Well, I have finally sufficiently swallowed my pride enough to put the one lousy copy of Boc Ging up on YouTube. Compared to the quality of digital videography today, the 1968 film I made with Ben Van Meter in Bolinas, CA looks pretty clumsy and very dated.
It is 11 minutes long despite the 36 minutes listed on the YouTube page. I think the extra 25 minutes of nothing were created by the technician who prepared the DVD for me. Being a fan of nothing, I actually kind of like what happened.
I think that the film does capture the spirit of those times and I hope you find it interesting. The script is based on a book I made titled: The Book I Always Reach for But Never Find, by Boc Ging. I thought of it as a spiritual autobiography.
At the age of eleven, I was convinced I could not possibly be Robert William Comings. It sounded so plain. So I scrambled the letters of my full name and somehow came up with Boc Ging. I have no idea where that second G came from.
I am the sole actor in the film. I produced all the sounds via my handmade acoustic instruments, my voice, and my collection of homemade quarter-inch tape loops. Ben did a lot of in-camera edits and both of us co-edited the master print. The film was shot on the mesa in Bolinas, CA. It was distributed by Canyon Cinema in Berkeley, CA.
All the 2D and 3D works you see in the film were what I was making at the time and most were exhibited at Joyce and Arnold Bernhard’s Unicorn Gallery in San Francisco in two solo shows I had there in 1968 and in 1970. This film was shown at the 1970 Unicorn exhibit. [Art history note: The Unicorn Gallery occupied the same flat on Fillmore St. in which Jay de Feo painted her monumental piece The Rose. It was so big and heavy, a crane had to be used to get it out of the flat.]
There is one long section of the film that Ben and I painted by hand with strips of the film hanging in the wind in the backyard of his downtown Bolinas backyard.
While I am a bit embarrassed by the quality of the film, it is fun to tell people that the only two remaining 16mm color prints are in the Avant Garde section of the Archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood.
This copy of the film was made by the film restoration technician at the Academy as a trade to get me to donate my print of the film to their Archives.
For more info and images from the 1960s I recommend visiting Ben’s superlong webpage: http://www.benvanmeter.net/#Unfit
There you can purchase a DVD that includes all his other films.
I first learned of this film from Seymour Locks in the early eighties. Later you told me it had been placed in the Archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. By then I was completely intrigued and really wanted to view it. So I am more than thrilled that you posted it to YouTube. I must say I have not been disappointed, it’s a wonderful film. Not only does it capture the spirit of the times in which is was made, it has a quality that film makers today, with all their modern technology, would be hard pressed to achieve.
I have a strong memory of Seymour sitting on a couch in the Unicorn Gallery the night I showed the film in 1968. I had forgotten that until I read your comment. Thanks. I am very amused by the 25 minutes of nothing that were appended to this version of the film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
I remember how good it looked in 16mm. I think it is great to mine the stuff one has done in the past, back in the day, a long time ago in1968. I certainly did in The Art of the Mandala. You are 73 and people should know what you have done! I saw a lot of the beginnings of the animation you are doing now. A film like Boc Ging may look crude today against the slick stuff technology has developed, but your creative spark is what is more important. Thanks for bringing it back.
Thanks so much for the encouragement. It is fun to break out the memorabilia and share what we were doing almost 50 years ago.
It was wonderful to see this, Bob! It’s like going back in time, but it also seems so fresh still, like a freshness I haven’t seen much of for a good long time. Ah, there it is! I love it.
Thanks! I find myself now wanting to photograph and upload images of all four of the NFMOA triptychs: 44 linear feet of 7-foot tall decalcomania paintings. While they are given a bit of exposure in the nadafarm site, I want all of them to be viewable. I am also thinking that once I have them documented I will be free to take them off their stretchers and store/giveaway/destroy them. I am also planning to scan some of the pages in “The Book I Always Reach for but Never Find by Boc Ging.” These will be linked to the film since they were the script. Might make for some fun glancing.
Noooooo! Uploading images is great, but not the destroy part. Are you kidding? Anything that reaches a destroy possibility, please send to me and I’ll pay you. But I know more people need to see those works.
Thanks for the offer re: not-destroying. Every summer I hope to photograph the 4 triptychs… but come every fall they remain un-recorded. One of these years…. Once they are photo-documented, I will be free to consider how to unencumber myself. I will keep your offer in mind should I ever get that far. Thanks.
Fred Smith says,
WOW Bob – What a brilliant experimental film! Its so jam-packed with artful images, visual and audio jewels, cosmic insights and trippy consciousness. A genuine arty-fact of the historic 60’s. I’m forwarding it to lots of friends who will savor and enjoy it. Thanks for making it available.
Bob,the film was part of the time,but took me back to the first movies….only it had so much more details and was much more interesting,loved the toys ,imagery and most of all the music