Untitled 1990/2023 is the digital version of an up to now practically unreleased black-and-white 16mm film I shot and edited in San Francisco, 1990. It’s the same film, frame by frame, yet the new version is more than the original. By way of overscan the image spills beyond its edges into the neighbouring frames above and below the frameline as well as it includes (most of) the vertical edges of the film strip, thus making visible the material basis and, with the sprocket holes (film perforations), also part of the transport mechanism of this 19th century technology.
Untitled 1990/2023 is dedicated to the filmmaker Ernie Gehr who inspired the original work in a very personal way, and, from a distance, also this new one. (Thomas Korschil)
“Going up?” is more likely to be heard at the elevator door than before an escalator’s entrance. Instead of the dangling car’s pause, riders of the latter are always moving while aboard, answering without a word. True, those first split seconds of horizontal scooch might be inconclusive, but people usually face forward, and the mechanical ladder would be seen rising or falling ahead.
Orientation and constant vs. intermittent motion are but two of the games played by Thomas Korschil’s original version of Untitled (1990), the first in his cluster of 16mm explorations of staccato (the only to use continuous roll-long takes). This new edition, created 33 years later, adds dimensions, including a whole new spin on 1/3rds.
The centerpiece of the digital run is the sole frame that would have appeared in 20th century projections. In it, we start with an angled look at a portion of four metallic stairs. Rarer single frames max out with one less: three (the elusive yet achievable number of silver bands [more consistently two] in the film’s second part). Though differently scaled, the scan makes slivers of adjacent frames visible, giving us the common denominator…in stares. The video’s first case has our now tripled view mimicking the shot’s slender outer steps’ hug of fatter middles.
Feeling wobbly? Hang on to 2023’s depicted handrails: the filmstrip’s. The scanner’s elevated vantage shows the sprocket holes they hold, creating a geometry in the opening ride’s top left corner where curvature of empty white meets widened frame line black, itself arcing patches of smooth escalator wall against striations (scan lines!). [Note the momentary duplication of darkness in the rising stair break until “solarization” kicks in]. But don’t grab too tight. The edge numbering (like so much else) proposes pondering. Untitled’s positioning of its passengers? Its relation to Lawder’s Necrology (1970) or Gehr’s Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991)? Figuring for future-go-rounds. (Ken Eisenstein)