Now Playing! At the Exploratorium, A Look Behind the Filmmaking Curtain

Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie, Still from 'Dot Matrix.'  (Courtesy of Richard Tuohy)

The ineffable mystery of inspiration. The combustible magic of collaboration. The accomplished hand of craft. Intuition as a guiding light. Improvisation as an essential skill. Which of those elements of creativity intrigue you the most? Some people are perfectly satisfied with the experience of watching a movie and require no further elucidation, but most want a look behind the curtain at the process of filmmaking.

Trick of the Hand (Thursday, June 14 at the Exploratorium), a rarefied program of screenings by and conversation between Australian experimental filmmaker Richard Tuohy and Angeleno and Exploratorium artist-in-residence Tristan Duke, promises insights into the use of physical materials–notably photo-chemicals and self-made cameras–to produce art. Their work evokes words like “analog” and “artisan,” which is to say their films are produced by hand rather than with the aid of computer chips.

Optics Division, 'Liminal Camera.'
Optics Division, 'Liminal Camera.' (Courtesy of Optics Division)

For an even deeper dive, join Tuohy and Dianna Barrie on Saturday for a hands-on workshop in “bipacking,” a technique by which a layer of color is added to black-and-white 16mm film. The workshop comprises just one component of Lightplay: Festival of Light (June 16 at the Exploratorium), an all-day immersion into the ethereal relationship between photo-chemicals and perception.

Duke and his cohorts reveal the secrets of their Liminal Cinema, a mobile, truck-mounted shipping container outfitted to shoot and develop large-form photographs (reminiscent of Agnes Varda and JR’s process and pictures documented in last year’s Faces Places). The day-long immersion into the intersection of art and science concludes with Barrie and Tuohy’s dual-projector Dot Matrix.

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