the material that transports the image. I wanted to confront the photographs of [the reels], which are titled the title of the movie, and to confront that with the images in our head and in our memory [of the film]. I wanted to see what happens to an audience if you go to a space and you see pictures, titles, and bring your own memory. This was the experiment.
Q How did you then develop a technique to photograph them?
A At the very beginning I had to do some experiments. I had to backlight the movies. Now I use a ring-flash, and it is always wide light, so I don’t need to change the colour of the light. I tried to keep the same methods for all the movies, to [better] see the difference [between films] at the end. Also important, I always use the first act. Many of the movies have three, four five, up to 13 rolls, and I just decided to do the first acts. Sometimes I shoot all the acts, like The Three Colors trilogy. [For] Three Colors: Blue, I took all of them because it was amazing, the only [film reel] that was blue. It is the analogies between the colours, the patterns, and the titles that were interesting for me as a photographer.
Q How did you approach photographing film reels versus photographing portraits or landscapes?
A I did documentary photography before. I think I just needed to change because I was really bored with documentary photography. I had been doing it for 20 years, and I had the feeling that there is nothing more to discover. What is always connected with my work is a journey. I always do journeys into worlds which are for me, undiscovered. The journey into the archives for me was a big adventure, how to look at these film reels. And I found out I was the first who did that. Every film reel is a discovery, it is a nostalgic travel to my past, to my first cinema experience, and of course I learned a lot about filmmaking.
Courtesy of Reiner RiedlerCitizen Cane