Black Infinitude


The State Theatre #1 Thu, Mar 28 7:00 PM



Edge Hill University


Education Partner

U-M Museum of Art

Community Partner

Ann Arbor Art Center



Curated by M. Woods

Warning: These films may contain content that is not recommended for those with photosensitivity or epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

In November 2020, we lost one of the most influential multi-disciplinary artists of the last century—Aldo Tambellini. Tambellini’s avant-garde work and insistence on new media led him to be considered a pioneer in the field of experimental film and video. The retrospective screening Black Infinitude and the accompanying installation offer a compendium of some of Tambellini’s most important works while orienting his practice around the poetry, sculpture, performance, and multidisciplinary, time-based experiences he proposed as means for discovering both the universal and sociopolitical contexts of Blackness in his work.

Tambellini did not enter filmmaking through the camera. He approached the medium as a sculptural object and an extension of the poetic with which he could experiment in time. One cannot remove Tambellini from the context of his war-torn childhood in Italy or the radical political activities in which he was involved through his work at New York City’s Gate Theatre, with the Umbra Collective, with Ben Morea, and others. His sculptures are like the negative cast of a cratered world—they are often concave half-spheres of brutal remnants. While the sculptural works hold a sort of psychogeography transferred by Tambellini through his experiences of WWII, his cinematic works simulate the “hot” hyperspeed of chaotic time-space. These works belong in relation to Tambellini’s concept of “the centrifuge,” an art experience in which all various elements act as subatomic particles. This exploration of negative and positive cosmic space must be seen as a response to the hyperstimulation brought about by witnessing and experiencing incendiary, bombastic, and violently abject sociopolitical traumas.

Tambellini’s first explorations in cinematic space involved slide film as a canvas. Through performative interventions, he began altering the speed of the slide projector, eventually using analog motion picture and projectors. Tambellini, through film and video, quickly began creating expanded cinema before it was ever named. Through this screening, we will present Tambellini’s body of essential cinematic work within the context of his multidisciplinary approach and his persistent search for new media.

Be sure to see Hydrocal with found objects of metal, an original Aldo Tambellini sculpture, of which few remain, now on view in the State Theatre lobby for the duration of the 62nd AAFF. Tambellini’s sculpture is a half-spherical concrete representation of the war-torn soul. It holds the artifacts of the most brutal mechanized trauma. Sculptural practice guided Tambellini’s pioneering experimentation with analog video and electronic media. This rare display of his sculpture is accompanied by a VR experience that includes his moving image works Black Video 2 and The Cathodic Works Volume 1, as well as a VR interview with the artist conducted by his mentee M. Woods. Sculpture and moving image works provided by the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation.

The Screw

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1963 | 5 | digital
Provided by the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

We begin with video documentation of Tambellini’s 1963 performance art piece, The Screw, a biting satire aimed at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum who agreed to accept a new sculpture created by Tambellini in 1963. It’s a perfect example of Tambellini’s wit and contempt for systems of power and capital. In true Aldo fashion, he assembled a group of local teenagers who wanted to learn how to perform as a barber shop quartet. He wrote a song for them to perform, split the commission, and created a public spectacle presenting both museums with The Screw—a literal “screw you” to the nihilistic institutions Tambellini called out for violating the ethics of artistic citizenship through their promotion of commercialized, mainstream, docile, and apolitical art work. Tambellini’s performance incorporates the poetic, the spectacle, the musical, the satirical, and the sculptural.

Black Is

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1965 | 4 | 16mm
Provided by the Harvard Film Archive and the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

Tambellini at first used 35mm slides as a means of projecting handprinted abstract images onto larger spaces, using a carousel projector to control timing. However, due to the limitations of this technique, he sought an alternative method for exploring time. The result, Black Is, uses a cameraless technique on 16mm film. The hand-painted surface of the analog film allowed Tambellini to expand his painterly practice of representing the unfolding cosmic geometries of the circle and the spiral through the extremes of black and white, using ink. The quick mechanization of the projector and the resistance to/breaking of the frame create a percolating rhythm and an esoteric landscape, an expanse that both simulates the speed of memorialized, collective trauma and the extremes of cosmic (and glorious) chaos.

Black Trip #1

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1965 | 5 | 16mm
Provided by the Harvard Film Archive and the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

"Black Trip #1" expands upon the painted language of Black Is, now positing the film experience as similar to the sensorial destination of a hallucinatory zone. We see here the beginnings of Tambellini’s theories on multi-disciplinary media environments.

Black Out

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1965 | 9 | 16mm
Provided by the Harvard Film Archive and the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

In "Black Out", Tambellini’s symbolic exploration directly on film reaches its chaotic heights as the painted circle and his iconic spiral intermingle with lattices, light leaks, and concentric circle patterns. "Black Out" is notable for its soundtrack, calling upon the violence of the political now inside of a cosmic hereafter.


M. Woods

Lecture | 10 min

M. Woods discusses Aldo Tambellini’s early works and films, and ties his artistic practice to his notes on installation design and innovations in proto-virtual reality. He also discusses Tambellini’s history of radical political art practices. M. Woods was provided with full access to Tambellini’s notes and archives, where Tambellini’s ideas about “media centrifuge” as an art installation were discovered.


Black Trip #2

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1967 | 3 | 16mm

One of Tambellini’s first forays into representational imagery in cinema. Black Trip #2 is a nail bomb of a movie. A fitting companion to Black Plus X and Black TV. 

Black Plus X

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1966 | 9 | 16mm
Provided by the Harvard Film Archive and the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

"Black Plus X" speaks from a place of deep-felt sincerity, inner reflection, and exploration. It reflects what it is to be a loving accomplice in the struggle for civil rights and universal human decency. It captures real events without a clear referent in static space, creating one of the most beguiling cinematographic experiments of in-camera multiple exposure.


Aldo Tambellini
Cambridge, MA | 2007 | 15 | digital
Provided by the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation

Spending years working at MIT after having left the NYC art scene of the 1960s, Tambellini, like many artists, experienced a time of less prolific output. However, his association with Anna Salamone, his second wife, led to their collaboration on Listen, a politically militant anti-Bush attack on the illegal wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Tambellini used the low fidelity of digital media, interspersed with long frames of black, to respond poetically to the atrocities once again committed by the US military industrial complex. Winner of the Syracuse International Film Festival.


Black Video 3

Aldo Tambellini
Cambridge, MA | 1981 | 24 | digital
Provided by the Aldo Tambellini Art Foundation
World Premiere

This work was recently discovered and will have its world premiere at AAFF. A free-wheeling, long-form trance as Tambellini distorts the imagery from a cathode ray television, recording the results. M. Woods accompanies the film with a live soundtrack performance.

Black TV

Aldo Tambellini
New York, NY | 1969 | 10 | 16mm

"Black TV" is Aldo Tambellini’s most famous work: a dual projection sensorial hell, waves of terror over the repetitive death proclamation of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. Despite the contemporary political context, Black TV is a mirror into the depths of the void that is universally familiar. This program ends with Black TV to commemorate the 50 years since Tambellini won an honorable mention at the 1969 Ann Arbor Film Festival. Winner of the 1969 Oberhausen Film Festival.



M. Woods is a Latinx-American media artist working in avant-garde film, video art, photography, collage, sound design, performance, curation, installation, music composition, and immersive media.