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Plastic Haircut

What’s It All Mean: Films by William T. Wiley and Friends

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
7:30 p.m. Films by Wiley and Friends
(U.S., 1963–71)

William T. Wiley in Person

“None of us knew anything about making movies, but we all knew about art (namely that it had something to do with having a good time),” Robert Nelson asserted in regards to Plastic Haircut. Featuring geometric sets designed by Wiley and Robert Hudson, a sound collage by Steve Reich, and improvisations by San Francisco Mime Troupe founder R. G. Davis, Plastic Haircut has a freewheeling Dada spirit and striking abstract visuals. At the close of the film, Davis interviews Nelson about what it all means, a playful conversation that has a relationship to Nelson and Wiley’s voice-over banter in the later Bleu Shut. Featuring “a boat game and entertainments,” Bleu Shut invites audience participation while confounding expectations and playing with cinematic time. Wiley’s conceptually based, elegant Man’s Nature was inspired by Michael Snow’s Wavelength, and is concerned with our reception of images and sounds and the meaning we create from them.

—Kathy Geritz

Plastic Haircut (Robert Nelson, 1963, Sound collage by Steve Reich, Set design by William T. Wiley, Robert Hudson, With R. D. Davis, 15 mins, B&W). Man’s Nature (William T. Wiley, 1971, 30 mins, Color/B&W). Bleu Shut (Robert Nelson, 1970, Soundtrack by Nelson, William T. Wiley, Diane Nelson, Music by Blue Crumb Truck, 33 mins, Color)

• (Total running time: 75 mins, 16mm, PFA Collection)