A luminary member of the post-Brakhage generation of American avant-garde filmmakers, Ernie Gehr is today among the most influential artists working within, yet always reaching far beyond, the structuralist tradition that reinvigorated experimental cinema in the late 1960s and 1970s. Beginning in 2001, Gehr completely shifted his production from film to video while applying the same playfully rigorous curiosity to the digital as the cinematic, seeking to harness the very essence, however ineluctable, of the “new” medium. In this screening, Gehr presents and discusses his latest work on HD, including Photographic Phantoms (2013, 27 min), Picture Taking (2010, 10 min), Winter Morning (2013, 18 min), Brooklyn Series (2013, 8 min) and A Commuter’s Life (What a Life!) (2014, 20 min).
The New York Times has described Gehr’s work as “abstract, beautiful, mysterious, invigorating, utopian,” saying he had “embraced [the] Modernist cry, shunning mainstream narrative to make films in which bubbling grain, streaks of color and pulses of light are the main attraction.”
A self-taught artist, Gehr was inspired to begin making films in the 1960s after chancing upon a screening of a Stan Brakhage film. His films have screened internationally, including retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Centre Georges
Pompidou in Paris, the Musee du Cinema in Brussels and at the San Francisco Cinematheque, and he has received awards and grants from numerous institutions, including the National Endowment for the Arts, a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship and the Maya Deren Award from the American Film Institute. Formerly a faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute, Gehr has also taught and lectured at the University of California at Berkeley, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Deutcher Akademischer Austauschdienst in Berlin. His film Serene Velocity (1970) was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. His films are distributed by Canyon Cinema in San Francisco.