About the Films


David Haxton, Cineprobe, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976


"I started making films in 1969 as a result of my involvement with visual art. I became interested in examining the nature of the medium including light, movement, and the formation of a three-dimensional illusion on a flat surface. In order to make films within this context I have restricted the use of aspects of the medium. The camera remains in a static position throughout the films. Actions of the performers are limited to the description of the filmed scene through activities within the scene. Action takes place as movement back and forth in the scene and across the scene parallel to the picture plane. Real time continuity is retained throughout each film. No editing is incorporated. These restrictions enable me to record a performance which is the process of describing a three-dimensional space in terms of its two-dimensional representation on the film surface. The film screen is a newly primed canvas which becomes a spatial image when the light beam of the projector is interrupted by the film image. The spatial image is carved out of the illuminated rectangular surface by the performers' actions. The performers' activities are organized to produce a constant interaction between the physicality of the screen illumination and the illusionist image of a space produced by the film image." D. Haxton


These films came out of an interest in producing films from an artists viewpoint rather than from a filmmaking narrative approach. The films' stories were about the medium of film. It was not about recreating some life experience. The premise was to take the elements of film and create a story that was self reflexive. The film would describe itself by using the intrinsic elements that define film.

It was accepted that those elements that are intrinsic to film are: light, the illusion of space and, the reality of the space where the film is projected.


Early films in this group were designed to interact with the audience. In order to increase the physicality of the film screen surface the films were projected onto free standing screens in a gallery environment. Later films accepted the traditional theater for presentation.

These films were a story of space that at the same time confronts the viewer with the flatness of the viewing screen. They accepted the following statements:


Film describes space through light.


The light from the projector is viewed on the flat projection screen.


The illusion of a recorded space is revealed through this projection of light.


Sets created in the filmed space are designed so that the activities of the performers will gradually reveal the three dimensionality of the space while continually referring back the flatness of the screen and the physicality of the light producing the filmed image.