Keeping Score

(picture courtesy of Huckleberry Lain)

"Arnulf Rainer is more complex. It is built of 16 large units of 576 frames each (that is 24 squared), each of which are composed of 'themes' lasting 288, 192, 144, 96, 72, 48, 36, 24, 18, 16, 12, 9, 8, 6, 4 and 2 frames and exploring all possible permutations. Because there are 2 possible permutations for one frame (black/white), 4 possiblilities for two frames (black/white - black/black - white/black - white/white), eight possibilities for three frames, etc, for only 24 frames there are already 4096 possibilities. For this reason, Kubelka applied esthetic criteria to choose which of the perumatations would be used. The basic elements or microstructures are based on the permutations of 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24 frames, built up to the 576-frame-long large units. This goes for the image (black/white) as well as for the sound (silence/white noise [the white noise was provided by Pontus Hulten of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm]). The sound follows its own similar structure alongside the image; they rarely coincide light with noise, black with silence." - (Pip Chodorov)


"Kubelka's films do not in general have static 'formulas' that generate them. There are rules at work, to be sure, in the construction of the three 'metric films', of which 'Arnulf Rainer' is one, but they are the kind of rules one might find in early Western classical music, that is, music pre-1750, which create structures and make restrictions but are not fully 'generative'." - (Fred Camper)


The following is a handwritten transcription of the 'score' to Kubelka's flickering wonder Arnulf Rainer by Huckleberry Lain , from a print obtained with the assistance of Andrew Lampert and John Mhiripiri of the Anthology Film Archives.  It was Kubelka's contention that with such a score the film could be reproduced after all other means of display had been lost.  The film is an essence, in every sense of the word.  Used with permission.