The Nightingale









WHITE HEART (1975, 53 minutes, vintage 16mm Kodachrome reversal print, color, sound)


White Light Cinema and The Nightingale are pleased to present a rare screening of Daniel Barnett’s little-seen 1975 masterpiece WHITE HEART, showing in an original reversal print. Barnett’s film is infrequently screened and is not well known, to the general film-going audience or to most experimental film aficionados alike.

It is one of those ‘famous’ films that practically no one knows about. But its advocates are passionate about it (mostly other filmmakers—it’s greatly admired by Nathaniel Dorsky, Phil Solomon, and Saul Levine, for example).

“Daniel Barnett is a leading experimental filmmaker who develops complex metaphors in his films out of rephotography and other post-production techniques. […] White Heart is his longest and most ambitious work. ‘Barnett's film consists of many disparate images, chosen for their strong sensual qualities, coupled with a labyrinthine and equally sensual soundtrack. After establishing the basic images, Barnett begins to interweave them, exaggerating certain qualities (color, texture) during printing. A mundane shot of a man jerkily spraying down an empty lot is adjusted so his shirt becomes a brilliant red glare. A super close-up of a fingertip holding a match is contrasty enough so every particle of sweat glistens in the lens. Concurrent sounds are similarly exaggerated and contribute to the sensual wash.... Shots are joined so that each moment resonates differently in time.’ (Steve Anker, in Visions). White Heart takes off from a series of Wittgensteinian monologues which illustrate, as Konrad Steiner writes in Cinematograph (1985), ‘the huge difference in the quality of knowledge we have about the experience of others, and that which we have about our own.’ It goes on to investigate meaning, in a manner which Steiner likens to the painter Cezanne: ‘[The film has a] chaotic livelihood, [a] sense of gathering meanings right before my eyes. In this way the film is ABOUT the genesis of meaning.... [Cezanne's] still lifes and landscapes depict a threshold of vision or perhaps an ur-vision, before the objects of that vision have been fully assimilated into the familiar, expected appearances through the action of the eye-mind. Likewise, Barnett's film depicts a threshold of meaning. We are presented with a weave of sound and image not committed to a precisely rigid message....’” (Pacific Film Archive)

“People describe this film as a machine that’s constantly on its way to breaking down. And that’s part of its seediness and its humor. For me that description of it sums up that quality of…um…I mean there’s almost a way in which I really do see the whole film as the outfielder chasing the fly ball. And on the way to the fly ball he trips over second base. He gets lost in the color of the grass.” (Daniel Barnett)

Daniel Barnett studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has taught filmmaking at SUNY Binghamton and at Massachusetts College of Art, and the San Francisco Art Institute. In addition to being an experimental film and video maker, he has worked professionally as a film editor and optical printing specialist and was the Executive Producer for Educational Projects at bePictures. He recently published the book Movement as Meaning in Experimental Film.


This program screens Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 8:00pm at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.).

Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale