Terra Firma, 35mm, silent, 7 minutes-2005

"Terra Firma" uses 35mm film material that I had laboriously* mastered from a 1908 nitrate print of a " Trip Down Market Street", incorporated with other found images of San Francisco’s built environment before the 1906 disaster. Other images have been gathered from archival photographic materials from numerous vantage points depicting the built space of early San Francisco. Some images that have been re-worked are panoramic in scope, and comprised of pans of large format still images taken by Edweard Muybridge in 1878. Other architectural motifs immerse the viewer in details that exemplify Victorian ornamentation and atmosphere. Underground shots of cables and machinery from the Cable Car Museum have been used to call attention to the technology of transport prevalent during this period as well as the equipment used to make the film. The visage of Muybridge appears as an apparition of foreboding, one that acts as a harbinger of destruction. The shaky flickering imagery also evokes notions of motion analysis within the structure showing the in-between frames and the anachronistic way that the imagery moves backward and forward in time.

Most of the Imagery has been hand processed and contact printed using collage processes. “Terra Firma” as a title proves ironic as history has shown that this early San Francisco cityscape would be as precarious as the dance on the precipice of a volcano.

Commissioned by The Exploratorium for the Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005 Outdoor Centennial celebration. Special thanks to Wells Fargo N.A. who graciously allowed me to borrow prints of the Muybridge panorama so I could re-photograph them onto 16mm. Additional thanks to Cineworks Film Co-Op in Vancouver who let me blow up the portion of 16mm film material to 35mm on their Oxberry optical printer.


Click for Screening History

Rick Prelinger generously loaned his early nitrate film print of "A Trip Down Market Street" and I contact printed it by hand by gently laying it on top of unexposed 35mm film print stock, laying plexi-glass on top to make a tight contact between negative and print stock and exposing the film with a flash light. I then hand- processed the film in 100ft. lengths.

Moving Image


Expanded Cinema