Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Blank Generation

Amos Poe and Ivan Kral... The Blank Generation (1976) at UbuWeb Film & Video. "...CBGB, the small Bowery Avenue club that spawned and nurtured American punk and New Wave music in the mid-70s, closed earlier this fall after a three-decade run. Fortunately, New York filmmaker Amos Poe was hanging out at CBGB in its early days and began filming performances by many of the musicians who would become the stars of the late 70s/early 80s as the rest of America embraced punk and New Wave music and style. Taking his silent 16mm footage and separate audio cassette recordings, Poe and co-director Ivan Kral (guitarist for Patti Smith) put together a documentary, 'Blank Generation' (1976), that exemplified a punkish attitude toward film structure with handheld zooms, angled compositions, floodlight lighting, extreme close-ups, elliptical editing, flash pans, and a general in-your-face and 'up-yours' stance. Sound and image purposely do not synch. In many cases music and image were recorded on separate nights more economical because of the high cost of raw film stock with sound, but also an aesthetic nod to Jean-Luc Godard who had slashed the umbilical cord uniting sound and image. Out of the French New Wave came the New York No Wave. Neither a collection of music videos nor a straightforward documentary, "Blank Generation" captures in embryonic form vital appearances of the Talking Heads, Blondie, the Ramones, Television, and, most belligerently of all, Patti Smith."


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