Nothing is over Nothing, 2008, Jonathan Schwartz (© Jonathan Schwartz)

In Person:

Warm Spots: Jonathan Schwartz

April 8 and 9, 2015

It is no accident that water and light are dominant motifs in the work of Jonathan Schwartz: they emphasize the elementary mode in which the filmmaker (b. 1973 in New York) approaches the medium of 16mm film. Schwartz makes the world visible through its smallest gestures and vibrations, giving it an unusual, sometimes disturbingly fleeting presence. Something else also becomes visible here, a central aspect of the analog film medium: how it decomposes and recomposes movement. In these films, flowers turn into fireworks (For them Ending), Boy Scout cartoons mutate into theatres of war (Sunbeam Hunter); a dive into the water is transcribed as chrono-photography (The Wedding Present). In other examples, the documentary tendency remains dominant: the recording of traces of everyday life in India, Israel, and Turkey.
In contrast with many of his colleagues, sound for Schwartz is equally important as the image. The scratchiness of the soundtrack, cover versions of pop songs, the human voice and impulsive loops create not only a mood, but often also transform the image: away from its content, towards an idea. Thus, especially in the shorter, haiku-like works from the 33 1/3 Series, it becomes clear exactly what is poetic in these films: Schwartz' precise yet intuitive application of the simplest means produces an entire ocean of associations. The films are an invitation to "see double" – as empathetically compacted cinematic surfaces and (this is especially apparent when watching Schwartz' work in its entirety) as a meditation on impermanence and loss. "The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water." (Ernest Hemingway)
Jonathan Schwartz will be available for discussions with the audience following both programs.

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