Chip Lord unearths unexpected details in urban landscapes
They did become aware, but they didn't say anything; a couple of shots, I couldn't use because the young woman was looking at the camera and sort of giving me a dirty look. At that point, I stopped [filming them].
This type of shooting is a form of people-watching. If you introduce a camera into that equation, it's very challenging. You want to get close to people, but without changing their normative behavior, and you don't want to be invading somebody's privacy. It's a kind of complicated ethical situation.
SFBG Another film in the program is Une Ville de l'Avenir (2011), which uses clips from Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965). This recontextualizing technique is one you've used previously. What do you think it helps achieve?
CL What's wonderful about Godard's film is that it's set in the future and has a very archetypical sci-fi plot, with a Big Brother character. But he shot it in present-day Paris, which was a brilliant idea. He found very good locations. I love that film, but I thought, "Now we're in the future that was imagined in that film, in a way. It would be interesting to go back and re-imagine some of the locations." That's the basic idea. I also book ended it as an airplane movie. So what you're seeing of Alphaville, you're seeing on an airplane.
I'm more interested in defining these kinds of public spaces than sticking to the narrative plot of his original film, although I did use music from Alphaville as well — such an evocative score.
SFBG Air travel is a recurring theme in your films, including the final Exploratorium film, In Transit (2011). Have you encountered any post-9/11 artistic challenges?
CL I've been told to stop filming many times. [Laughs.] I happened to make the unfortunate choice of spending some time at Kennedy Airport right after the "shoe bomber" had been apprehended. At that point, anybody who took out a camera in an airport was kind of suspect.
But from a larger perspective, air travel is an activity that has become so boring and routine — but it's still kind of miraculous. I always try to get a window seat, because it can be just amazing to look out the window for an extended period of time. For In Transit, I wanted to capture both of those elements. *
"OFF THE SCREEN: CHIP LORD CITY FILMS"
Thu/16, 7pm, free with museum admission ($19-$25)
Pier 15, SF
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