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Line Describing a Cone

Anthony McCall
1973
30 mins B & W Silent 16 mm

Line Describing a Cone

The first of the 'solid light' films. Shown in an empty space, the film consists of the coming-into-being of a three-dimensional, projected cone of light in the space between the projector and the wall.
A.M.

'In Line Describing a Cone (1973), the conventional primacy of the screen is completely abandoned in favour of the primacy of the projection event.

According to McCall, a screen is not even mandatory. He succinctly describes the film: 'The viewer watches the film, by standing with his, or her, back towards what would normally be the screen, and looking along the beam towards the projector itself. The film begins as a coherent line of light, like a laser beam, and develops through the 30 minutes duration into a complete, hollow cone of light.'

The audience is expected to move up and down, in and out of the beam - this film cannot be fully experienced by a stationery spectator. This means that the film demands a multi-perspectival viewing situation, as opposed to the single-image/single-perspective format of conventional films or the multi-image/single-perspective format of much expanded cinema. The shift of image as a function of shift of perspective is the operative principle of the film. External content is eliminated, and the entire film consists of the controlled line of light emanating from the projector; the act of appreciating the film - i.e. 'the process of its realisation' - is the content.'
Deke Dusinberre, 'On Expanding CInema' Studio International, Nov/Dec 1975.

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