The works in 'No Long Shadows' were developed in response to a peculiar chapter in recent aesthetic history -- the little-known story of a failed 1959 film festival, which was to be co-presented by experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage and military-chemical giant DuPont.
DuPont’s president at the time, Crawford Greenewalt, inspired by the National Film Board of Canada’s recent work, proposed the film festival as a corporate promotion – a showcase of cameraless, animated films, to be produced and screened exclusively on the chemical company’s new polyester film stock “Cronar."
They hired a young and apprehensive Stan Brakhage to run the promotion. But before the festival came to pass, Brakhage and DuPont had a falling out, Brakhage quit, and the event was canceled. In 1965, DuPont officially halted research into cinematic film products, rerouting their relevant facilities and resources into the manufacture of X-Ray film and specialized stock for the US military. In 2003, Stan Brakhage died, after years of battling a rare form of bladder cancer.
‘No Long Shadows’ emerges as both an expository effort and an aesthetic response to this disturbing chain of events, and to the conspiracies it spawned regarding DuPont's involvement in Brakhage's death. Investigating the material networks of sensory technology and scientific research that undergird the gleaming surfaces of art and film, these works frame aesthetic experimentation within contested histories of science, industry, capital, and war.
This project was carried out with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Monstera Foundation.
Photo Products Department
Custom lightboxes, Duratrans prints, gear motors, film reels, 16mm film
The framed images are all appropriated from DuPont's visual archive -- staged, theatricized photos of workers at the company's film laboratories in Parlin, New Jersey. Two motorized 16mm film reels very slowly draw 400ft of film across a central lightbox, showing thousands of X-ray images of internal organs. Invoking the lightbox's double function as artistic and medical device, the work invites the viewer to move in close and peer through the film strip, thereby mirroring the surrounding mosaic of DuPont actors and their ostentatious play of gazes.
Behind the sensory technologies and capitalized aesthetic products of film and photography, the visualized, compromised human body is framed here as a spectral horizon. Just as filmic and photographic technologies extend the body's phenomenological capacities, seeing in slow motion or through spectra the senses cannot access, and extending the imagined possibilities of aesthetic expression, these technologies are supported by a material back-end equally impactful on the porous bodies of workers and civilians, whose livelihoods are jeopardized by the dangerous chemicals and military research so fundamental to the production processes.
Residents of Parlin, NJ, the town surrounding DuPont's old photo products plants (pictured above), are seeking a Superfund classification for the area under the EPA, citing the extreme groundwater contamination and high cancer rates resulting from DuPont's decades of unregulated dumping.
HD video on vertical LCD monitor, inkjet prints on enhanced matte paper
HD video on vertical LCD monitor, inkjet print on enhanced matted paper, inkjet print on acetate
Expansion and Decline
Custom lightboxes, inkjet print on enhanced matte paper, inkjet print on acetate
No Long Shadows
HD video w/ sound, 16:9 aspect ratio