Search the Collection

La Region Centrale

Michael Snow (Canadian, b. 1929)


Medium 16mm film; color, sound; 180 min. Measurements No Measurements Credit National Endowment for the Arts Purchase Grant for the Acquisition of Films by Living American Film Makers, and Director's Discretionary Fund with Monies Given by the Women's Committee Accession Number 77.24.70 Location Not on View


The landscape images of La Région Centrale were filmed from a mountaintop overlooking a lake in a remote region north of Sept-Iles in the Québec Province of Canada. Snow used a motor-driven machine of his own design to rotate the camera in continuous sweeps in very direction across the landscape and sky. The directions and speeds of the machine's movement were planned in advance and were at times controlled automatically with electronic sine wave frequencies and at others with manual controls. The machine itself is not visible in the film, although its shadow occasionally appears. The film is divided into seventeen parts that range in length from thirty seconds to thirty minutes and are separated by leaders marked with a yellow "x." The film approximates the cycle of a day, proceeding noon through sunset and from dawn to noon. The sound track, added later, replicates the sine wave frequency modulations used to control the machine; at the end of the film, however, the relationship between the sound and camera movement breaks apart. The three-hour completed film was edited from material that Snow shot over a period f five days in the wilderness. Snow, who represented Canada in the 1970 Venice Bienale, is a painter, sculptor and photographer, as well as an influential experimental filmmaker, who worked in New York City throughout much of the 1960s. La Région Centrale is related to the 1960s and 70s work of such artists as Michael Hauser, Robert Smithson, and Richard Long, who marked and excavated remote areas of landscape and also collected rocks and other landscape materials to incorporate into gallery works. Rather than using actual landscape materials, Snow uses the dynamic properties of film to "mark" the landscape through camera movement, transcending gravity as he pursues a visual journey through landscape space.