Paul Sharits: Declarative Mode [Against the Tyranny of Preconception]

Declarative Mode – Paul SharitsScore for Declarative Mode 6C – Paul Sharits

Paul Shartis’s scores for his film Declarative Mode, made in 1976-77, consist of coloured ink marks on graph paper, notating shifts between pure colour tones during frame transitions. Sequences of frame flicker, containing saturated hues, are reduced to tessellations of symmetry breaking motifs resembling fluid flow diagrams and lattice structures.

The film, itself, consists of two identical prints projected simultaneously, with one overlayed inside the other, and slightly out of sync, creating a non predictable and dynamic interplay between patterns. In this sense Sharits creates a bandwidth of partially deterministic possibility – there is some degree of randomness between predefined limits.

Declarative Mode – Paul SharitsScore for Declarative Mode 6B – Paul Sharits

Although known for his work as a structural film maker Sharits maintained that Declarative Mode was a ‘non-structural film and is narrative like, even while it contains much flicker. One cannot predict the scene by scene fabric, nor is there an overall unifying principle. The film attempts to be like-life full of unexpected twists and turns. It is an homage to Jefferson’s anti-slavery section of the Declaration of Independence and it is my declaration of independence from the tyranny of preconception, of working from an overall structure of structural logic’

Declarative Mode – Paul SharitsScore for Declarative Mode 3A – Paul Sharits

In Declarative Mode we see only a visual structure that gradually moves ‘from a measured poise towards an ecstatic level of colour-light pulsation (ending in micro-oscillations around 5 cycles per second, which is at the primary fade-wave cycle possible in sound speed 16mm film and is also a rhythm associated with certain neuron pulses during expansive, inspirational states of consciousness)’ – Paul Shartis in Stuart Leibman’s monograph [PDF]

Declarative Mode – Paul SharitsScore for Declarative Mode 3C – Paul Sharits

According to Anthony Bannon, ‘Sharits creates new hues not actually present upon the film through their co-temporal blending and through after-image retention. It’s a a complex phenomenon that yields sublime transitions across a spectral range, while the inner frame pulses with illusionistic movement as the hues change from warm to cool’

Declarative Mode – Paul SharitsUntitled, Undated – Paul Sharits [Colored drawing 60 x 60 x 40cm]

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