Morgan Fisher


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Morgan Fisher is an American avant-garde filmmaker, artist, writer and teacher. He currently is a professor at the European Graduate School and lives and works in Los Angeles.

Jim Supanick has wrote the following on Morgan Fisher's work:

"Viewed as a whole, Fisher's films are like a service entrance hidden behind the Hollywood sign, leading into corridors that take us past the film labs, sound stages, and utility closets of a vast movie empire. Viewed separately, they are sly and nuanced conundrums that introduce us to the unseen servants of an elaborate image-making process. Together, the films converse with and refer to one another in an intertextual cacophony worthy of Borges."

Fisher was born in Washington DC in 1942. From 1960 -1964 he attended Harvard University where he majored in art history. After graduating from Harvard, Fisher moved to Los Angeles and attended graduate school at USC and UCLA. While residing in Los Angeles Fisher took various odd jobs in Hollywood, including at Roger Corman's New World Pictures and doing stock-footage research for Haskell Wexler.

Morgan Fisher steadily produced experimental films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Fisher's work focused on structural films that exposed the technological elements of manufacturing cinema. His works from the 1960s includes self-reflexive gems UNMADE FILM (1968) and PHI PHENOMENON (1968). In PRODUCTION STILLS (1970) Fisher used a Mitchell studio camera to film Polaroid photographs of a production crew on a UCLA sound stage. This juxtaposition of an amateur Polaroid camera with the professional Mitchell camera offers insight into the structure of composition and different filmmaking techniques. Fisher also collaborated with other filmmakers including Amy Halpern, Pat O' Neill and David Wilson to establish Los Angeles Independent Film Oasis, a collaboratively run, experimental film exhibition program that screened films in Los Angeles throughout the late 1970s.

In 1984 Morgan Fisher finished production on his longest and most critically acclaimed film STANDARD GAUGE, shot on 16mm. In the film, Fisher monotonically recounts his career as an editor in the film industry while he examines related fragments of rejected film strips. The strips span many genres from Godard's LA CHINOISE to documentary footage of the Hindenburg explosion. Unlike the hermetic nature of many other structural films, STANDARD GAUGE demonstrates how the tools of filmmaking interact with society at large. The Whitney Museum of American Art celebrated STANDARD GAUGE and other Fisher film works in a 2005 exhibit entitled, "Standard Gauge: Film Works by Morgan Fisher."

Morgan Fisher expanded his artistic development during the end of the 90s to include painting, drawing and spatial installations. After a 19 year break Morgan Fisher returned to film and created the incredible twenty one minute film ( ) (Parenthesis, 2003). The film received critical acclaim at the Rotterdam Film Festival and the 2004 Whitney Biennial. ( ) is quite different from his previous works. The film is composed using entirely insert shots. William E. Jones writes the following on ( ):

"By obeying a difficult but arbitrary rule, Morgan Fisher has invented a world, neither fictional nor documentary, without recourse to montage, and without a conventional locus of meaning. He approaches the ideal of a film void. It expresses nothing."

In 2008 UCLA dedicated a retrospective to Morgan Fisher and Thom Andersen called "Restoring the Los Angeles Avant-Garde: Thomas Andersen and Morgan Fisher," his work was also included the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's 2009 exhibition "The Artist's Museum."

[Source: Adapted from the European Graduate School Website]