Summer 2018 Studio Immersion Program – Laser Light: The Films of Sabine Gruffat

Amarillo Ramp directed by Sabine Gruffat (and Bill Brown)


The program will feature a selection of her work, including the Man Ray-inspired A Return to A Return to Reason (2014) and Framelines (2017), which both use a laser cutter to etch imagery into the emulsion of 35mm film.

Sabine Gruffat is a French-American artist who works with experimental video and animation, media-enhanced performance, participatory public art, and immersive installation. In this work, machines, interfaces, and systems constitute the language by which she codes the world. The creation of new ideas means inventing new tools, crossing analog and digital signals, or repurposing old machines to patch into new ones. By actively disrupting both current and outmoded technology, Gruffat questions standardized ways of understanding the world around us. More detailed information at

Black Oval White
2009, 3 minutes
A video recording of a computer-generated abstract animation that is keyed, wiped and matted by electronic oscillators. The sound of the electronic oscillators is delayed and pitched to produce modulations.

A Return to The Return to Reason
2014, 3 minutes
Laser etched BW 35mm film leader transferred to Digital file.
A scratch film for the 21st Century where 35mm black leader is meticulously etched frame by frame using a digital laser cutter (a machine designed for precision carpentry). A Return to The Return to Reason is a conceptual and materialist tribute to Man Ray’s 1923 film Le Retour à La Raison (A Return to Reason), the first film to use the ‘Rayograph’ technique in which Man Ray exposed found objects onto film negative.

Brave New World
2015, 7 minutes
35mm Film transferred to HD
In this video, 35mm archival silent documentary film footage shot by Henry Ford’s own filmmakers is reworked and given a soundtrack revealing the colonial lens through which the filmmakers apprehended unfamiliar nature. Through editing and processing the film confronts the violent history of Fordism while questioning the limits of mediated vision.

2007, 9 minutes
Hand-processed 16mm Tri-X reversal transferred to Digital file.
These three films were made from The New York Times newspaper articles. The semi – automated animation process resulted in sentence recombinations that sometimes made sense while randomly emphasizing certain words and images.

2017, 11 minutes
35mm film
An abstract scratch film made by laser etching abstract patterns on the film emulsion of negative and positive 35mm film. The strips of film were then re-photographed on top of each other as photograms then contact printed. The soundtrack filters and layers the noise made by the laser etched optical track.

Amarillo Ramp*
*co-directed with Bill Brown
2017, 24 minutes
16mm film transferred to Digital file.
Perhaps best known for his Spiral Jetty, sculptor Robert Smithson’s interest in landscape and land use was prophetic. In 1973, Texas oil millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 commissioned Smithson to create an earthwork on Marsh’s cattle ranch north of Amarillo. Called ‘Amarillo Ramp,’ it was to be Smithson’s final art project: he was killed in a plane crash while flying over the site on an aerial survey. Responding to Smithson’s sculptural practice, as well as his interest in science fiction, this experimental film is a document, a memorial, and a meditation on Amarillo Ramp as an observatory of time and space.

Sabine Gruffat is in residence as a filmmaker in the Studio Immersion Program.

The LIFT and PIX FILM Studio Immersion Program is generously supported by the Petman Foundation.

is an independent working studio, micro cinema, event space and gallery. The modular space accommodates diverse needs of individual artists, community arts groups and arts collectives. PIX FILM values digital and film forms of production and exhibition.

The Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) is Canada’s foremost artist-run production and education organization dedicated to celebrating excellence in the moving image. LIFT exists to provide support and encouragement for independent filmmakers and artists through affordable access to production, post-production and exhibition equipment; professional and creative development; workshops and courses; commissioning and exhibitions; artist-residencies; and a variety of other services. LIFT is supported by its membership, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ontario Arts Foundation, the Government of Ontario and the Toronto Arts Council.


Wednesday 13 June 2018 –

Non-members: Free
Members: Fee

PIX Film Gallery 
1411 Dufferin Street, Unit C 
Toronto ON Canada