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Experimental Films by David Perry

Year: 2011, 171 mins
Code: KDDP-ExpPt1
ISBN: 978-1-922007-05-6

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David Perry is unique among Australian artists in that he is equally competent in making paintings, drawings, prints, posters, photographs, films and videotapes. In work encompassing more than half a century, he has demonstrated his proficiency in these media, with his art exhibited in international film and video festivals and leading art galleries. To some extent, this versatility has counted against him, since he has been unclassifiable, a hybrid for which there is no name, other than multimedia artist, though this has come to mean someone who combines mediums, which David rarely does. David's Mad Mesh (1968) is one of the first 'video-graphic' works in Australian art, and significant when compared to similar experiments, such as those by Nam June Paik. It came about when he was working in the ABC's Federal Engineering Lab, and observed the electronic mesh of a faulty television camera tube, which he deformed with magnetic interference and shot the resultant image off a television screen, using coloured filters. His video Interior with Views (1976) makes a connection with painting and art history. As he says, 'I have always been drawn to French painting because it honours the everyday, the egalitarian, without polemics'. He sees his low-tech black and-white video rendition of landscape as 'similar to the effect of soft charcoal on white paper'.

Part 1:  1964 - 1970
Swansong in Birdland (1964)
The Spurt of Blood (1965)
Poem 25 (1965)
Halftone (1966)
Puncture (1966)
Harbour (1967)
The tribulations of Mr DuPont Nomore (1967)
Mad Mesh (1968)
A Sketch on Abigayl's Belly (1968)
Album (1970)

Part 2:
Franments from the Past (1973
A TV Show (1975)
Interior with Views (1976)
My Dutch Newsreel (1985)
Letter to Russia (1990)
Dingbats (2002)

David's work across various formats illustrates the fluidity and pleasure with which many artists move between media in order to invent new aesthetic expression.  Like many moving image artists, he worked in other artforms, exploring painting and developing a technical understanding of photography as a printer.
With other experimental filmers, David faced a prevailing anti-art discourse and obsession with national narrative cinema. His very early film experiments on 8mm in the early 1950s stand out as among the first self-consciously artistic films in the nation.  However, he recalls, that was seen as a waste of time ... the only thing to do as a filmmaker was to make entertainment films which told stories in a most conventional way.
Along with critical exposure to the American avant-gardist Bruce Conner's work, David recalls the inspiration of films by the masters like D.W.Griffith, and of classic European art cinema he originally saw at the Sydney Film Society, such as Carl Theodor Dryer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928): The power and intensity of its images, and its editing, have never left me  David's persistent, pioneering exploration of original moving images recalls Pauline Kaeis famous reference to Dryerís cinema as art which 'begins to unfold just at the point where most directors give up'.

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