David Rimmer b. 1942
Surfacing the Thames (1970)
Director: David Rimmer
Time: 8 mins

‘A beautiful, mysterious yet satisfying optical illusion…celebrates the early passing of a steam on the Thames. Using freeze-frame techniques, elaborate dissolves, and most of the resources on the optical table, this picture is, amongst other things, a Turner come to life. Rimmer’s concern with the surface nature of the film is most evident in this work which, in spite of its filmic complexity, is incredibly simple.’ — Donald Richie, (Museum of Modern Art)

“SURFACING is a brilliant film which, in its way, belongs in the same class as Snow’s WAVELENGTH. I’ve never seen anything like it. Rimmer rear-projected a ten-second sequence of old World War II footage showing two ships passing on the Thames. He rear-projected each frame, filmed it for several seconds, then lap-dissolved to the next frame, filmed it for several seconds, etc. The result is a mind-blowing film of invisible motion. The ships pass one another like the hands of a clock, without apparent motion.

“SURFACING ON THE THAMES is the ultimate metaphysical movie, the ultimate post-minimal movie, one of the really great constructivist films since WAVELENGTH. It confronts empirically the illusions of space and time in the Cinema and, in my estimation, is at least as important as WAVELENGTH as a statement on the illusionistic nature of cinematic motion.” —Gene Youngblood, ArtsCanada magazine

Collection: Museum of Modern Art, NY