Duke University | Classical Studies:

    David Gatten
  • David Gatten

  • Lecturing Fellow and Artist in Residence, Arts of the Moving Image
  • Arts of the Moving Image, Program in
  • A219 Smith Warehouse
  • Homepage
  • Overview

    Over the last 15 years, David Gatten (b. 1971, Ann Arbor, Michigan) has explored the intersection of the printed word and moving image. The resulting body of work illuminates a wide array of historical, conceptual and material concerns, while cataloging the variety of ways in which texts function in cinema as both language and image, writing and drawing, often times blurring the boundary between these categories. Using traditional research methods (reading old books) and non-traditional film processes (boiling old books) the films trace the contours of private lives and public histories, combining philosophy, biography and poetry with experiments in cinematic forms and narrative structures. Exploring the archive in unexpected ways and making connections across categories of knowledge and fields of meaning, Gatten's films construct new compositions and generate novel conclusions from 19th c. scientific treatises, "out-dated" 20th c. instructional texts, and rare books from 17th and 18th c. personal libraries. Among the leading figures in a diverse movement dedicated to mining the fullness of 16mm film’s expressive possibilities in the digital era, David Gatten – in the words of film scholar Scott MacDonald – “continues to find new creative possibilities in the continued premonitions of film’s demise.” A recent Film Comment critics’ poll of avant-garde cinema in the 2000’s saw Gatten place within the top ten filmmakers, and included two of his films in a list of the fifty best individual works of the decade. In May of 2012 an international critics poll conducted by Cinemascope named Gatten one of the "Fifty Best Filmmakers Under Fifty" alongside Academy Award nominated directors Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Steven Soderberg, and Quentin Tarantino, as well as internationally renowned filmmakers Jia Zhangke, Lucrecia Martel, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Carlos Reygadas and American independent directors and film artists of Gatten's generation including Kelly Reichardt, Jennifer Reeves, Sharon Lockhart and Paul Thomas Anderson. "Texts of Light: A Mid-Career Retrospective of Fourteen Films by David Gatten," curated by Chris Stults, opened this past November at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The three program retrospective screened in Winter and Spring of 2012 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, MA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the ATA Gallery in San Francisco, CA; and moves on to a variety of venues (RedCat, Film Forum and The Panorama) in Los Angeles, CA in the Fall of 2012. Gatten's films premiere annually at Lincoln Center in the New York Film Festival and his films have been included twice in the Whitney Biennial. Since 1996 they have appeared in over 50 solo exhibitions, at well over 1000 group screenings at film festivals, museums, galleries and universities around the world, including those in Toronto, London, Paris, Rotterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid, Helsinki, Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok, Leeds, Brighton, Montreal, Kiel, Ghent, Torino, Naples, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Singapore, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Yokohama, Barcelona, Liverpool, Windsor, Victoria, Linz and in over 150 cities in the United States. His work resides in the permanent collections of the British Film Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as in numerous public and private collections. Gatten's films are included on over two dozen film history syllabi at universities and colleges in the US, Canada and Europe. In 2005 Gatten was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to continue his film series investigating the library of William Byrd, which Artforum called “one of the most erudite and ambitious undertakings in recent cinema.” Gatten's newest works will premiere in the Fall of 2012. The longer of the two new pieces, fourteen years in the making, is a 175 minute work of high definition digital cinema titled THE EXTRAVAGANT SHADOWS, and will premiere at Lincoln Center in the New York Film Festival on October 5th. A new version of a hybrid 16mm/HD piece, BY PAIN AND RHYME AND ARABESQUES OF FORAGING will premiere at the British Film Institute in the London Film Festival at the end of October. A former Associate Professor & Chair of the Department of Cinema & Photography at Ithaca College, Gatten has also taught the history, theory and practice of filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art in New York City. He is the recipient of four separate awards for Excellence in Teaching. Gatten is married to the filmmaker, writer and editor Erin Espelie. They live and work in old gold mining cabin, formerly the headquarters of the Charity Mining Co., in Four Mile Canyon, Colorado, on a patch of 13 acres known in the mining days as "Shedtown" that sits just north of the historic mining camp of Salina (current pop. 47), 40 minutes northwest of Boulder. Gatten is the co-founder and lead programmer for the Four Mile Film Society, a screening and discussion series dedicated to the exploration of the ethics of film making & film viewing that takes place twice a month at the historic miner's chapel The Little Church in the Pines. Since 2009, Gatten and Espelie have co-curated a salon series of poetry & film events at their cabin, known as LAMPS PICTURES GIFTS, bringing together visiting filmmakers and poets with the communities of Four Mile Canyon, Gold Hill, Boulder and Denver. Gatten and Espelie split their time between the Colorado cabin and Durham, North Carolina, where each Spring, and sometimes in the Fall, Gatten is Lecturing Fellow & Artist in Residence in the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University.
  • Other

    FILMOGRAPHY Silver Align (1995) Hardwood Process (1996) What the Water Said, nos. 1–3 (1998) Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-works applied to the Art of Printing (1999) The Enjoyment of Reading (2001) Secret History of the Dividing Line (2002) Fragrant Portals, Bright Particulars and the Edge of Space (2003) The Great Art of Knowing (2004) Film for Invisible Ink case no. 71: BASE-PLUS-FOG (2006) What the Water Said, nos. 4–6 (2007) How to Conduct A Love Affair (2007) Today! (excerpts) (with Jessie Stead) (2008) Today! (excerpts #28 and #19) (with Jessie Stead) (2008) Film for Invisible Ink case no. 142: ABBREVIATION FOR DEAD WINTER [Diminished by 1,794] (2008) Journal and Remarks (2009) Ordinary Time, Equivocal Inventory (2009) So Sure of Nowhere Buying Times to Come (2010) Shrimp Boat Log (2006/2010) Film for Invisible Ink case no. 323: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (2010) The Matter Propounded, of its Possibility or Impossibility, Treated in four Parts (2011) By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging (2012) The Extravagant Shadows (2012)
  • Research Summary

    Filmmaking and Film Curating
  • Areas of Interest

    History of the North American Avant Garde, Underground and Experimental Cinemas
    Poetics of Cinema
    Text-as-Image in Art and Cinema
    Representations of Time and Memory in Post-War International Cinema
    Contemporary Experimental Cinema Practice
    Integration of Contemporary Poetry and Experimental Cinema Communities
  • Education

      • MFA in Art,
      • School of the Art Institute of Chicago,
      • 1998
      • BA in Media Studies and Art History,
      • University of North Carolina Greensboro,
      • 1995
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