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Video Data Bank
112 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603

Canyon Cinema
145 Ninth Street, Suite 260
San Francisco, CA 94103

The Film-Makers' Cooperative
c/o The Clocktower Gallery
108 Leonard Street, 13 floor
New York, NY 10013 USA

Facets Multi-Media, Inc.
1517 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614

Chicago Filmmakers
5243 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60640


91 Madison
Whitesburg, KY 41858

Center for Land Use Interpretation
9331 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Documentary Educational Resources
101 Morse Street
Watertown, MA 02472


Media Rights
104 W. 14th St., 4th Fl.
NYC 10011

Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10018

Women Make Movies, Inc.
462 Broadway, Suite 500WS
New York, NY 10013
TEL 212.925.0606

Bullfrog Films
P.O. Box 149
Oley, PA 19547

High Plains Films
P.O. Box 8796
Missoula, MT 59807

First Run Icarus Films
32 Court St, 21st Flr
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Electronic Arts Intermix
535 West 22 St., 5th floor
New York, NY 10011

KINO International
333 W. 39th St., Ste. 503
New York, NY 10018

Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Peripheral Produce
P.O. Box 40835
Portland, Oregon 97240


Re: experimental nature films

Re: Landscape films

The Southern Humanities Media Fund

Wild Spaces, Endangered Places
The 1996 Virginia Film Festival Program

Making Sense of Place > Phoenix: The Urban Desert

Appalachians: A Contemporary Cultural Perspective
Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University
August 26 – December 23, 2003

Alien2 / Video Library and Screening
A Project by Heidrun Holzfeind
Swiss Institute - Contemporary Art

The Santa Cruz Documentary Film and Video Festival > Stories of Travel

The Santa Cruz Documentary Film and Video Festival > In the Face of Globalization

new americans / new america
october 14 - 24, 1996


1996 LANDSCAPES AND PLACE: Wells College, Aurora, New York.
Curated by Ruth Bradley, Kathy High, and Loretta Todd.

"Land, Landscape & Reflections on Home: Ten Short Films About Place from the University of Iowa, 1972 to the Present" is an 80-minute program of short films that consider the concept of "place" -- as tangible geography in the wry "The Measurements of Oxford," as the romance of corn or cattle in the award-winning "Husks" and "Cold Cows," or as absence felt and memory transformed as in "What's Left is Wind," "The Unbelievable Act of Totally Disappearing" and "Taiwan Video Club."


The Garden in the Machine A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place
Scott MacDonald
December 2001, The University of California Press

"This book is MacDonald's magnum opus: it represents a deep immersion in and advocacy for independent, experimental cinema."--Patricia R. Zimmerman, author of States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies

"This is a brilliant study--learned, authoritative, and often eloquent. One reads this book with astonishment at the wealth of thoughtful and playful and provocative work that has occurred in this medium--and astonishment too that most scholars of environmental literature and nature in the visual arts have had minimal contact with independent film and video. MacDonald provides an immensely valuable, readable overview of this field, profoundly relevant to my own work and that of many other contemporary ecocritics."--Scott Slovic, editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

"The Garden in the Machine is clearly MacDonald's major work. It is very original and wide reaching especially in its analysis of the relationship of American avant-garde films to the poetry and painting of the native landscape. MacDonald's authority is evident everywhere: he probably knows more about most of the films he discusses than anyone alive."--P. Adams Sitney, author of Modernist Montage : The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema and Literature

"The Garden in the Machine reflects Scott MacDonald's career-long lived engagement with avant-garde film and filmmakers. With deep respect for the artists and a rich, wide-ranging curiosity about the cultural histories that inform these films, MacDonald makes a powerful argument for why they should be screened, taught, and discussed within the wider context of American Studies. Throughout, MacDonald analyzes themes of race, history, personal and public memory, and the central role of avant-garde films in shaping our possible futures."--Angela Miller, author of Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875

DESCRIPTION - The Garden in the Machine explores the evocations of place, and particularly American place, that have become so central to the representational and narrative strategies of alternative and mainstream film and video. Scott MacDonald contextualizes his discussion with a wide-ranging and deeply informed analysis of the depiction of place in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, painting, and photography. Accessible and engaging, this book examines the manner in which these films represent nature and landscape in particular, and location in general. It offers us both new readings of the films under consideration and an expanded sense of modern film history.

