Stan Brakhage described 'Prelude 2 (1996),' the second in a series of 24 short films, as follows: "Interplay of toned rectangular shapes, vertical and horizontal and diagonal lines in juxtaposition with hardened darker shapes which gradually shift tone and lighten until ending on thin blues." I can't argue with this description: there are certainly toned rectangular shapes, all sorts of lines, and hardened darker shapes, but why do they matter? Hand-painted directly onto sections of 16mm film, "Prelude 2" (as with its predecessor) seems to be operating on a one-dimensional level: that of art painted directly onto film. The animation doesn't distort the viewer's visual perception as was the case with 'Black Ice (1994)' nor does it inspire the subconscious to invent its own reality, as I found with 'The Dante Quartet (1987).' Instead, it gave me a little bit of a headache, which only worsened when I tried to decipher Brakhage's artistic motivations. There must be something to the "Preludes," or else he wouldn't have made two dozen of them. Time will tell.
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