natural history

USA | 2014 | 77 minutes | James Benning

Experimental filmmaker James Benning’s new film gives us a look at the life of inanimate objects in Vienna’s Museum of Natural History. Using a complex theory based on the digits of Pi and the average amount of time patrons view exhibits, Benning skillfully shoots each object or space with hypnotic effect.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Experimental filmmaker James Benning’s new film gives us a look at the life of inanimate objects in Vienna’s Museum of Natural History. Benning focuses on several spaces and objects for varied amounts of time, based on a complex theory Benning has about the digits of Pi and the amount of time Benning observed patrons viewing each exhibit (between two seconds and five minutes). The film is captivating, each shot drawing you in with its contrast to the one before it, celebrating their distinctions and seeming to contemplate their purpose, which is to be shown and be seen. A staple in the American structural avant-garde, James Benning’s work continues to be immensely hypnotic and strangely beautiful. natural history, (the lowercase intentional) actually became an exhibit itself in the museum, bringing up even more questions of art’s existence, purpose, and alienation.

Director Biography
Experimental filmmaker and steadfast fan of 16mm, James Benning began as a baseball-player turned mathematics major from Milwaukee, WI. He then worked in Colorado, teaching the children of migrant workers how to read and write. Benning currently teaches film and video at California Institute of the Arts.

  • Director: James Benning
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 77 minutes
  • Producer: James Benning
  • Screenplay: James Benning
  • Cinematographers: James Benning
  • Editors: James Benning
  • Filmography: One Way Boogie Woogie 2012 (Doc, 2012), Ruhr (Doc, 2009), Casting a Glance (Doc, 2007), RR (Doc, 2007), One Way Boogie Woogie/27 Years Later (Doc, 2005), Ten Skies (Doc, 2004), 13 Lakes (Doc, 2004), Four Corners (Doc, 1998), Deseret (Doc, 1995), Landscape Suicide (Doc, 1987), American Dreams: Lost and Found (Doc, 1984), One Way Boogie Woogie (1977)
  • Language: No Dialogue
  • Format: Pro Res 422