Ernie Gehr’s new work

Still from Ernie Gehr’s Photographic Phantoms, 2013, digital video, color, sound, 27 minutes.

ONE OF THE LEADING FIGURES of American avant-garde cinema since the late 1960s, Ernie Gehr has consistently explored the spatial, temporal, and granular qualities of film, upending laws of gravity and confounding optical givens, without repudiating real-world material. His most recent engagement with digital technology—represented by the five elegant works screened last fall in the New York Film Festival’s “Views from the Avant-Garde” program—constitutes a new high in a long and distinguished career. As inventive as they are formally rigorous, the videos exploit different potentials of the new technology. But seen together, in the order shown at “Views” and preferred by Gehr, they celebrate the achievements of photographic and cinematic image-making from the late nineteenth century to the present, forming an arc, of sorts, between early photography and pure digital

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