This originally appeared in a slightly different form as a "Reader Recommends" in the Chicago Reader, November 17, 2011. I added a sentence after I saw the program again on November 18, at the University of Chicago's Film Studies Center.
A Lens Brightly: Films of Gregory Markopoulos
The later work of Gregory Markopoulos, rarely-screened and unreleased on video, is one of cinema's prime glories,. A founder of American experimental film, he made work across five decades until his death in Europe in 1991. (Living in Chicago in 1966-67, he founded the filmmaking program at the School of the Art Institute.) Three short films on this program, two of places (Ming Green (1966) and Bliss (1967) and one (Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill (1967)) a portrait, are unsurpassedly sensuous yet strangely elusive; Markopoulos's intercutting and superimpositions of multiple images of a face or a locale suggest more than is shown. The centerpiece, the 86-minute silent Genius (1970), is here screened in the 1980s reedit in which it appears in his Eniaios III. Intermingling three portraits (two artists, including David Hockney, and an art dealer) with darkness and solid white, Markopoulos reveals human presences extending beyond the body: intercutting snippets as short as a single frame with the same images reversed and upside down seems to spread each figure into near-infinite space. Markopoulos named Faust legend as an inspiration, and his juxtapositions suggest a hidden drama, an almost alchemical mixing of souls. Brief sections of regular or even repeating rhythms frequently end unexpectedly, with for example a longer image of solid white, in ways that can be profoundly disruptive, making the film a kind of map of varieties of repetition and surprise, even order and chaos. c. 113 min.
The Temenos, devoted to the work of Gregory J. Markopoulos and Robert Beavers.