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Gadflies

Stan Brakhage

USA, 1976
14 minutes, Colour, Silent
Available formats: Super-8

These [Super 8] films were made in 1976. I do not wish to describe them.
When I entered films in the Experimental Film Competition of the 1958 World’s Fair, I included the following statement in protest to their demand for a ‘summary of the subject’ (description). I’ve finally come to understand the importance of my then stance with respect to description. In 1958 I did provide descriptions of each film entered – my only mistake. Now I rather quote the clarity of that long ago protest, finally comprehended:
I want it understood that this ‘summary’ is written for identification purposes only and that it is not intended as a statement by the artist on his work. It is my belief that statements by the artists, particularly in print, are so associated with his work as to become appendages to that work and aesthetically speaking, would better have been included in that work in the first place.
If a film is a work of moving visual art, it is its own subject and subject only to itself. The extent to which a film can be described is the extent to which it is deficient as a work of visual art. If the summary of the subject of a film can be interpreted as that which is intended to inspire perception in the viewer, rather than as that which attempts to describe the film for the viewer, then (the title) is my ‘summary of the subject.’ – S.B.