Bill Morrison

Bill Morrison, Decasia

67 minutes, black and white, silent with music, 35mm

USA 2002


Decasia is entirely constructed from footage [...]. The film brings together mere snippets as well as lengthy sequences of feature films, ethnographic documents, wildlife footage, old newsreels, test and medical film and other samples from the repositories of our cinematically documented past. [...] The task of creating a meaningful whole from fragments is approached with particular acuity in Decasia. Here each image is a fragment: blisters, bubbles, scratches, spots, blotches or the effects of solarization obscure and distort almost every single frame of the film. At times these distortions are all that remains of the image. They are not traces of artistic manipulation of the material, but features that bear testimony to its chemical dissolution: all of Morrison’s selected footage is shot on pre-1950 celluloid nitrate base, and thus a highly volatile chemical medium. [...] Decasia shows this on-going disintegration in full and graphic detail.“ (Böser 2007: 306–307)


Bill Morrison, born 1965, lives and works in New York, USA.


Ursula Böser, “Inscriptions of Light and the ‘Calligraphy of Decay’: Volatile Representation in Bill Morrison’s Decasia,” in Avant-Garde Film, eds. Alexander Graf and Dietrich Scheunemann (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2007), pp. 305–320.

Giuliana Bruno, Surface. Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

Nicholas Chare and Liz Watkins, “The Material of Film: Decasia and Lyrical Nitrate,” in Carnal Knowledge. Towards a „New Materialism” through the Arts, eds. Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt (London: Tauris, 2013), pp. 75–87.

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