Special Warning: Robert Nelson | Chicago Reader

Special Warning: Robert Nelson

Though Robert Nelson trained as a painter, his experimental films are better known for their structural than their pictorial qualities. Shorts like Grateful Dead and The Awful Backlash challenge common expectations of how film sequences should proceed: in the former Nelson chops up and loops recordings by the rock band, purposely denying the trippy images any continuity, and in the latter he presents painter William Allan untangling a fishing line in real time but transforms the banal activity into a sort of meditation. Though these works may sound purely academic, Nelson's work is grounded in a playful spirit, as evinced by the campy detective-movie parodies of The Great Blondino and his own on-screen mugging in The Off-Handed Jape. All four of these were made in 1967 and are collected in the first program; the second ranges from 1967 to 1998 and includes Special Warning, Bleu Shut, and Hauling Toto Big.


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