Self-financed and run by a group of artists whose varied backgrounds include other artistic practices such as music, poetry and visual art, the Double Negative Collective has been active, since its inception in 2004, in the exhibition and production of experimental cinema in Montreal, Canada. Located in the heart of Mile-End, their studio has 16mm and 35mm Steenbecks, 16mm optical and contact printers, Super-8 and 16mm projectors, and other analogue film equipment. Besides giving assistance to local filmmakers, the Double Negative Collective regularly organizes experimental film screenings, performances and artist talks in venues such as Cinéma Parallèle at Ex-Centris, the Cinémathèque québecoise and la Sala Rossa, and often collaborates with Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, as well as other organizations and collectives.
The palliative tendencies of conventional cinema configure audience as patient, filmmaker as pharmacist. The viewer arrives, wearily, with his prescription, ready for the cure. The pharmacist officiates, moralizes on proper usage and dosage, translates the cryptic scribbles. He reminds the patient to get plenty of sleep.
The pharmacist keeps regular hours, closed on Sundays.
The alchemist has no such customers, or concerns. The alchemist looks for the illumination of base objects; she communicates telepathically with other practitioners; she wakes late in the day, wondering, “did I really?” remembering the brief, dark glow cast against the laboratory wall.
With the common goal of exploration in moving images, 12 Montreal-based artists have conspired to become the Double Negative Collective.
We find ourselves in the role of alchemist: we promote accidents, discoveries, failures; processes that lead into unknown landscapes; the fleeting tangibility of mystical and transformative forces; the begetting of delicate, precious objects in the dark.
We locate cinema in human experience, in the eye, hand and heartbeat, not in the worn-out tropes that pass for meaning and feeling in conventional moviemaking.
We find mystery in processes: in materials, in ideas and in the world. The untutored, discovering camera is the prism we have found to draw these forces together.
We are choosing, through experiments in form, voice and vision, to initiate a dialogue long-neglected in the independent artist-based filmmaking community: a benevolent conspiracy of ideas. For this, we have gone back to the roots of the media of film and video to ask questions and seek answers.
We provide no prescription for what film ought to be, but elucidate what it is: impossible pasts and futures in a trajectory of unraveling present, images pausing and passing from somewhere up there, in the back of the head.
– DOUBLE NEGATIVE COLLECTIVE, 2004