Interview with members of the Camera Obscura collective

San Francisco July 1975

excerpts published in "Film as Film", Arts Council of Great Britain, London 1979

Klaus Wyborny: "Generally i start with very rigid logical structures which define the composition. But then once this logical structure is imposed on the work, I can allow strong chance operations to happen. For instance in "The Birth of a Nation" there is a very rigid logical structure in the way the image is worked on. But which image each operation is performed on is completely random. I didn't look at each image and say 'This image needs this or that process, to get the most precise formulation of its interior quality', or something like that. It's chance, but chance within the limits of a rigid logical structure. I wouldn't perform chance operations which are not related to the logical structures of a film...."

"In fact the logical structure of "The Birth of a Nation" was based on the derivation of a differential quotient. When you have a mathmatical function and this function doesn't change, the diferential quotient is zero. If something changes, it does not equal zero. And when you bi-pack the positve and the negative, and you put the positive and the negative a little out of sync, even one frame, you can actually see this differential quotient. If you match them in sync, they just match up to black. But if you have them a bit out of sync, then whereever there is motion, you see a little white. So whats visible in the end is indeed the idea of an optical differential quotient where you see the movement and the static imageparts stay black. But i printed it a bit brighter, so that you can also get some idea of the background, in which the movement takes place. I f i had printed it darker, then you would have seen only the motion. So the end of that film is, in a way, a representation of an optical differential quotient."

"The derivation of this differential quotient constitutes the logical structure of the second part of the film. I felt, as a human being, not strong enough in this social context to impose some inspired compositional structure on this footage. In fact I needed a system which was outside of me. At the same time i thought that the theoretical derivation of such a thing alone would be boring. So I wanted to make it very sensuous. Sometimes its nice to work in a scientific way but at the same time I wanted people to have an emotional response even when they dont understand what then whole thing is about. I mean, nobody had ever seen such a differential quotient before. Its an original achievement of this film. But for the normal viewer this notion is just too far away, so he doesn't see it. For him the film just looks sensuous."