Hojas de Maíz

2002, 16mm, color, silent, 10 minutes at 18 frames per second.


The program with Hojas de Maíz was excellent. It was a music-based program, so including a live performance was perfect. We had a full house and Emily [Goodden]'s composition/improvisation was great, timing wise and all. People loved it.

It was really exciting to be able to present your film this way. As the slick "perfection" of digital continues to pervade everything, showing a hand-made piece, on film, with live music, was a beautiful antidote and demonstration of the power of the human touch.

Todd Eacrett, Festival Director
Antimatter Festival of Underground Short Film & Video
Sep 2003

It appears, then, that the deaths of the avant-garde and the alternative were prematurely announced; it's not that artists somehow lost the ability to create savvy interventions in response to their times, but probably rather that what counted as avant-garde was linked to assumptions privileging dominant treatments of modernist ideology. Subjectivities, technologies, and epistemologies shift, in relation to the requirements and constraints of material and corporeal realities. In early cinema, a primary area of experiment took audiovisual material as streaming musical form – today, reconfigured production technologies invite artists to revisit those experiments. Eric Theise's Hojas De Maíz presents visual abstraction somewhere between the dancing scratches of Len Lye's Free Radicals, on the one hand, and Stan Brakhage's highly rhythmic later experiments in visionary abstraction on the other. Hojas de Maíz operates between two of the polarities of abstract musical animation: work may be rhythmic in synchronization with music, or work may present purely visual rhythms of its own. The film's scratched and saturated aesthetic puts visual texture on a par with musical timbre, with the effect that perceiving takes place as a kind of musical noise or a process of elemental interference. An interest in rhythm intersects with an insistence on subjective vision to provide a renewed sense of multimedia as a temporal process of aesthetic perception.

Instead of marginalizing small, artistic, or amateur production as experimental, alternative, and essentially non-productive, then, it's more precise to say that works like these allow competitions, shifts, and displacements to be located within material, critical, and historical trajectories. The upshot is that vital experiments in form that may co-exist or alternate with new claims and articulations of identity.

James Tobias, closing remarks
(dis)junctions: Cinetax, University of California, Riverside
Apr 2003

Des films qui travaillent et retravaillent la matière, et montrent qu'elle est aussi et surtout parcourue de sens. La matière fait sense, et le sens est lui-même matière... à penser. Composants indissociables de la liberté. Stan Brakhage est l'un des pionniers quant au travail sur la matière (pour mémoire entre autres ses magnifiques Film peints à la main). Des films comme The Planets ou Hojas de Maíz viennent s'inscrire dans ce courant.

Les films que vous allez voir, découvrir ou revoir sont des films où la pensée, plongeant au coeur même de la matière, s'exprime avec la plus totale liberté.

Emmanuelle Sarrouy & Jean-Paul Noguès, Curators
Programme Aixpérimental, Festival Tous Courts,
Dec 2003

Hojas de Maíz (2002), a film laboriously hand-processed by printing cornhusks on celluloid, drew inward, far away from whatever might have been happening in the world outside. The visual rhythm and vibrant colour, though lovely to watch, had more in common with Standish Lawder's Raindance (1972) than with anything else on the program.

Genevieve Yue
"A Report on the International Experimental Cinema Exposition", Senses of Cinema
Dec 2003