Labor of Love

By Sitney, P. Adams | Artforum International, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Labor of Love


Sitney, P. Adams, Artforum International


Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile

Varying hi subjects as the eye doth roll To every varied object in his glance ...

--William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost

JEROME HILER belongs to that rare company of significant if almost invisible filmmakers of the American avant-garde cinema who have hidden their light under a bushel: For decades, Joseph Cornell was reluctant to show his films; Gregory J. Markopoulos withdrew his work from circulation for the last three decades of his life; Wallace Berman would not exhibit his sublime Aleph, which became available only after his death; Dean Stockwell still does not permit screenings of the films he has made. The very few people who have managed to see any of the handful of works Hiler has filmed over the past forty-eight years have praised his cinema highly--most of all Nathaniel Dorsky, who has been Hiler's partner all those years. Filmmakers David Brooks and Warren Sonbert not only admired his work but evidently learned much from it. Critics Wheeler Dixon (also a filmmaker) and Scott MacDonald have briefly discussed him in their books.51" Finally, in 1997, Hiler let the New York Film Festival show the camera original of his then recently finished ten-minute short Gladly Given, and last year he screened a new work, again at the New York Film Festival. That film, Words of Mercury, which he completed just in time for the festival, will be included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, which opens this month, and a program of his and Dorsky's recent works will be presented at Lincoln Center's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on March 15.

Hiler, a New York-born autodidact, at various times worked for a music copyist, assisted the society photographer Frederick Eberstadt (who commissioned his 2001 film Target Rock), and projected films at die Film-Makers' Cinematheque--all when he was living in New York and on Lake Owassa in New Jersey; in Hollywood, he and Dorsky worked on the exploitation film Revenge of the Cheerleaders (a cult classic from 1976); and ever since, he has lived in San Francisco, working lived in San Francisco, working as a carpenter, a caretaker of a convent, and a stainedglass maker; he recently directed, with Owsley Brown III, the documentary Music Makes a City (2010).

The latter project reflects Hiler's obsessive passion for obscure domains of music--in this case, the impressive international roster of composers commissioned to write works for the Louisville Orchestra in the 1950s. Even as a teenager, he boasted an encyclopedic knowledge of medieval and Renaissance music; later, he devoted years to the study of French composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Similarly, he is a scholar of stained glass, and he has lectured widely on it as the "cinema before 1300."

The structural principle of Words of Mercury reflects that of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century Notre Dame composers Leonin and Perotin, who alternated Latin verses sung in complex polyphony with verses in plain-chant. Their polyphony highlighted the melodic purity of the plainchant, while the monophonic lines made the multiple voices sound all the richer. In a similar way, especially in the opening half of this twenty-five-minute film, Hiler interlards lengthy superimpositions with one or two shorter shots in a rhythm of alternating poly-optic and monoptic phrases. The superimpositions almost always employ camera movement, and the monoptic shots are typically static. The effect parallels that of Notre Dame polyphony: Following the elaborate superimpositions, the still shots acquire a stressed intensity, giving a distilled concentration to the unobscured movement of reeds in the wind, the flight of birds, or the frolicking of dogs in the ocean. That, in turn, sensitizes the eye to the intricacy and wonder of the next set of superimpositions. The turning point of the film is a monoptic panning movement around a bronze-colored statue of Neptune, incongruously abandoned just out-side the fence of a truck lot. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Labor of Love
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.