The Fourth Dimension

I first saw Rybczynski’s Tango, I Can’t Stop and some of Orchestra on the ABC’s Sunday Spectrum strand on TV back in the 80s in Tasmania (the original Sunday Spectrum doesn’t even rate a mention on the ABC website, but it was really important at the time. I seem to remember the work of Rybczynski, Michael Snow and Ed Emshwiller all being shown within the same month. Revelations.)

I’ve been hunting The Fourth Dimension since Tokyo. Tim saw it at (I may be wrong) Image Forum, and made it sound a thing worth tracking down. That was probably 13 years ago. The DVD set, including all the above and many more, arrived over the weekend.

So far, The Fourth Dimension is the treasure. It looks rendered, but given that it was made in 1988, I guess it’s most likely built using exquisite compositing, anamorphic lenses and motion control damped with several hundred tonnes of concrete. Unfortunately, the transfer suffers from streaky video artifacts and a washed-out palette, suggesting that the DVD was dubbed from laserdisk rather than digital or cine master. It’s also a shame the DVDs come with no notes other than a ‘making of’ for Orchestra. In fact, the whole package feels a bit thrown together. But given that these films seem to have been unavailable for years, it’s nice to have them in any form. Can’t help wondering if the ones originated in Hi-Vision will be rereleased in a more modern HD format sometime soon.

Zbig is quoted as having a systems approach to his film-making:

“l am only an observer”, Rybczynski explained, “I planned the operation and watch what would come out of it”.

All the films, to my eye, are much improved by watching them patiently, settling into the mood with the sound off, as ambient video art.

1 comment

  1. TOKYO: there were many many treasures in many many places in the city. looked like HD discs of various forms … and the Ryb was in there somewhere. left for the mystery and the wallet.
    ImageForum’s new digs are lovely but not quite so thick. However, in the back room with the directors there were untold wonders … rumors of Istvan Ladislav Galeta movies somewhere. Waiting. Did I ever mention ? Long story, but various things lead to me creating a site for the movie … and ImageForum premiered it (along with MoMa in NYC) … anyway, that lead to the inevitable o-cha and cakes and lots of okagesamade.


    NEW YORK: on return from Tokyo the A-train from JFK filled as if it were Ryb’s TANGO. A chubby Latino guy got on with a Bible and sat next to a Scandinavian looking girl … he started to sing hymns, loudly. Then a couple of hip-hoppy black kids started being very loud and talking about ‘nigger bitches’ so everyboday could hear. Then a group of rappers did their thing. Impressive backflips through the crowd, with many suitcases of JFK travelers to avoid.
    I have the jetlagged image of a middle-aged woman next to me wearing a mask typing *very* fast Kanji into her pink cellphone … but that was surely Tokyo.

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