Programme 2  (1976–78)
With JOHN SMITH and ERIKA BALSOM live in conversation


Summer Diary (1976-7, 30m. 16mm [magnetic sound])
Filmed in London during the summer of 1976, the view from the filmmaker’s window becomes the locus for a series of visual and verbal descriptions of the past and present. 
“The film’s concern lies in memory and the awkward distance between reminiscence and fact, personal accounts and objective phenomena … The function of memory presented through reminiscence and re-enactment presents the subjective at odds with objectifying mechanical devices (such as camera, thermometer, calendar) but engaged in the construction of a personal and historical position.”
    - Michael Maziere

Gardner
(1977, 6m. SD video from 16mm)
An experiment with densely layered information, commissioned by EMI to explore the possibilities of the newly invented video disc. Gardner was inspired by the man cited in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s fastest novelist. Erle Stanley Gardner, the mystery writer who created Perry Mason, dictated up to ten thousand words per day and worked with his staff on as many as seven novels simultaneously.

Hackney Marshes - November 4th 1977 
(1977, 15m. HD video from 16mm [silent])
An improvisation recorded over the course of one day, starting at dawn and finishing after dusk.  The film was edited in camera and shot from one camera position in the middle of one of the 112 football pitches that covered Hackney Marsh, a location chosen because of the similarities between the surrounding buildings and objects. Unforeseen events occurring in the vicinity were also recorded, influencing the direction of the subsequent filming. Through selective framing and changes in cutting pace and speed of camera movement, the film fluctuates between record and abstraction.

Hackney Marshes
(Thames Television [commissioned by] TV version) (1978, 30m. HD video from 16mm)
“Explicitly challenging all the accepted forms of the TV documentary, John Smith’s important film is extraordinary as the product of a major institution. The dual subjects are the inhabitants of tower blocks in Hackney and the components and conventions of filmmaking. Interviews with the former are cut against a limited sequence of compositions which illustrate and question the soundtrack in a number of distinct ways. Repetition, sharp editing, unlikely images (chalk lines, lift doors closing) and the deliberate reversal of normal devices all work to disorientate the viewer and to force a reconsideration of his or her relationship to the film. The overall result is, perhaps surprisingly, given the theoretical concerns, a strangely intimate picture of the subjects.  Importantly, its success demonstrates the necessity for many TV film-makers to re-think their safe approaches and accepted techniques."
    - John Wyver

TRT 81 mins

Mark





In celebration of John Smith’s 50 years of filmmaking, purge.xxx presents the most extensive survey of his work to date: screening 50 films by Smith, organised into 10 weekly programmes, every Thursday from October to December at 8pm, at Close-Up Film Centre and Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London.

Smith’s INTROSPECTIVE launches with a special, one-off music-focussed programme at the ICA (Saturday 1 October at 6:30pm) marking the vinyl release of BLIGHT, the soundtrack from Smith’s film with music by Jocelyn Pook. Smith and Pook will be present and in conversation, with rarely seen films including commissions for Charles Hayward and Echo & the Bunnymen screening on the night.

The weekly programmes are arranged chronologically, combining rarely screened works with well-known favourites.

For tickets please book events individually*, using the links listed along with the events.




JOHN SMITH: INTROSPECTIVE (1972–2022) is organised by Stanley Schtinter. For more information and to book tickets for events visit closeupfilmcentre.com and ica.art. For more information and to buy the Blight soundtrack visit purge.xxx. For Smith’s work: johnsmithfilms.com. To order a copy of the printed programme, *enquire about season passes, or for anything else: info (at) purge (dot) xxx




Mark