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Paul Winkler

Author 
Andrew Frost

Paul Winkler was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1939.  He immigrated to Australia in 1959 and began making experimental short films in 1962. Initially using 8mm cameras and editing technology for early works Winkler progressed to a Bolex 16mm camera to produce his films. He was associated with Corinne and Arthur Cantrill,Albie Thoms and David Perry in pioneering local experimental film production in the 1960s. 

 Noted for their rigour and exacting visual construction, Winkler’s long sequence of experimental films that began with Mood [1964], Isolated [1967] and Red & Green [1968], and include recent works such as Many Buddhas [2008], Drums & Trains [2009] and Shooting Arrows [2011], are evidence of a life-long fascination with colour, texture, the malleability of a single film frame into multiple images – either in the manner of a collage or divided by geometric patterns and lines – and the synesthetic effects of music matched with abstract or fragmented imagery. 

The material nature of film itself is highlighted in Winkler’s oeuvre as the process is largely intuitive. “Filmmaking has always been a journey into the unknown for me,” Winkler has said. “Each new film demands its own trajectory. I might start with a particular idea and than after the first 100 feet of exposed film comes back, the imagines tell me which way to go or not to go. 
There is always a kind of pull between me and the material photographed, something opens up. If everything works out fine and the imagines connect to me and I can almost hear the sound they want, it is one hell of elation running through jour body and mind, unbelievable. 
To sum up - my approach to filmmaking is primarily an organic one. The films are a synthesis of the intellect and emotion all filtered through the plastic material of film. I try to let imagines flow freely to the surface" [artfilms.com.au].

Key films by Winkler include Chants [1974/5], Brick Wall [1975] and Sydney Harbour Bridge [1977], short experimental films that presented the viewer with a rich visual field even when, as in the case of the brick wall being laid in the film of that title, the ‘view’ was slowly denied, or where Sydney Harbour Bridge was presented as a fragmented geometric abstraction. Later works such as Time Out For Sport [1996] explored the associative power of image and text in a deconstruction of a sports newsreel from the 1960s.

Writing in response to his work on the occasion of a retrospective of Winkler’s films staged at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1995, filmmaker and artist Dirk De Bruyn observed that “In his films Winkler is meticulously transposing rules of architectural construction into the building of a visual artifice. These films are like ephemeral pyramids. They are like monuments that we are at time permitted to enter. What lies buried within the inner chamber of a Winkler film is the sarcophagus of Technique itself. For those entering there are innumerable pitfalls lying in wait for the unwary weaned on the warm milk of mainstream cinema” [De Bruyn, A Bridge Seldom Crossed, Metro Magazine].

Winkler’s films have been screened extensively in Australia and internationally since the 1960s and have won a number of awards including a Gold Award for Best Experimental Film in 1977 for Sydney Harbour Bridge and a Silver Award for Bondi in 1979, both at the Australian Film Awards. Time Out For Sport was awarded a Best Editing award at the Ann Arbour Film Festival in the US in in 1996 and Rotation [1998] was awarded a Directors Choice Award, Black Maria Film & Video Festival, Jersey City.

Date 
b. 1939
Birth place
Germany

Lives and works

Sydney
Australia
Related organisations
Selected works
Selected events
Time Out For Sports [Excerpt]
Time Out For Sports [Excerpt], – via YouTube 
Rotation [Excerpt]
Rotation [Excerpt], – via YouTube 
Bondi [Excerpt]
Bondi [Excerpt], – via YouTube 
Ayers Rock [Excerpt]
Ayers Rock [Excerpt], – via YouTube 
From Long Shadows, via d'archive
From Long Shadows, via d'archive – from Long Shadows, via d/Archive