Expanded cinema installation to break down traditional film

Pictured is a previous AgX Film Collective event entitled “Currents II: Experimental Sound and Film” which took place at the Waterworks Museum on Sept. 29, 2017. via Flickr

The Tisch Library roof will be lit up with film projection tomorrow from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Natalie Minik, a technical specialist and part-time lecturer in the Film and Media Studies department, has organized an experimental film event, entitled “Mixed-Use: A Night of Expanded Cinema with the AgX Film Collective,” to showcase the potential for film as an interactive and immersive experience, known as expanded cinema.

Minik said that the installation will feature different film projections onto the structures and trees on the roof of Tisch Library. She explained that this setup urges viewers to experience the installation by wandering and exploring as one would in a gallery space, rather than watching a film in a traditional theater setting.

“Cinema typically stays within a single channel, like in a theater or on your phone, and it’s this one-on-one relationship,” Minik said. “But what expanded cinema does is ask, ‘Where else can we experience moving image?’”

Minik also said that ENSEMBLE / PARALLAX, a music group from Berklee College of Music, will be performing at the event between 8 and 9 p.m. to accompany the moving images being shown.

“They’re a bunch of musicians from Berklee who work more within the avant-garde, atonal, 20th-century [and] 21st-century composers, creating more of an ambient soundtrack to complement the immersive experience,” she said.

Minik finds that this approach to film encourages viewers to observe the event however they want.

“It gives the audience more agency and also breaks up the idea of what a movie is,” she said. “You’re going to be able to sit and watch the musicians as well as sit and watch projections or just mill about the space and experience it.”

Minik is especially interested in the tactile nature of 16 millimeter (mm) film and hopes to showcase its uniqueness as a medium.

“There is a true beauty to celluloid and the actual physical material of film. I think in this day and age, when we experience so many things on digital screens or on our phones or these small images, we forget that film can be quite beautiful and its own material in itself. So I’m hoping that Tufts students who come to the event or just kind of stumble upon the event get to experience that beauty.”

The installation will include several 16mm projectors on display as part of the experience, according to Minik.

This event is not the first time Minik has worked on an experimental film showcase. She is part of a group called AgX Film Collective that experiments with analog film and creates similar experimental exhibitions. AgX has projected onto City Hall in Boston as well as in a Boston museum called Waterworks, where it incorporated the museum’s 19th-century industrial equipment into its exhibition.

Minik has been working with AgX to organize tomorrow’s event.

I’ve been wanting to do something and curate something of my own, and being up on that roof really just inspired me,” she said. “So that desire, plus my desire for more people to see moving image work on this campus, for the arts to be more a part of just the landscape of Tufts — those two things collided to create the project.”

Explaining that anyone is welcome at the event, Minik said that she hopes, above all, that students will enjoy interacting with film in a more experimental setting and appreciate film’s potential outside a theater.

“I’m hoping people walk away from it thinking there [are] a lot of possibilities with film, and that there’s not just one way to approach the medium,” Minik said. “And I also hope that people get excited about the arts at Tufts because I think there are a lot of really engaged students who probably crave more arts in public spaces.”