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Crystal Constructs: an evening of films in conjunction with Robert Smithson: Time Crystals

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Wednesday 5 September, 6pm (Total screening time: 67 minutes)
MUMA | Monash University Museum of Art
Ground floor, Building F, Monash University Caulfield Campus
FREE ///


Curated by John Edmond

Shifting from the microscopic to the macroscopic, Crystal Constructs builds a model of the world, paralleling chemicals crystallising under pressure with the geometries of human constructs.

Crystal Constructs is the second in a series of three film screenings in conjunction with the Robert Smithson: Time Crystals exhibition.


From the Realm of the Crystals

J.C. Mol | 1927, 7 minutes

Uit het rijk der kristallen is one of the first scientific films made ​​by Mol and documents the crystallisation processes of various chemicals. The resulting flow of images, both scientifically precise and abstractly beautiful, produced a work that was not only screened at educational and scientific presentations, but also resonated within avant-garde circles (including, notably, at ‘Studio 28’ in Paris where the film was screened as a ‘triptyque’, with three projectors side by side.)

This is the colour version, made using the Dufay colour process.

Courtesy of the EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam

EYE Filmmuseum


Phase Transition in Liquid Crystals

Jean Painlevé | 1978, 7 minutes

François de Roubaix’s electronic music accompanies these images of liquids crystallising, photographed under a polarising microscope. Colours give way to sepia, then refract to multiple colours. Crystals look like tiny organisms; small four-part fans share the frame with flowing lines of pink.

Courtesy of Archives Jean Painlevé


Crystal World

Pia Borg | 2013, 12 minutes

Crystal World is inspired by JG Ballard’s apocalyptic science fiction novel where a viral crystal transforms trees, animals, humans and architecture into frozen prismatic jewels as time begins to leak and humans experience individual moments endlessly looped, repeated and prolonged. Borg’s work adapts this concept of crystallisation and applies it to Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955). Fragments of this iconic film were reconstructed in miniature and placed under water and a solution of mono ammonium phosphate, leading to the inexorable crystallisation of the film.

Courtesy of Pia Borg


Salt Crystals Spiral Jetty Dead Sea Five Year Film

Jennifer West | 2013, 54 seconds

70mm film negative floated in the Dead Sea and given a healing clay bath in extreme heat in 2008 – stuffed in a suitcase, placed in studio buckets, covered in clay and salt for five years – dragged along the salt encrusted rocks of the Spiral Jetty and thrown in the pink waters in 2013 in below 10 degree weather – Dead Sea floating and mud baths by Mark Titchner, Karen Russo and Jwest – Spiral Jetty dragging and rolling by Aaron Moulton, Ignacio Uriarte and Jwest – DIY telecine frame by frame of salt covered film by Chris Hanke

Courtesy of Jennifer West

70mm film negative transferred to high-definition

Commissioned by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art


Il Capo

Yuri Ancarani | 2010, 16 minutes

Monte Bettogli, Carrara: in the marble quarries, men and machines dig the mountain. Excavated for Delhi’s Akshardham, Rome’s Pantheon, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and Michelangelo’s David, and famous for its calming, luminous whiteness, Carrara marble belies the physically dangerous and exhausting work of the quarrymen exhuming it. Il Capo manages, coordinates and guides quarrymen and heavy-duty machines using a language consisting solely of gestures and signs. Conducting his dangerous and sublime orchestra against the backdrop of the sheer slopes and peaks of the Apuane Alps, the Chief works in total noise, creating a paradoxical silence.

Courtesy of Yuri Ancarani and Slingshot Films


Fort Morgan

Alexander Stewart | 2014, 24 minutes

Fort Morgan is inspired by a brick fort of the same name on the Alabama coast. The film uses live-action footage and drawn animation to examine the geometric plan, physical materials, and structure of the 200-year-old fort. Following an intricate geometric diagram, the fort grows of its own accord like an oyster shell or a crystal forming, until it is eccentrically shaped, encrusted, and overgrown.

Courtesy of Light Cone


Image: Il Capo 2010, film still. Courtesy of Yuri Ancarani and Slingshot Films

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