A Hollis Frampton Odyssey disc 2 (1971-1980)

Frampton explains his Hapax Legomena cycle:

Hapax Legomena means things said one time. The phrase is a piece of scholarly jargon that refers to words that occur only once in an entire literature or in the entire corpus of a writer’s work in the antique languages. The problem typically with a hapax legomenum is that because it occurs once, it occurs only in one context, and the context does not always reveal the meaning… There is always an element of uncertainty.

Poetic Justice (1972)

Frampton: “a film script in the act of becoming a film”

HF shoots 240 pages of a script upon a table, one at a time, describing a film in four scenes (tableaus). The first describes a couple of rooms in which “you” (I didn’t expect to be the star of the film) attempt to film a blue jay out the window until “your lover” comes home. The second scene alternates between shots of empty rooms, and shots of “my hand holding a photograph of the same scene” but populated. Next, the two of you make love while different impossible visions appear out the window. Back to photographs in the fourth scene, as your lover rifles through a stack of photographs, alternately showing the two of you in similar scenarios. The filmmaker returns: “Your lover’s hand is holding a still photograph of myself, filming these pages.”

Critical Mass (1971)

Slowly step through the audio of a two-character improvised drama, looping two steps forward, one step back, like a less intense but no less methodical version of a Martin Arnold film. Audio plays over black for a couple minutes, then picture, then picture disappears halfway through, and comes back (but out-of-sync) after an interval. Near the end, the editing stops interrupting every word of the dialogue, lets them run on for 20 or 30 seconds at a time, repeating sections we’ve heard before.

Briefly annoying, then thoroughly mesmerizing for the first half, then back to annoying.

I’ve watched (Nostalgia) before. The other four in the series are Travelling Matte, Ordinary Matter, Remote Control and Special Effects.


Criterion summarizes Magellan: “His intention was for the cycle to include thirty-six hours of film, to be shown over the course of 371 days, which Frampton dubbed the Magellan Calendar.” This never made sense to me until I heard HF’s comments on the disc:

First of all, it’s a kind of encyclopedia or inventory of sites (sights?) which proposes to have so many different images that it will function as a kind of voyage through the world… If one were to undertake to see the final film in a certain form there would be really a little bit to see every day… One of the aspects that I think is important is that I feel that the spectator of film who has been invited or asked to experience film… might also enjoy having another kind of experience of film that filmmakers have. For a filmmaker, film is not an exotic thing that you go out to, it is a thing pretty much that you do every day. For a filmmaker, whatever you’re doing, even if you’re making Cleopatra or something like that, still you live with it, it becomes an extremely intimate part of your life, which is vivid on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s very ordinary. Film is not an exotic thing to be doing for a filmmaker, it’s daily.

The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I (1980)

Green flickers on black as an orchestra tunes up. A thunderstorm. Then alternating shots of a wedding preparation (applause) and a silent film (a low buzzing sound), with a white/red circular wipe separating the two. Bizarre.

Pans 0-4, 697-700

I thought from the title that HF would be panning the camera for a minute, each in a different location, but these are simply minute-long idea-films using any sort of motion or effect.
0: two cloud patterns strobed together
1: hippie bead thing penduluming left and right
2: thin white stips falling downward
3: manic time-lapse run through cornfield
4: sheets of paper on wall blowing in breeze, overlaid with the same shot at a different time, so each page looks like two sheets, moving through each other
697: argh, machete man removing dead cow’s head
698: whipping back and forth in a flower field
699: boy taunts camera with a still-living frog on a fishhook
700: ghostly translucent road traffic

Selected Pans:

Ingenivm Nobis Ipsa Pvella Fecit, Part I (1975)

Nude woman walks, turns, skips rope, plays ball on a black field in stuttering stop-motion. To HF, this represents springtime.

Magellan: At the Gates of Death, Part I (1976)

Skulls and mummified things. Red and green overlaid patterns that would probably make your eyes fall out if you watched with 3D glasses on. A hexagonal pattern rushes past as a palate cleanser between the other sections. I liked this one a lot.

Winter Solstice (1974)

Opens with what looks like the bonfire shot from Zorns Lemma. Jittery handheld shots of fire – dark, all yellows and red, with single frames of light blue at the cuts. A shower of sparks which might have been Pan 2. It’s all repetitive, hypnotic and silent – an excellent film to doze off to.

Also on the disc is Gloria!, which I watched once before.

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