Pro Arts Cinema Matinees curated by Tooth:

All the Names of Nothing: Films by Paul Sharits

Paul Sharits was a radical iconoclast who saw in cinema a critical crucible of praxis with revolutionary capabilities to investigate, interrogate, demolish, and reinvent the human senses in a process of perpetual transgression and transcendence far beyond the known thresholds, toward new visionary potentials. Notoriously known for his usage of alpha-wave inducing, hypnagogic, flickering color fields, Sharits continually utilized a wide variance of structural devices throughout his oeuvre to incisively magnify and deconstruct the process of filmmaking and viewing, including ground breaking work in installation, expanded cinema, sculpture, painting and theory. For the fourth installment of the collaborative matinee series between Pro Art and black hole cinematheque, we look at two major mid-career works by Sharits – N:O:T:H:I:N:G (1968), and S:Stream:S:S:ection:S:ection:S:S:ectioned (1971).

All films on 16mm prints from Canyon Cinema Foundation.



N:O:T:H:I:N:G (1968/36 mins/16mm)

S:Stream:S:S:ection:S:ection:S:S:ectioned (1971/42 mins/16mm)



N:O:T:H:I:N:G (1968)

Based, in part, on the Tibetan Mandala of the Five Dhyani Buddhas / a journey toward the center of pure consciousness (Dharma-Dhatu Wisdom) / space and motion generated rather than illustrated / time-color energy create virtual shape / in negative time, growth is inverse decay.

“The screen, illuminated by Paul Sharits’ N:O:T:H:I:N:G, seems to assume a spherical shape, at times – due, I think, to a pearl-like quality of light his flash-frames create … a baroque pearl, one might say – wondrous! … One of the most beautiful films I’ve seen.” – Stan Brakhage

“You are pulled into the world of color, your color senses are expanded, enriched. You become aware of changes, of tones around your own daily reality. Your vision is changed. You begin to see light on objects around you. … Your experience range is expanded. You have gained a new insight. You have become a richer human being.” – Jonas Mekas

“In essence there are only three flicker films of importance, ARNULF RAINER, THE FLICKER, and N:O:T:H:I:N:G. … In terms of the subject we have discussed here, it is Sharits’ N:O:T:H:I:N:G that opens the field for the structural film with a flicker base.” – P. Adams Sitney


S:Stream:S:S:ection:S:ection:S:S:ectioned (1971)

A conceptual lap dissolve from “water currents” to “film strip current”/Dedicated to my son, Christopher.

“Yes. S:S:S:S:S:S is beautiful. The successive scratchings of the stream-image film is very powerful vandalism. The film is a very complete organism with all the possible levels really recognized.” – Michael Snow

“In his earlier flicker films, Sharits expores the mechanisms of perception and projection, and now he takes his investigations to their logical extreme – to the nature of the film-strip itself. … The fascination and energy of the film derive from its multi-dimensional dialectics, in which all available systems of experience are contrasted with their logical opposites/complements: sound against vision, film as representation against film as object, circular against linear structure, progression against regression, past against whole, meaning against abstraction.” – David James, Art & Cinema