Films & Schedules

  • WAVELENGTHS 6 (When It Was Blue)


Vanessa O'Neill
USA, 2008/Silent
10 minutes
/Black and White and Colour/16mm

When it was Blue

Jennifer Reeves
USA/Iceland, 2008
67 minutes
/Black and White and Colour/Dual 16mm

Monday September 0809:00PM JACKMAN HALL - AGO Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

This year’s edition of Wavelengths wraps up in pairs: two double 16mm overlapping projections united in their study of colour, subject and form. Vanessa O’Neill’s Suspension and Jennifer Reeves’s When It Was Blue are nevertheless wildly different projects, complementing each other through juxtapositions of silence and live sound, as well as minimal and abstract multi-layered imagery. Both lead to extreme peripheries, yet in divergent directions. 

Suspension is composed of a roll of black-and-white film and a toned roll, resulting in a diaphanous blue creation with seemingly endless hue gradations. As the film progresses, subtle tonal shifts in the image – of a serene waterscape – recall the delicate refinement of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascape photographs, where sky and water blend in a seamless, elemental expression that transcends its own composition. As an increasing abstraction and a pulsating, receding movement take over, a hovering ray of colour bisects the image, creating two immersive canvases enlivened by the scintillating grain of film and shimmering light. Silent and modest in its means, Suspension is a commanding work of art with a fleeting evanescence. 

When It Was Blue was initially shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 2005. Several residencies and finishing grants enabled Reeves to re-edit the original material and to shoot, optically print and paint additional footage. The result is the completion of a formidable three-and-a-half-year collaboration with composer-musician Skúli Sverrisson. Epic in many ways, When It Was Blue not only reprises themes characteristic to Reeves’s prolific output – most notably that of natural ecosystems – but also substantially expands her impressive 16mm visual repertoire in a virtuosic display of luminescent overlapping imagery. Her printing and painting techniques transform a forest into otherworldly delights in a rigorous play of perspective and dimension. Stencils and silhouettes of recognizable images are reconfigured to suggest an all-consuming wilderness that is redolent of both revelation and threatened disappearance. In what promises to be an astonishing event, When It Was Blue will be presented live, with Reeves projecting the film and Sverrisson performing the soundtrack. 

Andréa Picard 


Vanessa O’Neill is a filmmaker, painter and photographer. Originally from Brooklyn, she currently resides in San Francisco, where she completed an M.F.A. at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her films include August (07), burren (07), Sanctuary (08) and Suspension (08). 

Jennifer Reeves is a New York-based filmmaker working primarily on 16mm. In 2007, she performed her double-projection films Light Work Mood Disorder (06) and He Walked Away (03) at several film festivals and museums, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg. When It Was Blue (08) is her latest work. 

Skúli Sverrisson was born in Reykjavík and is an internationally acclaimed musician. He has been the music director for renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson for the past two years.

Cadillac People's Choice Award