Translucent Being: Bill Morrison

Creation methods of the American experimental filmmaker and documentarian Bill Morrison, who uses a variety of damaged celluloid strips in his films; most often, however, those damaged by the ravages of time.

Decasia (Bill Morrison, 2002)

Thorough work with archival materials draws attention to the imprints and damages left behind over the course of time, reflecting its memory and shaping poetic images of a period whose passage not only increases the visibility of the effects of time but, at the same time, also highlights political meanings and the process of selective memory. In his experimental and compilation documentaries, Bill Morrison (born in Chicago in 1965, currently living in New York) works with found footage, combining it with contemporary music. Morrison works with leading composers and musicians to create his films, including the likes of Jóhann Jóhannsson, John Adams, Philip Glass, the Kronos Quartet, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, and Aleksandra Vrebalovov. In the 1980s he studied at Reed College in Portland and later graduated from Cooper Union’s School of Art in Manhattan. After his studies, he began working with the Ridge Theater in New York, for which he created short films as part of its avant-garde programs.

He has received many prestigious awards for his work; his films have been introduced at many important festivals and continue to be screened in cinemas, galleries, museums, theaters, and concert halls throughout the world. In 2003, the New York weekly The Village Voice wrote, “Morrison’s Decasia is that rare thing: a movie with avant-garde and universal appeal … Its flame-like, rolling black-and-white inspires trembling and gratitude.” The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMa) has eight of his works in its permanent collection, and organized an extensive retrospective exhibition for him in 2014–2015. In 2013, Morrison’s feature film Decasia (2002), created in collaboration with composer Michael Gordon, became the first twenty-first century film to be included in the U.S. Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

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