37/78 Tree again
At the centre are takes which do not change – a tree in a field in Vermont, U.S.A. Since the film was shot over a period of fifty days, the single frame shots create a storm of pictures.
37/78 Tree again
In an interview with Hans Scheugl about the ideas and techniques behind some of his films, the film-maker Kurt Kren told the following anecdote, which sheds an interesting light on his work. For his film Tree again (1978), Kren used a highly sensitive infra-red color film, a type which usually has to be developed within a very short period of time. However, Kren who has always worked on a very small budget, only had a roll of film which was already five years past its expiry date and, as Kren says, "there was little likelihood of anything turning out on the film." But he still decided to take shots of a large and splendid tree surrounded by bushes and a stretch of pastureland over a period of several weeks, from summer to autumn - a series of individual pictures taken from the same camera position. As he says, "I didn´t have much hope - (I knew) it was a crazy thing to do." But Kren´s illogical hope and his unshakeable confidence in his material were rewarded. Tree again became one of Kren´s most beautiful works - although it is difficult to single out any individual work from a corpus of extraordinary density and variety which spans over thirty years and includes over 40 films. The tree, the field, the sky, in fact the entire picture radiates an unusual, almost eerie artistry, with its rapidly changing blue, green and reddish hues, sometimes brightly illuminated for the fraction of a second like the flash of lightening in a technicolor horror film. Or a sky of deep blue with clouds scudding across it, an airplane drawing condensation trails which fade away imperceptibly, the abrupt juxtaposition of sun and shadow and the strong, gusty movement of the wind amongst branches and leaves, as though an endless and destructive storm were at work. An apocalyptic picture, yet one that is full of a wonderful, quiet beauty - the changing of the sun, and the play of light, how autumn arrives in a matter of seconds and the leaves begin to fall, the shadows of grazing animals which appear and disappear in the blink of an eye.
Much has been written about the abstract, serial, musical, structural or mathematical nature of Kurt Kren´s films, their affinity to painting, poetry or twelve-tone music; but too much concentration on their structure and rhythm has eclipsed the films objectivisation, their almost documentary quality. The compact and artistic interweaving of the fragments of reality being expressed - which may be glimpses out of a window, paths, trees, walls, the changing of the seasons, faces or the human body in motion - as well as the way they are filmed, processed and arranged can often go unrecognized even if each film is seen several times. The methods used by Kren range from extreme multiple exposure, individual shots, time-lapse, the use of filters and masks, alternating between positive and negative film, blurred images, imposing scratches and drawings on soundtracks and complicated cutting rhythms based on specifically pre-formulated diagrams to a variety of technical experiments and inventions which he has evolved over the years. And yet, appreciating Kurt Kren´s films is not a question of dissecting his technique, recognizing their richness of innovation or analyzing their rhythm. To understand these films it is not necessary to see through them but to feel and perceive them as real.
The leaves of a tree, the patches of a meadow, shades of light and colour nuances – everything is in permanent motion, generating a ‘visual thunderstorm’ (Kren) which makes the motifs appear as being translated into pure perception of time.
Michael Palm zu 37/78 Tree again von Kurt Kren
Man könnte meinen, Kren dokumentiere hier den Lauf der Zeit, nur eben beschleunigt. Doch in Tree again haben wir es nicht mit einem bloßen Zeitraffer zu tun, wie man ihn aus einschlägigen wissenschaftlichen Filmen kennt. Die Zeit wird nicht bloß beschleunigt, sondern zerstückelt, in einzelne Partikel zerlegt und zum Patchwork neu gefügt. Es scheint fast so, als erführe das referentielle Ab-Bild hier seine Apokalypse im rasenden Gewitter des wechselnden Lichteinfalls, im ständigen Wandel der ikonischen Qualitäten (Farbe, Kontrast etc.) und im diskontinuierlichen Schnellauf der Jahreszeiten. Wie ein verlorenes Paradies mutet deshalb das letzte Bild des Filmes an, das den Baum, jetzt wieder ruhig geworden, in "Realzeit" zeigt, wieder im scheinbaren Stillstand, nachdem ihm der Film erst Leben eingehaucht hatte.
(Michael Palm: Which Way?, Drei Pfade durchs Bild-Gebüsch von Kurt Kren, in: Hans Scheugl (Hrsg.), Ex Underground Kurt Kren. Seine Filme, Wien 1996)