Hollis Frampton

Maxwell’s Demon (1968)

Hollis Framptonʼs short film is a classic of experimental cinema. Frampton, a student of Ezra Pound, was fascinated by physical metaphors, including James Clerk Maxwell’s famous thermodynamic thought experiment. By separating fast and slow gas molecules in a container, Maxwellʼs imaginary demon heats one half of it and cools the other, so that a heat engine could use this temperature difference to run forever. Frampton’s film enacts this endless motion, showing footage of a man doing push-ups over and over again.

Hollis Frampton (1936, Wooster, OH, United States–1984, Buffalo, NY, United States) was an avant-garde filmmaker, photographer, poet, and art theorist, best known for his structural films from the 1960s and 1970s. In works such as Zorns Lemma (1970), Nostalgia (1971), and Critical Mass (1971), he combines found footage, photography, voice-overs, and time-based effects to explore the materiality of film and the relationship between sound, image, and language. Frampton had a keen interest in science and math and was also a pioneer of computer-generated imagery and video synthesis.

Video, 3:44 min.

Villa Perpetuum Mobile
Group exhibition