Jump to content



Rhodes Patterson, stills from Chicago Lake Front Grant Park–Inland Steel Reflections, 1957, and ChicagoArchitecture, 1973

Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives


In collaboration with Chicago Film Archives and Nightingale Cinema, the MCA presents Stress/De-Stress, a night of expanded cinema and guided meditation. Amateur and industrial films come alive through a three projector performance set to a live reading by Chicago-based writers Mairead Case and Ed Crouse, and the music of Joshua Dumas.

Assisted by Chicago Film Archives, Nightingale Cinema’s Chirsty LeMaster dug through CFA’s vault to create a systematic three-projector program of soothing and relaxing images inspired by guided meditations. The images come from unexpected places. At times bustling images of downtown Chicago are paired with glimmering microscopic crystals and time-lapse photography of blooming flowers. These unlikely pairings create a relaxing environment to sit back and be guided by the words of Case and Crouse.

The program opens with a live, 16 mm film performance by artist Ian Curry, whose work focuses on manipulating film through experimental processes and designed apparatuses for presentation.

Julian Gromer, still from Wheels Across America, 1968

Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives


Stress/De-Stress includes footage from the following films:

  • Rhodes Patterson, Hans Graff "Super Editor" (1959) 
  • Rhodes Patterson Collection

A hypnotic look at Hans Graff (1921–1990) hard at work in his Chicago near-north studio, Cine-Graff Motion Picture Service. Hans was a film editor and producer who specialized in industrial films. He worked as an editor for such television shows as Zoo Parade and Wild Kingdom.

  • Jack Behrend, Popcorn (c. 1953)
  • Jack Behrend Collection

Slow-motion footage of corn kernels transforming into everyone’s favorite cinematic treat.

  • Jack Behrend, Babbit Reserve Mining Blast(1961)
  • Jack Behrend Collection

Originally produced as a sponsored film for the Reserve Mining Corporation, Babbit Blast has only recently been re-contextualized as an experimental film. The film's slow motion explosion (10,000 frames/second) has meditative qualities that at times resemble a far-distant nebula coming into existence via supernova explosion.

  • Nature’s Wonderland: Secrets of Nature (1951)
  • Margaret Conneely Collection

Part of the Nature's Wonderland series, this short film celebrates the work of Dr. John Ott, the "father of photobiology," at work inside his green house studio located behind his Chicago suburban home. Dr. Ott helped develop and popularize time-lapse photography and full spectrum lighting. His experiments with different colored lighting systems and their effects on the health of plants eventually led to experiments with colored lights on the health of animals and humans, using time-lapse micro-photography.

  • Julian Gromer, Wheels Across America(1968)
  • Julian Gromer Collection

Part 2/2 of an edited travelogue following young men on a bicycle trip cross-country (San Francisco to New York City) with Wandering Wheels, a faith-based organization. Elgin resident and filmmaker, Julian Gromer (1907–1986), spliced cinematic experiments from his home studio with footage from the trip—including microscopic crystal growth {bio: (aka micrographs) and John Ott–inspired plant movement.

  • Harry Mantel, Flower Conservatory (1970s)
  • Harry Mantel Collection

Chicago cameraman, producer, and journalist Harry Mantel (1923–2007)} leads us on a journey through Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory ­ an oasis for city dwellers at any time of year. This is one of many short spots, or vignettes, made by Mantel for the Chicago-based Encyclopedia Britannica.

  • Jack Behrend, Churchville, VA: Skyline Drive­ Buckhorn Inn {bio: (c. 1980s)
  • Jack Behrend Collection

Unedited footage of a sleepy Shenandoah National Park shot by Chicago industrial filmmaker, Jack Behrend. This reel is one of thirteen related to an un-finished documentary on historical inns of America.

  • Rhodes Patterson, Marina City (1961)}
  • Rhodes Patterson Collection

A cloudy vantage point of Chicago’s skyline shot by industrial filmmaker and ad-man, Rhodes Patterson.

  • Jack Behrend, Equitable Building–Time Lapse (c. 1962)
  • Jack Behrend Collection

Continuous time-lapse sequence depicting Chicago’s Equitable Building coming into existence. Jack Behrend shot the sequence from a fixed perspective at 333 N. Michigan Ave.

  • Rhodes Patterson, Chicago Lake Front,­ Grant Park­ Inland Steel Reflections (1957)
  • Rhodes Patterson Collection

Lazy afternoon footage of downtown Chicago shot by Container Corporation of America employee, Rhodes Patterson.

  • Rhodes Patterson, Chicago Architecture (1973)
  • Rhodes Patterson Collection

Rhodes Patterson’s penthouse view of a Chicago skyline in transition.

  • Rhodes Patterson, Michigan Avenue (1962)
  • Rhodes Patterson Collection

Chicago pedestrians calmly walk along Michigan Avenue. Filmed by Rhodes Patterson, who enjoyed shooting city life while working downtown for the Walter Paepcke-lead Container Corporation.

  • Spectacular World of Science and Medicine Through Cinematography (1975)
  • Margaret Conneely as Cinematographer, Produced by Loyola University Medical Center, Margaret Conneely Collection

Sponsored film that explores science and medicine through cinematography, microphotography, and medical photography. Glimmering micrographs appear to contain every color of the rainbow.

About the Artists

Chicago Film Archives is a regional film archive dedicated to identifying, collecting, preserving, and providing access to films that reflect Chicago and Midwest history and culture.

Christy LeMaster is the Director of the Nightingale, a microcinema located in Noble Square. She has programmed screenings for the Chicago Film Archives, Intuit Gallery, Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago Film Forum, the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, and the Chicago Underground Film Festival. She teaches at Columbia College in the Interactive Arts and Media Department.

Mairead Case is a writer, editor, and teacher. Case is an MFA-W candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduate of the 2013 Summer Writing Program at Naropa. She is also the Youth Services Assistant at the Poetry Foundation Library, a columnist at Bookslut, and the project editor for Yeti Publishing, featherproof books, Curbside Splendor, and elsewhere.

Edward Crouse’s writing has appeared in Film Comment, The Village VoiceCinema Scope, and Sight & Sound. His interest in meditation was sparked after seeing Donovan at Anthology Film Archives.

Joshua Dumas is an artist, composer, and writer in Chicago. He is a New Beast Theatre Works company member, is in the Vintage Theater Collective, and he cofounded the street performance troupe Summer is for Fireflies. He recently cowrote and composed the semi-opera Here Are Lions, scored Jerzy Rose's feature film Some Girls Never Learn, and codirected and composed Mirrors Are Just Water Specified, a dance film based on the photography of Francesca Woodman.

Ian Curry is a filmmaker whose work celebrates the sensuality, magic, and history of the physical medium of 16 mm film. Previously of Bridgewater, MA, and Boston, Curry has exhibited his works in gallery, screening, and performance contexts. He earned a BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and an MFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago.