Category Archives: Screening


Film Material: Supernormal

Review by Mary Stark: Film Material was delighted to be invited to take up residence in the all new Vortex stage at Supernormal Festival, 5 – 7 August 2016, presenting expanded filmic performances, screenings and projections that animated the space throughout the weekend.

Vortex, Supernormal Festival, 2016

We were pleased to feature work by artists Mary Stark, Nick Jordan, Lord Mongo, David Chatton Barker and Sam McLoughlin, plus screenings from Chris Paul Daniels, Clara Casian, Joe Duffy, Dave Griffiths, and a short film programme curated by Nick Jordan (Back Roads to Far Places).

Lord Mongo ‘MERZMONGO’ – a film by Nick Jordan

Kicking off proceedings on the Friday night was Lord Mongo, with The Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers, presenting an improvised electronic and vocal performance to the expanded version of Nick Jordan’s film MERZMONGO (2016), originally made for ‘Film is Dead, Long Live Dada’ festival at the ICA. Featuring stream-of-consciousness vocals, Babylonian masks, and one forlorn, masticated, bug-eyed ferret marionette, the stupefying/electrifying Lord Mongo kicked off the residency with wild and deranged abandon.


Mary Stark & David Chatton Barker’s 16mm performance encompassed three separate works: Boing – springs sourced from abandoned film projectors transform into 16mm photograms with optical sound and live spriinngggg action. Then Solar Spell – saluting the sun through fogged and scorched film with optical sound, pre-arranged soundscape and live lens based light play. Finally, Bread – a filmic ritual giving thanks to tactile magic and domestic alchemy, the craft of making bread. Premiering at Supernormal, the 16mm performances were made only this year at Film Farm in Ontario, Canada, and were shown at Film Farm as well as at CineCycle in Toronto.

00266.MTS_7.jpgMary Stark & David Chatton Barker

 On Saturday, following film screenings from Film Material artists Chris Paul Daniels, Clara Casian, and Dave Griffiths, Mary Stark’s Film as Fabric performance summoned the obsolete industries through 16mm film projection with optical sound, mechanical noise and sounds associated with the production of cloth. Incorporating audience participation and live stitching into 16mm film stock, the work made great use of the dramatic, triangular Vortex space, with multiple projections and light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mary Stark Film as Fabric

Following Sunday’s screening of experimental short film programme, Back Roads to Far Places, curated by Nick Jordan, collaborative duo David Chatton Barker and Sam McLoughlin enacted their Cognitive liberation happenings and ritual instruments performance. A mysterious, exploratory, alchemical, visual and sonic transformation of everyday objects, rudimentary electronics, instruments and natural elements.



In partnership with BEEF (Bristol Experimental Expanded Film), Mary Stark concluded the weekend festival residency with Your Cup of Tea,  a 16mm film with original soundtrack, plus live sound including a whistling kettle and clattering tea cups, and of course freshly brewed cups of tea, served to the audience in BEEF’s Cephalopod space, located in the Supernormal woods…


Mary Stark, Your Cup of Tea (photo courtesy BEEF)


BEEF at Film Material


Featuring:  Matt Davies (Expo Leeds/ Kitev Oberhausen / Spike Island / Schmalfilmtage Dresden), Laura Phillips (Cortoformo / Annexinema / Spike Island / KARST, Vicky Smith (Alchemy FF / London SFF / Arnolfini / Tate Britain / London Film Makers Co-Op), Alexander Stevenson (KARST / Bristol Biennial / GoMA / Grand Union). This event is part of Rogue21 series in 2016 – celebrating 21 years of Rogue Studios in Manchester.

Review by Mary Stark: Following a week long residency in September 2015, with Manchester’s Film Material visiting BEEF in Bristol, this year three artists from Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film (BEEF) took part in a micro-residency in Manchester from 11 -15 April.  Matt Davies, Laura Phillips and Alexander Stevenson were based in Rogue Project Space before it opened for an event on Friday 15 April with film installation, performance and screenings from Matt, Laura and Alex, as well as Vicky Smith and Film Material’s Mary Stark.


Matt Davies showed a three projector 16mm film performance using film loops and sounds created from recording the transformers inside film projectors. Imagery included found macro footage of plants photosynthesising and at one point he burned film live in the projector.


Alexander Stevenson showed a 16mm film interpreting  The Mechanical and Chemical Processes of 16mm Film though dance. During his time in Manchester, Alex worked on a foley soundtrack to accompany the film before showing it for the first time at the event on Friday.


