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MCA Live: STRESS/DE-STRESS (rescheduled!)

January 1, 1970 at 3pm


Chicago Film Archives and Nightingale Cinema  join forces to re-mount STRESS/DE-STRESS, a guided meditation and expanded cinema event first held at the Nightingale in July of 2012. Amateur and industrial films from Chicago Film Archives come alive through a three projector performance set to the words of Mairead Case & Ed Crouse and sounds of Joshua Dumas.

Also screening will be WRECKED  (2013, color/sound, 16mm projector performance, 8 minutes) by Ian Curry.

Assisted by CFA, Nightingale Cinema’s Chirsty LeMaster dug through CFA’s vault to create a systematic three-projector program of soothing and relaxing images inspired by guided mediations. The images come from unexpected places. At times bustling images of downtown Chicago are paired with glimmering microscopic crystals and time-lapse photography of blooming flowers. These unlikely pairings create a relaxing environment to sit back and be guided by the words of Ms. Case and Mr. Crouse (who’d like to thank Claudia Rankine, Jamie Stewart, Richard Hugo, Dorthea Lasky, Naomi Shahib Nye, and Julian of Norwich for their script inspiration).

Throughout the program, images are re-purposed. The reels we have chosen were mostly not made as art, but rather as documents- films made as tests, tools, travelogues, or diaries. And we think their incidental-ness is beautiful. These frames keep the tiny things we can’t always glean from other modes of institutional remembering: the shades of cars on a sunny day in the 1950’s, what flowers populated Garfield Park in the 70’s, the changing shape of the skyline as The Equitable Building was built downtown. There is a lot of gorgeous historical minutia about to pass your retinas.

This program is tricky; the celluloid is precious. Most of these films are the only copies known in existence. This is not how it is usually done at all and our projectionists (Chloe McLaren, Doug McLaren and Anne Wells) are total pros at it.

This is not meant to be an actual guided meditation; we don’t have that kind of training. But we do think cinema can create a transcendental space for your mind to stretch out a bit, to practice a different, more embodied state of watching. We hope it goes well for you. You deserve a break. We all do.



Hans Graff “Super Editor,” 1959, Rhodes Patterson, Rhodes Patterson Collection
A hypnotic look at Hans Graff (1921-1990) hard at work in his Chicago near-north studio, Cine-Graff Motion Picture Service. Hans was a film editor and producer who specialized in industrial films. He worked as an editor for such television shows as “Zoo Parade” and “Wild Kingdom.”

Popcorn, circa 1953, Jack Behrend, Jack Behrend Collection
Slow motion footage of corn kernels transforming into everyone’s favorite cinematic treat. 

Babbit Reserve Mining Blast, 1961, Jack Behrend, Jack Behrend Collection
Originally produced as a sponsored film for the Reserve Mining Corporation, Babbit Blast has only recently been re-contextualized as an experimental film. The film’s slow motion explosion (10,000 frames/second!) has meditative qualities that at times resemble a far-distant nebula coming into existence via supernova explosion.

Secrets of Nature, 1951, Nature’s Wonderland series, Margaret Conneely Collection
Part of the Nature’s Wonderland Series, this short film celebrates the work of Dr. John Ott, the “father of photobiology,” at work inside his green house studio located behind his Chicago suburban home. Mr. Ott helped develop and popularize time-lapse photography and full spectrum lighting. His experiments with different colored lighting systems and their effects on the health of plants eventually led to experiments with colored lights on the health of animals and humans, using time-lapse micro-photography.

Wheels Across America, 1968, Julian Gromer, Julian Gromer Collection
Part 2/2 of an edited travelogue following young men on a bicycle trip cross-country (San Francisco to New York City!) with Wandering Wheels, a faith based organization. Elgin resident and filmmaker, Julian Gromer (1907-1986), spliced cinematic experiments from his home studio with footage from the trip….including microscopic crystal growth (aka micrographs) and John Ott inspired plant movement.

