Nicole Brenez, curator for the

Retrospectroscope - 16mm, 5 minutes, silent, 1997

In 1997, Laitala completed a film that used the kinetic sculpture The Retrospectroscope, as source material. This 16mm film was hand-processed, has screened internationally, and has seared its imprint upon the retinas of many viewers. The Retrospectroscope apparatus has gone through many incarnations; its presence belies the processes that have created it. As a paracinematic device, it traces an evolutionary trajectory, encircling the viewer in a procession of flickering fantasies of fragmented lyricism. The Retrospectroscope is a reinvention that simulates the illusion of the analysis of motion to recall early mysteries of the quest for this very discovery now taken for granted. The Muses of Cinema represented by the female figures on the disk, have emerged from a dark Neoclassical past. Streams of images spin around, in an attempt to harness notions of a cinematic prehistory tracing past motions and gestures to burn their dance on the surface of the retinas. This film known as the Retrospectroscope, was described in the San Francisco Bay Guardian as “A spinning flashing UFO/roulette wheel of Athenian proportions.” This film was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation.

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SFMOMA Guest Curator, Scholar &

The Lightning at the beginning of the 16mm film Retrospectroscope was shot at the Museum of Science in Boston and the electricity was generated by the Van de Graff generator

Retrospectroscope was chosen by Film

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Moving Image


Expanded Cinema