Among the many antecedents to the films and videos discussed here are Thomas Cole's landscape painting, Thoreau's Walden, Olmsted and Vaux's Central Park, and Eadweard Muybridge's panoramic photographs of San Francisco. MacDonald analyzes the work of many accomplished avant-garde filmmakers: Kenneth Anger, Bruce Baillie, James Benning, Stan Brakhage, Nathaniel Dorsky, Hollis Frampton, Ernie Gehr, Larry Gottheim, Robert Huot, Peter Hutton, Marjorie Keller, Rose Lowder, Marie Menken, J.J. Murphy, Andrew Noren, Pat O'Neill, Leighton Pierce, Carolee Schneemann, and Chick Strand. He also examines a variety of recent commercial feature films, as well as independent experiments in documentary and such contributions to independent video history as George Kuchar's Weather Diaries and Ellen Spiro's Roam Sweet Home.

MacDonald reveals the spiritual underpinnings of these works and shows how issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and class are conveyed as filmmakers attempt to discover forms of Edenic serenity within the Machine of modern society. Both personal and scholarly, The Garden in the Machine will be an invaluable resource for those interested in investigating and experiencing a broader spectrum of cinema in their teaching, in their research, and in their lives.


1. The Garden in the Machine
Larry Gottheim's Fog Line, Thomas Cole's The Oxbow, J.{ths}J. Murphy's Sky Blue Water Light Sign, Panoramas

2. Voyages of Life
Thomas Cole's The Voyage of Life, Larry Gottheim's Horizons

3. Avant-Gardens
Kenneth Anger's Eaux d'artifice, Marie Menken's Glimpse of the Garden, Carolee Schneemann's Fuses, Stan Brakhage's The Garden of Earthly Delights, Marjorie Keller's The Answering Furrow, Anne Charlotte Robertson's Melon Patches, Or Reasons to Go on Living, Rose Lowder's Ecological Cinema

4. Re-envisioning the American West
Babette Mangolte's The Sky on Location, James Benning's North on Evers, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, Ellen Spiro's Roam Sweet Home

5. From the Sublime to the Vernacular
Jan DeBont's Twister and George Kuchar's Weather Diaries

6. The City as Motion Picture
The New York City Symphony: Rudy Burckhardt's New York Films, Weegee's Weegee's New York, Francis Thompson's N.Y., N.Y., Marie Menken's Go! Go! Go! Hilary Harris's Organism, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing Panorama, the San Francisco City Film: Frank Stauffacher's Sausalito and Notes on the Port of St. Francis, Bruce Baillie's Castro Street, Michael Rudnick's Panorama, Ernie Gehr's Eureka and Side/Walk/Shuttle Coda--Deconstruction/Reconstruction: Pat O'Neill's Water and Power and Eugene Martin's Invisible Cities

7. The Country in the City
Central Park, Jonas Mekas's Walden, William Greaves's Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One

8. Rural (and Urban) Hours
Hollis Frampton's Zorns Lemma, Robert Huot's One Year and Rolls 1971, Nathaniel Dorsky's Hours for Jerome, Peter Hutton's Landscape (for Manon) and New York Portrait, Part I

9. Expulsion from the Garden
Thomas Cole's The Garden of Eden and Expulsion from the Garden, Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, Carl Franklin's One False Move, J.{ths}J. Murphy's Print Generation and Horicon

10. Satan's National Park
Bruce Conner's Crossroads, Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness, Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, James Benning's Deseret and Four Corners

11. Benedictions/New Frontiers
Chick Strand's Kristallnacht, Stan Brakhage's Commingled Containers, Andrew Noren's Imaginary Light, Leighton Pierce's 50 Feet of String, David Gatten's What the Water Said, nos. 1-3

Appendix: Distribution Sources for Films and Videos

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Scott MacDonald teaches at Bard College. He is currently at work on volume 4 of A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers (volumes 1, 2, and 3 available from California). He is the author of Avant-Garde Film/Motion Studies (1993) and editor of Screen Writings: Scripts and Texts by Independent Filmmakers (California, 1995).

Read the introduction and the first chapter


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