Flower Conservatory, 1970s, Harry Mantel, Harry Mantel Collection
Chicago cameraman, producer, and journalist Harry Mantel (1923-2007) leads us on a journey through Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory – an oasis for city dwellers at any time of year. This is one of many short spots, or “vignettes,” made by Mantel for the Chicago-based Encyclopedia Britannica.

Churchville, VA: Skyline Drive – Buckhorn Inn, 1980s, Jack Behrend, Jack Behrend Collection
Unedited footage of a sleepy Shenandoah National Park shot by Chicago industrial filmmaker, Jack Behrend. This reel is one of thirteen related to an un-finished documentary on historical inns of America.

Marina City, 1961, Rhodes Patterson, Rhodes Patterson Collection
A cloudy vantage point of Chicago’s skyline shot by industrial filmmaker and ad-man, Rhodes Patterson.

Equitable Building- Time Lapse, circa 1962, Jack Behrend, Jack Behrend Collection
Continuous time-lapse sequence depicting Chicago’s Equitable Building coming into existence. Jack Behrend shot the sequence from a fixed perspective at 333 N. Michigan Ave.

Chicago Lake Front – Grant Park – Inland Steel Reflections, 1957, Rhodes Patterson, Rhodes Patterson Collection
Lazy afternoon footage of downtown Chicago shot by Container Corporation of America employee, Rhodes Patterson. 

Chicago Architecture, 1973, Rhodes Patterson, Rhodes Patterson Collection
Rhodes Patterson’s penthouse view of a Chicago skyline in transition.

Michigan Avenue, 1962, Rhodes Patterson, Rhodes Patterson Collection
Chicago pedestrians calmly walk along Michigan Avenue. Shot, once again, by Rhodes Patterson who enjoyed shooting city life while working downtown for the Walter Paepcke-lead Container Corporation. 

Spectacular World of Science and Medicine Through Cinematography, 1975, Margaret Conneely as Cinematographer, Produced by Loyola University Medical Center , Margaret Conneely Collection
Sponsored film that explores science and medicine through cinematography microphotography and medical photography. Glimmering micrographs appear to contain every color of the rainbow.


Mairead Case is a Chicago writer. She is an editor at The Chicagoan, YETI, and featherproof books; co-programmer at Printers’ Ball and the Pitchfork Festival BOOK FORT; and Volunteer Director at Louder Than a Bomb. Mairead has taught writing workshops at the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Chicago Public Libraries, Scribes at Hugo House, the South Bend Juvenile Justice Center, and currently at StoryStudio.

Edward Crouse is a Sagittarius whose writing has appeared in Film Comment, The Village Voice, Cinema Scope, and Sight & Sound. His interest in meditation was sparked after seeing Donovan at Anthology Film Archives.

Joshua Dumas is an artist, composer, and writer in Chicago. He is a New Beast Theatre Works company member, is in the Vintage Theater Collective, and he co-founded the street performance troupe the Summer is for Fireflies. He recently cowrote and composed the semi-opera Here Are Lions, scored Jerzy Rose’s feature film Some Girls Never Learn, and co-directed and composed Mirrors Are Just Water Specified, a dancefilm based on the photography of Francesca Woodman.

Christy LeMaster is the  Director of The Nightingale (, a microcinema located in Noble Square. She has programmed screenings for Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Film Forum, The Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, and The Chicago Underground Film Festival. She teaches at Columbia College in The Interactive Arts and Media Department and is currently curating projects with The Chicago Film Archive and Intuit Gallery. 

Chloe McLaren has been a projectionist for about a decade. She has studied art, gender studies, anthropology and library science. Currently she works at the University of Chicago, where she trains projectionists and handles a moving image collection.

Douglas McLaren received a Master’s degree in Film Preservation from the George Eastman House and the University of Rochester. He is currently the head projectionist and repertory film programmer for the Music Box Theatre.

Anne Wells is Collections Manager at Chicago Film Archives, where she has worked the past six years in various shapes and forms.

many many words borrowed from Nightingale Cinema


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