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Debrie Contact Printer - Pilot Residency by Els van Riel
by Els van Riel
When Aurélie Percevault asked me to come over to Nantes for 3 weeks to work on the Debrie printer at MIRE, I immediately said yes. Anyone who attended Bains Argentiques meeting in July 2016 would be happy to return, I’m sure.
Since long I was longing to work with a real 16mm contact printer. And figure out the limits of our Brussels'lab Takita which is constructed to make double8 prints from a 16mm original, but is used as a contactprinter.
I had new prints to make for my 16mm installation work entitled OMER.
And since some time I walk around with one specific idea that needs printing and reprinting. And reprinting.
The opportunity to experiment with MIRE's DEBRIE to start exploring this idea came right in time. To be given 3 weeks to spend in MIRE and Nantes is what I consider grand luxury. THANK YOU!!
I’m used to use public transport much more then highways and wonder why people complain about traffic jams. Not one I had. Not even at the Paris ringway.
At 7pm, Aurélie is there to welcome me with a tour in the lab, the keys of the lab and the studio, and a light dinner. How lovely to be in Nantes again. Feeling home already. Good memories of passed Bains Argentiques meeting filling the mind up again.
Introduction to the machine DEBRIE TIPRO. In french a machine is feminin. Une machine. I wonder why.
I make it run a few times, but only with amorse. It sounds great. The switch buttons need a bit of force. The physical attraction is there.
I see where to find the chemistry, which baths and Lomotanks to be used. I make it myself comfortable in the MIRE lab.
There is also the area to discover again, some admin to be done and a fridge to be filled up. Lunch with Aurélie, Cathy and Miles. The MIRE trio back at work after their summer time off. Perfect timing.
The Debrie is stubborn from time to time, eats the perforations, don’t I charge it the way I should? Is there a problem with synchronisation between the one pressing tooth and the two guiding teeth?
I try different ways.
The day ends with a lovely courtyard dinner with some more MIRE filmlab fanatics, and a short informal presentation of my work.
Results with the actual OMER negativ. I make enough prints for the rest of its life. I hope. Or not.
Needing air and summer light, I stayed away from the darkroom and went for a bicycle ride in the countryside at 30°C. Following the river Sèvre but blocked because of a sudden very different world: horse races. A horse, the most beautiful creature. I do understand the love for horses, I don’t see why making them race.
Ending the day with a Hitchcock 35mm projection in the lovely Le Cinématographe cinema. A Woman Vanishes.
BUCHSTABE is a word that blows my mind. It gives me headspace. Empty space in the head, to fill it up with new points of view.
A word for a letter that finds its origin in the history of writing and printing. There was a time when if something was Written it was considered Truth. Only because nothing much was written I guess.
In Brussels, to prepare the residency, I made a kinéscopage of the word. White on black. In different languages.
Idea is to make the printing process of the word BUCHSTABE as the tension span of a filmwork.
By double exposure of both negative and positive on the very same print. And this as many times as possible. pinling up.In the end.
We’ll see what happens.
Tests and more tests.
Taking time in between when tests are drying to go out for walks through Nantes.
More tests and tests.
Discover the lovely pancakes, the renewed museum of contemporary art.
The riverside, the fountain kids.
One more test and preparing for the evening show.
What an honour to see my filmwork in combination with G.Sherwin’s At the Academy, S.Lawder’s Necrology and Colorfilm.
Lovely evening, with all good people of Nantes, ending in a local bar with ‘la jeunesse de Nantes and a ukulele’
One day off to the seaside, with James Snazell.
Last year after Bains Argentiques, seeing the seaside near Nantes I wandered if J.Tati made his film ‘Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot’ at that beach. And yes I was close. Now I wanted to visit St. Marc-sur-Mer and was delighted to see that the famous hotel is still there. A bit of the atmosphere didn’t vanish over time.
The statue made in honour of his character was disappointing though. What a mistake.
A long walk along the beaches towards the sunset wasn’t.
Home at midnight and exhausted.
A short lab visit and another day off and out in city of Nantes.
Nantes has something with chimneys. They are very present and seem to grow as if natural. Due to new buildings being build higher and higher I was told by a local stove technician.
A Charlemagne Palestine concert in open air at the annual end summer Jazz meetings, and a drink in a bar opposite Le Cinématographe called Le Méliès.
When is white white and where does it become grey and darker to black?
Mistakes lead to different tracks.
Back to the first idea. End of time approaching.
I prepare for a short showing of the results in the evening, and the unevitable AU REVOIR.
Packing the lab, cleaning up, saying goodby. To both Aurélie and MIRE and Nantes.
Talks about how to proceed if I want to come back to maybe some day finish this piece.
Ride back home.
Now only one short trafic jam at the Paris ringway.
Summer 2017 is gone.
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