b. September 16, 1963, Bend,
Ben Speth lives and works in Melbourne,
He grew up
in NYC, worked with Paul Morrissey, Yvonne Rainer, Stuart Sherman,
Tere O'Connor and John Jasperse among others. Has done Lighting
and set design for various artists at P.S.122, Movement Research
and The Dia Foundation.
Worked as director of photography on music
videos (The Ramones, David Lee Roth, Ricky Martin, Everything
But The Girl), documentaries (Paris Is Burning, Treyf,
Trembling Before G_d, My Friend Paul) and feature
films (The Delta, Junk).
Moved to Melbourne, 2000;
worked with Jenny Kemp (Still Angela), Margie Medlin, (Elasticity
and Volume, Mobility in an Artificial City), Ros Warby
(Solos, Swift, Monumental), Shelley Lasica
(History Situation), Scott Rankin (Ngapartji Ngapartji),
Lyndal Jones (The Avoca Project) and Ross Gibson (Shadowlands).
feature film as writer/director/d.o.p., dresden (1999)
was licensed by the Showtime Network and was shown at the Sundance,
Belfort, Mar del Plata, New York Underground and Brisbane film
festivals, among others. In 2002 he was commissioned by the Australian
Centre for the Moving Image to make a silent work entitled dummy.
His second feature film, Forever, was part of the ACMI/NGV
show 2004: A Survey of Recent Australian Visual Culture. In 2005
he completed Satellite, a feature film that premiered the
same year at the 53rd Melbourne International Film Festival.
I used to paint, I've made films and
now I'm thinking more and more about live performance; there are
so many images these days, a living breathing person performing
has more resonance.... I do these things because I'm trying to
make sense of myself and the world around me.
In an interview
with David Sylvester, Francis Bacon spoke of the difficulty of
putting several figures in a picture without telling a story.
He did not
want to tell a story - photography and film were already doing
that - he was interested in a 'psychical impact.' One can see
the results of similar pursuits - utilizing different means and
materials - in Rauschenberg's combines and in the durational films
of Andy Warhol. Rauschenberg did it by mixing and aestheticising
objects, garbage and paint, seemingly disparate elements into
an affective whole.
it with time and film and later video asking the viewer to sit
and look and think.
James Agee on Walker Evens, 'who are you who will study these
images, what is your responsibility for them and what will you
do about them?' I do not know that these concerns crossed the
minds of the above artists but while looking at their work it
crossed mine. While not overtly political, there is an ethical
foundation to my practice.
1984 I have worked in the film industry, for most of that time
as a cinematographer. It is not without some exasperation that
I relate, that as a professional cinematographer, most of my pre-production
and on-set conversations with directors, producers and performers
have been about maximizing budgets and 'solving 'problems' and
not about the aesthetic or ethical possibilities of the form.
solely because it was air conditioned, I wandered into a Chinatown
movie theatre and saw Ashes of Time by Wong Kar-wai. I
was enthralled. It was as if all the materialist vitality of the
New Wave had been re-directed from overtly political to personal
ends; this was not managing money or problem solving, this was
of Time is why I put down my brushes and decided to make films:
To explore the ethical, material and metaphoric possibilities
of the medium.
(1994, 57 mins, Digital Beta, Documentary)
by Michael Sean Edwards
(1999, 82 mins, 16mm, Drama/Documentary)
1 (2001, 57 mins, Digital Beta, Documentary)
(2002, DVD video installation)
(2004, 75 mins, Digital Beta, Drama/Documentary)
(2005, 82 mins, Digital Beta, Drama/Documentary)
(2006, 22 min, Digital Beta, Documentary)