Frank Kuenstler's films

@ PennSound Cinema


Country Su Casa
Color Idioms
El Atlantis

Frank Kuenstler (1928-1996) was a poet best known for his remarkable LENS (1964, published by Film Culture; available in full from Eclipse). While Kuenstler's  work as a film maker was rumored, the films themeselves only surfaced recently, ...via his daughter Emily and Andrew Lampert at Anthology Film Archive. PennSound cinema is making them available for the first time, with thanks to Andy, Emily, and AFA. There are four films in all, including one from 1968 that documents two plays by Serge Gavronsky starring a very young Rachel Blau (DuPlessis) and Michael O'Brien. The masterpiece is certainly "El Altantis." See all the films at Kuenstler's PennSound page..<Lens's brilliantly iconoclastic and cosmic compression of syntax and lexicon ranks Kuenstler with such pioneers of Zaum (Khlebnikov's word for pervasively neologistic poetry) as Gillespie, Melnick, and Inman. LENSis composed, basically, of two-word pairs joined by a period (though a period follows every word pair as well); though sometimes phrases stand in for single words. It is flush right, with hyphens noting split words. It runs 92 pages and is dated at the end: 1952-1964. Here is the opening of LENS (though note the original is justified):

mm.Pris. metiér.AAA. prime.Airies. numbers.Racquet. comma.Dei. rr.1919.
peru.Ruse. glen.A. ggg.Ire. leapfrog.Mick. créme.Nail. game.Ble. flame-
Bouyant. f.Rose. not.Ice. door.I. nigh.Eve. feather.Rail. mm.Error. mm.-
Pris. Oscar.Later. f.Oil. I'm.Moon. bb.Abe count.Tokay. newman.Asiatics.
mezzo.Potomac. sinned.Drone. signed.Hormone. rr.Asp. clues.Ott. oft.Shoes.
Deaf.Acid. ggg.Own. rape.Cyclical. Faith.Per Se. soul.Elicit. F.Unction. tie-
Grass. sign.Am carp.Pathagorean gas.Tone mm.Acquire f.Rail salon.-
Leica. Canine.Father tv.Jeeps it must be spring-A. picture of a flower
just flashed upon the screen. rr.Lourdes. rr.Lao-tse. rr-Enter. Rr.Entire.

"El Atlantis" (1973, 21 minutes)
from footage from the early or mid-1950s; soundtrack – a toy piano, played by Kuenstler, "tape slowed, edited, adjusted to fit the images" [Michael O'Brien]

"Color Idioms" (1968, 18 min.)

see full set of the films -- and with full screen -- at PennSound.