In the summer of 1963, while Stan Brakhage was filming his epic Dog Star Man and forging his own cosmology in the process, he was also obsessively collecting the scattered remnants of moth wings, dry sprigs, seeds, blades of grass, and other bits of organic matter. He kept them like charms, pressed reverently between pieces of 16-mm Mylar – the “clear” polyester strips used in film editing. But once the artist had used up all his stock, running out of film, he decided to work directly with these prima materia drawn from reality, “reanimating” this personal still life by setting his microscopic collages into motion against the light. At times like a transfiguration of the rite that is the cinematic viewing experience (with beings drawn to and dancing before the film projector “flame”), at others like a metaphor for the fragile (unmediated and humble) nature of artistic creation, and always like a game in which the eye “must know each object encountered in life through an adventure in perception,” in the words of Brakhage himself, this hand-crafted work – originally titled Dead Spring – confronts and conquers death with each frame, 24 times per second.
Screening Schedule

No physical screenings scheduled.

Direction: Stan Brakhage
Format: 16mm
Color: Color
Production Country: USA
Production Year: 1963
Duration: 4'
Contact: The Film-Makers' Cooperative

Stan Brakhage

Working outside the mainstream, the wildly prolific, visionary American filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1933–2003) made more than 350 films over half a century. Challenging all taboos in his exploration of “birth, sex, death, and the search for God,” he turned his camera on explicit lovemaking, childbirth, and even autopsy. Many of his most famous works pursue the nature of vision itself and transcend the act of filming. Some, including the legendary Mothlight, were created without using a camera at all, as he pioneered the art of making images directly on film, by drawing, painting, and scratching. He is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.


1952 Interim (short)
1953 Windows Cast a Terrible Reflection (short)
1958 Anticipation of the Night (short)
1959 Window Water Baby Moving (short)
1961 Thigh Line Lyre Triangular (short)
1963 Mothlight (short)
1967 Scenes from Under Childhood (short)
1971 The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (short)
1974 The Stars are Beautiful (short)
1981 The Garden of Earthly Delights (short)
1988 I… Dreaming (short)
1996 Commingled Containers (short)
2001 Dark Night of the Soul (short)