The Shape of Film to Come

New Film Conceptions 2 – The Shape of Film to Come
14'  16mm  b/w

The film’s composition follows the algebraic notation of a chessgame, transfering it directly on to the film strip and the number of frames. The positions of the chess pieces are indicated by black and clear leader with scratchings or marks showing the coordinates of the chess board, the moves of the pieces are displayed in the way that the number of squares in the movements is corresponding to the number of film frames. On the film strip one could indeed reconstruct the game. (In the introduction sequences showing the chess board the principles of the golden section and the Fibonacci numbers in the framework are applied again as in our previous works.)

Furthermore the six different chess pieces are illustrated by tarot cards (taken from the Aleister Crowley/Frieda Harris Thot tarot deck), positive for white and negative for black, amplifying the collective symbolic connotations of the chessgame for the human psyche. Chess is a game of representation, historically reflecting the feudal system and the social forms of power, classes and sovereignity  that are derived from religious structures until today.

Thus the correspondence with the tarot cards opens up the concept towards a symbolic transgression that goes beyond the limited aspects of human rationality that is based on and derived from a godlike reason. Chess is representing a male system of paternal power and its logic of strategic war. Therefore the first games from the series of the famous chess world championship 1972 were chosen for the composition (, because after a long dominance of soviet players it also had the political dimension of reflecting the cold war situation on the chessboard, a prestige game of war and power displaying an almost fetichelike human rationality and paranoia.
(Note that in the chess federations in the ELO points rating system there is an unquestioned discrimination of women, treating their master degree for less, showing that the chess world overall is traditionally rooted in reactionary surroundings.) 

The allusions in the title „The Shape of Film to Come“ are manifold. Obviously the concept is inspired by music. In 1968 John Cage and Marcel Duchamp played a game of chess as a performance where their moves on an electronically prepared  chessboard were transformed into sounds. In 1959 free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman made an album „The Shape of Jazz to Come“ that was programmatically foreshadowing a new style and conception in jazz. It has a great irony too for us proclaiming new conceptions for the future in film exactly at a point where film itself, its materiality, is dying out, giving way for pure digital cinema that is in most cases very limited and poor in its scope of thinking compared to the analogue. There is no future for film and there is no real film to come any more. Todeskino displays death in motion and was born in the times of the irreversable death of film. But the fear of death is the crucial basis of human existence. Man is not master of time. Film is the last art in the row of art forms and the only one to really create in the field of both space and time, even more expanded than in modern architecture. With film art dies. The digital image media  try to control everything by a binary code system and the way of „computing“ analogue material fame by frame structurally appears to us as the only way to transgress that. Chess is predestinated to illustrate this binary world of black and white in cold logic. It is a ridiculous, neurotic or sometimes even psychotic, human attempt to challenge death. In Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal a desperate knight plays chess with death and the pool is his life. But death says „I give no respite“. It is the futile try to suspend what comes in future, the inevitable move of a „superhuman“ transgressive force. Chess is, like all art forms, and it is an art in itself in a way, an economic system, in the closed form of limited economy like Bataille would say, and on the fringes of its representation that what transgresses it. The art of the chess master is anticipation of the future until there is no future left and nothing to come exept the death of the king, the taboo, the feared incestuous transgression. (video, „I see“…)  
The gaining of "time" and "space" is indeed a classical term in chess strategy. Today there are absurd battles reflecting the late global capitalistic status, to write chess programs with fantastic ratings that are playing the world championships among themselves and that no human grandmaster is able to beat any more. The machine, although constructed by humans, overpowers them and leaves a blind spot in a grotesque unconscious identification or projection: mortality. Through the machine age of late modern technological civilisation a kind of „immortality“ is tried to be obtained, neglecting that even gods die…  The battle for space, the 2nd WW, was transformed more and more into a battle for time, „information“, during the cold war period, now in the post-political post cold war era the battle to control the masses is raging on as a struggle for information revealing itself every year in new processors for faster and more complex calculations, more electronic „space“ for data storage, higher resolutions for pornographic images, grotesque financial games and so on.
Needless to say that there is another aspect of what is to come: fatality. The tarot is traditionally used for divination. As long as the film is played from the reel there are always frames to come. The shape of film to come is our film. We don't stop playing - far out...
the coordinates of the chessboard used for the algebraic notation of a chess game, basis for the film's score and notation structurally, frame by frame

Thot, egyptian god of the scribes and of magic

tarot card "The Fool" from the Aleister Crowley/Frieda Harris "Thoth" deck, in the film representing the chessgame's pawn piece

The Knight of Wands, representing the knight

The Tower, illustrating the rook

The Hierophant, representing the bishop

The Empress, representing the queen
The Emperor, representing the king

stills from "The Seventh Seal" by Ingmar Bergman
the psychoanalysis of a cold war, Fischer vs. Spassky 1972 

John Cage & Marcel Duchamp, "Reunion" performance Toronto 1968 
John Cage: In Zen they say: If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, try it for eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on. Eventually one discovers that it’s not boring at all but very interesting.
Chess & Jazz 
Anthony Braxton: Chess is an affirmation of proportional logic, chess is an affirmation of geometry and composition is sonic geometry ... number is also poetic.