Hollis Frampton


1997 Paradise Pisces

American Artist

Born March 11, 1936. Ohio
Died March 30, 1984. New York

When Frampton was nine, a doting uncle gave him a present of a Kodak Brownie box camera. This early exposure to photography must have done much to influence the direction of his life. Frampton evolved from a still photographer to a leading light in the avant-garde film movement known as "New American Cinema", which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. A keen eye, a sharp intelligence, and a vibrant imagination combined to make Frampton a visual artist of the first rank.

Frampton attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where his classmates included the future artists Carl Andre and Frank Stella. He attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland between 1954-1957. That same year, after taking a six month car trip from Ohio to Seattle to Mexico, he moved to Washington, D.C. There he visited with the poet Ezra Pound who was institutionalized at St. Elizabeth's (Mental) Hospital. At Pound's suggestion, Frampton translated a work by the German anthropologist Leo Frobenius.

Frampton moved to New York City in 1958. He also bought a Nikon camera that year. In New York he worked variously as an electrician, a commercial photography studio assistant, and as a freelance photographer.

In the early 1960s Frampton lived in New York spending a nineteen month period at 13 different addresses. His interest in the formalism of photographer Edward Weston occurred at this time. In 1962, after being hospitalized for six months, Frampton borrowed a friend's Bolex 16mm movie camera. His first film effort was a 25 minute, silent, black and white film called Clouds Like White Sheep. Apparently, this film was destroyed. During the 1960s Frampton experimented with both photography and filmmaking. However, his interest in the former waned as his interest in the latter gained.

The tension between the two media frustrated and fascinated Frampton.:

"I didn't find it a picnic to be a photographer, through the sixties, not because photography was disregarded, although of course that was true, but because my predicament was that of a committed illusionist in an environment that was officially dedicated to the eradication of illusion and, of course, utterly dominated by painting and sculpture."

The status of painting and sculpture in the day of photographic reproduction is one theme Frampton explored. It is always interesting to try to understand an artist's decision to change the medium used to produce the creative output. Frampton's migration from still photography to filmmaking is a case in point.
"I believe that one reason I stayed with still photography as long as I did was an attempt...to rid myself of the succubus of painting. Painting has for a long time been sitting on the back of everyone's neck like a Muse 'in heat,' whispering in our ears and...it has crept into territories outside its own proper domain...As for sculpture, I think a lot of my early convictions about sculpture, in a concrete sense, have affected my handling of film as a physical material. My experience of sculpture has had a lot to do with my relative willingness to take up film in hand as a physical material and work with it. "

His trek from still to moving image making has been transcribed, so-to-speak, in his autobiographical film (nostalgia). (This film, completed in 1971, is the first of seven films in the serial Hapax Legomena.) (nostalgia) is a 16mm, 36 minute, black & white, sound film which consists of a series of photographs being burnt to a crisp on a hot plate while a narrator talks about the images. The voice on the sound track (Michael Snow, himself an evolving sculpture-turned-filmmaker, is the narrator) actually talks about the next photograph, not the one the viewer sees burning. P. Adams Sitney, a most esteemed observer of the New American Cinema, comments that the film is really an "ironic joke" revealing the "limitations of the pictorial imagination." Frampton's thoughts:
"(nostalgia) is mostly about words and the kind of relationship words can have to images. I began probably as a kind of non-poet, as a kid, and my first interest in images probably had something to do with what clouds of words could rise out of them...I think there is kind of a shift between what is now memory and what was once conjecture and prophecy and so forth."

from (nostalgia)

Beginning in the fall of 1973 Frampton started teaching at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He had much to do with the development of the Center for Media Study which subsequently attracted other filmmakers such as Paul Sharits and Tony Conrad. It was an association that lasted until a month before he died in March, 1984.

Hollis Frampton YEAR TEAM Won Lost ERA IP K 1985 Beasts 16 7 3.52 197 138 1986 Beasts 8 15 3.65 195 118 1987 Beasts 10 16 3.97 188 104 1988 Beasts 10 16 2.99 223 117 1989 Beasts 19 9 2.99 214 153 1990 Beasts 10 16 3.60 210 119 1991 Beasts 12 10 3.67 189 115 1992 Beasts 17 8 2.65 207 103 1993 Beasts 16 10 3.04 207 143 1994 Beasts 10 15 4.23 183 100 1995 Beasts 10 13 3.33 200 106 1996 Beasts 18 7 2.87 188 156 12 Seasons 156 142 3.36 2401 1472
Frampton has been one of the best overall pitchers the Visionville Beasts have ever had. He has also had more 10-win only seasons (5) than any other pitcher in Cosmic Baseball history.

After 12 seasons with the Beasts, and after a stellar performance during the 1996 season, he finally got the call up to the Overleagues to play with the Paradise Pisces.

Bolex Poetics

1997 Paradise Pisces Roster

Hollis Frampton: Recollections/Reflections. Bruce Jenkins, Susan Krane. MIT Press. Cambridge, MA. 1984.

Visionary Film, 2nd Edition. P. Adams Sitney. Oxford University Press. New York. 1979.

The Avant Garde Film. P. Adams Sitney, Editor. NYU Press. New york. 1978.

Hollis Frampton- Cosmic Baseball Player Plate
URL http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/hollis7.html
Published: October 30, 1996

Copyright © 1996, 1997 by the
Cosmic Baseball Association
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