Films 1957-66

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Piano Salon 1. Floor, 1956

In both Piano Salon and Das Walk the topic of travel and change of place is evoked, permitting recognition in retrospect of a development which shows its basic stylistic characteristics in Kren’s early films: the seemingly casual collection of images which happen before the camera during a journey. (Hans Scheugl)

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Rome (Fragment), 1956

Some vacation pictures from Rome.

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Das Walk, 1956

A “stroll” at various locations: the St. Marx Cemetery, the Prater park, Carnuntum. We see people taking walks, construction workers, people flying model planes and other little observations. Kren also used a short segment of found footage in color which shows a woman in a bikini. (Hans Scheugl)

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Attempt with synthetic Sound, 1957

In a rapid montage three images are juxtaposed and furnished with scratching noises directly drawn onto the film. Editing took place “in camera” during the shoot. Everything is laid out ahead of time according to a written score – nothing is left to coincidence. (Sigrid Sprung)

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48 Heads from the Szondi Test, 1960 

Kren’s second film and the first which he cut in accordance with a strictly serial sequence technique: in various frame sizes, the 48 portraits from the Szondi Test for “experimental diagnosis of human impulse” are shown in pre-specified length. (Peter Tscherkassky)

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Trees in Autumn,1960

Kren looks at and simultaneously away from nature. He approaches the trees as an optical experiment, observing them in regard to their abstract value. Their effect upon the senses constitutes what is relevant, in order to be fit into a strict rhythmic and mathematical calculation, without having to consider narrative development or process. (Thomas Trummer)

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Walls-Positive-Negative and Path, 1961

In a flickering symbol shattering, total collage technique, Kren energizes the cinema frame with a unique thing-ness, that energizes the viewer. (Al Hansen)

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People Looking out of the Window, Trash, etc., 1962

Almost as if entering the picture frame by chance, mute characters lean out of Viennese apartment windows, simply to have a look. Under certain historical conditions social apathy can abruptly turn into euphoric collaboration, and, yes, massive aggression. (Elisabeth Büttner)

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Mama and Papa, 1964

Shot/countershot sequences alternate, lumping back and forth between single (!) frames, they turn the Actionist turmoil into ornaments, rigid geometrical patterns, the equivalent in time to what Mondrian used to distill on canvas in space. (Peter Tscherkassky)

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Leda and the Swan, 1964 

Based on a Muehl Happening. The almost convulsive use of juxtaposition reappears here, but the captured gesture assumes a more erotic sensitivity, though the “action” itself was primarily a gradual destruction of the erotic. (Stephen Dwoskin)

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Ana - Action Brus, 1964

While flash editing had made Mühl’s actions rage, the repetitive qualities had ensured that the “moving ornament” was still legible. The single-frame process Kren uses to record Brus’s action as if writing with his camera makes the image almost less than discernible. (Peter Tscherkassky)

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O Christmas Tree, 1964

In O Christmas Tree Kren offers a more visually descriptive development of a Muehl action. The images have been chosen to follow a more dramatic sequence, probably because the action itself contained a wide range of images and materials. (Stephen Dwoskin)

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Self-Mutilation, 1965

What the film emphasizes is the surrealistic drama of symbolic self-destruction that Kren drew out of Brus’ action, pacing out each gesture so that one gets a tense, iconoclastic revelation of a man covered in white plaster lying surrounded by razor blades and a range of instruments looking as if they have been taken from an operating theatre. (Stephen Dwoskin)

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Silver - Action Brus, 1965

In the films Kren made during the Günter Brus “Actions”, plasticity is expunged. In contrast to the Muehl films, the body stretches out of the material and because of this becomes more difficult to differentiate from its environment, from the other objects. (Michael Palm)

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Brus wishes his Christmas on you, 1965

A kind of home movie made in Brus’ apartment. This film differs from Kren’s other “home movies” in that it was shot in single frames. Brus’ Christmas wishes can be seen on a poster which he painted and which he holds for a short time in front of the camera. (Hans Scheugl)

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Helga Philipp Painting, 1965

The “kinetic” subject of Helga Philipp enables Kren to make a commentary about contemporary painting and its current concerns (i.e. illusion, psychedelic effect, ornament and fashion), as well to create a self-referential work on the reception of film. (Thomas Trummer)

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Cosinus Alpha, 1966

Mühl talked me into filming an action. And when I was thinking about how I was going to edit it, it suddenly turned out that some Turks wanted to buy the film. I didn’t cut very much out as I normally did, and for that reason it’s probably a few seconds too long. You have to remember that we were always extremely short of money and didn’t know how we were going to continue working. Then the Turks didn’t buy the film at all, they said it was too dirty for them. (Kurt Kren)