Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada
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Remember Rings -
Historical Travelogue Circular Panoramas
Remember Rings illustrate and narrate histories of films and family, film families, and family films. Remember Rings are descendants of my adolescent love for expanded photography and the concept of time-travel and the 4th dimension. In the 1960s I constructed portable, 360-degree photo panoramas of my street and held them over my head. I was inspired by Thomas Edison's inventions which led to the video disc, by the Talking rings and spinning vehicle in the 1960 film of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, and by Viewmaster 3D reels. In the 1970s I was working on super 8 film, dance and performance art, and bicycling. I became focused on the rhythms of reels and wheels, cycles and circles, speed and spinning. I imagined that films can represent time-travel, so 3-dimensional films can represent a 4-dimensional world.
In the 1980s I began my Scanning series of silent, super 8 film performances in which i project moving, 360-degree panoramas around the walls of a gallery using a hand-held projector. I also began writing and illustrating articles, and making super 8 sound films, telling histories of my family and my film community. But during many "show & tell" presentations I talked more about my filmmaking process than about my subjects.
In the late 1990s Kodak stopped making its super 8 sound film stock, which seemed to threaten the continuation of my story-telling sound films. But that time also saw a revival of super 8 film performance artists in Toronto, including Peggy Anne Berton who, during her Peggy Anne's Beat Super 8 Soliloquies, narrates live the stories of the people and events in her many, silent, super 8 films. She performed them often and I attended them many times, drawing inspiration to try my own live narration of silent films made for the purpose. In 1999 I received a Canada Council for the Arts grant in Interdisciplinary & Performance Art to produce two related projects - Film Busking in which I use the hand-held projector to show my films on the street, and a new, long Scanning for the gallery.
For this Scanning series I have shot panoramas of locations relevant to my film community or family history. I have shot around Toronto, Ottawa, Peterborough, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Peggy's Cove, Moncton, Fredericton, Sackville (New Brunswick), Buffalo and Rochester. It will continue to expand, and I can adapt each performance to the location in which it is performed. My Sackville Scanning was produced with my later performance their in mind, and when that performance was coincidentally scheduled for November 11 - Remembrance Day - I thought to title this entire series of historical, circular panoramas, Remember Rings. (see )