Vancouver experimental filmmaker, David Rimmer is one of Canada’s best-known and most internationally acclaimed film artists. His films, uniquely subtle and meditative, explore both the quality of human perception and the nature of film as an aesthetic and communicative medium, often metaphorically.

Rimmer, who emerged as a young visionary in the late ’60s with Square Inch Field (1968) and Migration (1969), two films the film critic Tony Reif described as celebrating “the interconnectedness of all things,” has assembled a remarkable body of films that force the spectator to share in the exploratory experience. Anvil Press has just released Loop, Print, Fade + Flicker, the first in the Pacific Cinémathèque’s Monograph Series (initiated to explore the contributions of Western Canadian filmmakers, video makers, and fringe media artists), which focuses on the work of David Rimmer. Mike Hoolboom’s essay provides context, while Alex MacKenzie’s interview offers a revealing look at one of Canada’s most influential, poetic and visionary filmmakers.

For Rimmer, film is a way of seeing, and right from the outset he was seeing the film medium and its subjects with radically “new” eyes. His films of the early ’70s – Surfacing on the Thames (1970), Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper (1970), The Dance (1970) and Seashore (1971) — incorporated anonymous stock footage and took structural film in new directions. His films Canadian Pacific (1974) and Canadian Pacific II (1975), announced him as one of the world’s foremost cinematic artists. His film Bricolage (1984), established him as a master of the collage aesthetic. Rimmer also experimented with video in the ’80s and his most compelling work of this period – As Seen on TV (1986) and Divine Mannequin (1989) — represented a radical hybridization of video and film.

Rimmer’s more recent films — Black Cat White Cat It’s a Good Cat if it Catches the Mouse (1989) and Local Knowledge (1992) — offer a striking mix of documentary and diary, as well as further exploration of themes and ideas that are evident in his earlier work. If you’ve never seen one of Rimmer’s films you’re missing a truly eye-opening and mind-expanding experience. Viewing one of his films may forever change the way you experience film – and reality. And while it’s difficult to cite any one of them as central or emblematic of his work as a whole, you’ll really get a feel for it with something like Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper, which has been described as “a painting floating through time,” with its disappearing and reappearing subject.

Anvil Press, film/video artist Mike Hoolboom and media artist Alex MacKenzie must be commended for producing this attractive and compact book, which gives one of the bright lights and true innovators in Canadian art much needed exposure. Before there was even the awareness of a filmmaking culture in Canada Rimmer was shattering the rules as they were being made.

David Rimmer’s Moving Images
Mike Hoolbloom and Alex Mackenzie
Anvil Press
106 pages