 Laura Phillips installed a 16mm cyanotype loop made by exposing filmstrips with fabric in windows around Rogue Studios. Threading across the ceiling,  the installation held a sculptural presence in the event space.33-frames-e1428821548138BEEF screened a 16mm film by Vicky Smith made by a bike being ridden along and across a length of clear film leader.


Mary Stark tested out new developments of a 16mm film performance, Film as Fabric, before showing it at Sound is Sound is Sound at The Albany in Deptford the following night. She experimented with new developments involving the audience being measured with film. Thanks to John Lynch of Manifest for these excellent photos documenting the performance.


During the week Film Material and BEEF also held an artist show and tell evening to share their practices. It was a pleasure to host the artists from BEEF, with this exchange marking the beginning of fruitful filmic relationships between artist filmmakers from Manchester and Bristol. Look out for more information about upcoming events at BEEF and with Film Material in Manchester as the two collectives forge further communal cinematic creations!

Photo credits: Mary Stark and John Lynch

Film Material #14: Mary Stark

Third Floor Studio & Project Space, Chapeltown Street, 26 February 2015

Site-specific film performance by Mary Stark exploring voice, optical sound and industrial noise, featuring works made during her September 2014 residency at the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto. Since 2012 Mary has worked with the filmmaking technology of optical sound, deriving ‘voices’ from fabric, lace and thread. Optical sound involves visual forms in the soundtrack area of the filmstrip translating into sound through film projection. This performance develops these explorations by engaging with the industrial heritage of Manchester in an atmospheric location, summoning absent voices, obsolete machinery and ghosts of industries past. Works involve live performance, 16mm film projection, sculptural light and shadow play, voice, industrial noise and music associated with the textile industry.  

Images © Ralph Pritchard, John Lynch & Mary Stark.

VideoFAG: Toronto

RSN UKFilm Material Soup at VideoFAG, Augusta Ave, Toronto, 16 December 2014, 7.30pm

Curated by Mary Stark: “Film Material Soup presents a diverse range of approaches to artist film: studio tests with sculptural forms; projected light and shadow; repetitive actions performed for the camera; photochemical sonic processes; rhythmic interrogation of the filmstrip and the video codec; romantic technological obsolescence; animated microfilm; far flung manmade habitats; flickering urban wilds; data traced through peripheral landscapes.”

Featuring: Jenny Baines, Jo Byrne, Annie Carpenter, Chris Paul Daniels, Joe Duffy, Dave Griffiths, Ben Gwilliam, Nick Jordan, Sam Meech, James Snazell and Mary Stark.

Videofag is a storefront cinema and performance lab in Toronto’s Kensington market dedicated to the creation and exhibition of video, film, new media, and live art.

Film Material #13: Winter Soup

Rogue Studios, 19 November 2014, 5-9pm

Another seasonal show-and-tell, of international photographic adventures. Ahead of his CFCCA show, Chris Paul Daniels test-screened his latest twin-screen video, A Tiger’s Skin. Shot during his journey with Transnational Dialogues Chinese Caravan 2014, to Hong Kong and five Chinese cities, Chris’ film is a contemporary echo of Chung Kuo, Cina. Revisiting similar locations to Antonioni’s 1972 feature, and reframing aspects of China’s economic, cultural and recreational daily life, Chris’s work highlights how documentary assumes authenticity, and the how the filmmaker struggles to speak about otherness. It’s also a subtle study of the photographic as a regime possibly more powerful than nation-states and broader geopolitical structures.

In another Asian project, Dave Griffiths reported on his and Joe Duffy’s field trip to Ordos-Kangbashi ghost city in 2013, and his recently completed commission for Full Circle Arts. The plain our bed the stars our blanket is a Google API hack, hosting Dave’s dense, navigable photo-collages of various locations in a depopulated mining mega-city of Inner Mongolia. Featuring pit heads, power stations, migrant workers, leisure zones and failing real-estate projects, his microfiche and online work documents a brief extinction event, the GDP-driven life and death of Xanadu.

Jo Byrne presented her poetic, acutely observed stills photographed during a visit to the redundant Coney Island resort of lower Brooklyn. In her depictions of the uncanny, of broken freakshow attractions and seaside surrealism, we were again reminded of photography’s potential for weird anthropology within the fractured remains.