Doorway for Natalie Kalmus is a film centered around the use of color in moving image technology, exploring the disorienting technicolor prismatic effects of the lamp house of a 35mm color film printer. Through minute shifts across an abstract color spectrum, punctuated by a mechanical soundtrack that echoes the movements within the lamp house, the film evokes kaleidoscopic perceptual after-images. The work pays homage to Technicolor’s color consultant Natalie Kalmus, the ex-wife of technicolor inventor Herbert Kalmus. She was the color consultant for hundreds of color films, with her name appearing in the credits of The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, the Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and many more. Much like composing music scores, Kalmus would draw up color scores for each film, according to her theories of “Colour Consciousness”. She also authored a short article entitled “Doorway onto another world”, in which she described her sister’s deathbed experience of seeing deceased family members.
In an interview with Ryan Conrath of George Eastman House, where the work was recently on display, Aura Satz further explains: “My interest in color followed on from a body of works I made about sound and sound technologies. I have always been fascinated by the inherent vibratory and unsettling qualities of sound that make it unwieldy to write or encode. There is a sense of approximation or loss of authenticity, an inevitable interference of noise and distortion. Looking closely at color made me realize how inherently unstable it is. Colors will inexorably fade, dissolve, and degrade, which makes it impossible to fully systematize or standardize. Color is highly unreliable and subjective on the level of perception; it is difficult to translate effectively into language or describe with any precision. Color has often been accused of being distracting, disruptive, garish, child-like or feminine. In working with forms of notation, transcription and reproduction, I am drawn to those points at which sound or color reveal an intrinsic resistance to codification.”
HD video, 2013, 9′
Soundtrack by Aura Satz and Steven Severin
Source: George Eastman House interview