Reduction Print

Gibson + Recoder

Gibson + Recoder, Reduction Print

Modified 16mm projector, film, sculpting tool, hardware

USA 2014


"A 'reduction print' is the print of a film that has been transferred from its original support to a narrower film strip. The term reacts to the standards and limitations of industrial distribution and presentation that became the norm in the US around 1910. Historically, the most common form of the reduction print is the 16mm version of a film that was originally shot and distributed on 35. In the mid 1920s, soon after the successful introduction of this sub-standard, the transfer to 16mm not only followed the profit-driven logic of being able to supply smaller cinemas with prints. It also held the promise that films could now be shown at other locations and in other contexts than the movie theater – in schools or barracks, but also in everybody’s cozy living room.

Reduction Print is also the title of a work by Luis Recoder and Sandra Gibson. It consists of a 16mm projector that holds the first reel of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, made in 1972 by Mel Stuart. However, the reels do not move. Just like the projected image, they stand still and remain immobile for the duration of the show. Under normal circumstances, the film strip would melt in the heat of the projector’s lamp, but this apparatus is a so called 'analytical projector' which allows the continuous deceleration, and even the complete interlocking of the image. And yet the actual punch line of the work is the miniatuarized presentation format. Just like its material support, the film print, the projected image has the gauge of exactly 16mm. Moreover, it is not projected onto a screen, but, as specified in the description, onto a 'sculpting tool' that is conventionally used to shape stone or clay.

Now what happens in this simple operation? Let me stress two aspects that are, I think, paradigmatic for Gibson’s and Recoder’s work. First, compared to the usual cinema situation, the projector quite radically changes its character. Transported from the darkness of the projection booth into the white cube of the gallery, it shifts from an invisible tool that effaces itself in a smooth and unnoticed act of image production, to an exhibit with sculptural qualities. This impression is emphasized by the choice of the sculpting tool as the site of projected image. On a second level, Reduction Print is the result of understanding (or misunderstanding) a standard of film technology literally: 'The micro-cinematic gauge is projected on a scale that stages the literalization of the miniature format,' Gibson and Recoder write in an accompanying statement. What is performed, then, is the purposeful mix-up of material support and projected image. This form of 'literalism' gives an ironic twist to the projective power of the apparatus by replacing monumentalization with miniaturization." (Pantenberg 2016: 2-3)


Sandra Gibson (born 1968) and Luis Recoder (born 1971), live and work in New York, USA.


Volker Pantenberg, “Aggregate States of the Moving Image.” A lecture presentation delivered during “Workshop #2: Re-Mediating Cinematic Experience” for the research project A Matter of Historicity: Material Practices in Audiovisual Art (Vienna, Austria, October 7, 2016).

Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder, Celluloid: Tacita Dean, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Rosa Barba, Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder, eds. Marente Bloemheuvel and Jaap Guldemond (Amsterdam: EYE Filmmuseum, nai010 publishers, 2016), p. 118.

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