A Lens Brightly shines on experimental master Gregory Markopoulos | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

A Lens Brightly shines on experimental master Gregory Markopoulos 

University of Chicago presents mid-career landmarks by the creator of the epic Eniaios cycle.

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Gregory J. Markopoulos, circa 1965

Gregory J. Markopoulos, circa 1965

RARELY SCREENED AND UNRELEASED on video, the experimental films of Gregory Markopoulos are among the cinema's prime glories. Markopoulos was born in Toledo, Ohio, and founded the filmmaking program at the School of the Art Institute in 1966, though soon afterward he relocated to Europe, where he died in 1992. The short films on this program—two of places (Ming Green, Bliss) and one of a person (Through a Lens Brightly)—are sensuous yet strangely elusive; their intercutting and superimposition of multiple images suggest more than they show. The program's centerpiece is the silent Genius (1970, 86 min.), screening here in the re-edit that Markopoulos completed in the 80s for his career-spanning, multi-part Eniaios. Intermingling three portraits (one of the artist David Hockney) with darkness and solid white, Markopoulos reveals human presences that extend beyond the body; snippets as short as a single frame are intercut with the same images reversed and upside down, which seems to spread each figure into near-infinite space. Markopoulos named the Faust legend as an inspiration, and his juxtapositions suggest an alchemical mixing of souls.

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