The Biddle Rare Book Room at Duke's West Campus hosts varied performances and screenings, but rarely is the pairing of performer and venue so apt. Filmmaker David Gatten uses rare, old books as the source material for his experimental films. Not just thematically, as one would expect, but also physically: One of his works involved placing tape onto the pages of old books, then boiling away the pulp, leaving only the ink, which he then applied to strips of film.
This and other exotic filmmaking techniques—he once submerged undeveloped celluloid in a crab trap off the coast of South Carolina, to be masticated by the sea life there—have earned Gatten acclaim in the art world, as attested by a Guggenheim Fellowship and screenings at the Whitney Biennial. The Great Art of Knowing (2004) is part of a series exploring the life and library of one William Byrd II, founder of Richmond, Va., and possessor of a huge book collection of his own. Note that the film is not "about" Byrd in the conventional documentary sense; cinephiles scoring at home should keep in mind its avant-garde nature, 40 minutes' worth of silent black and white. Gatten will give a talk along with the screening, starting at 12:30 p.m. —Marc Maximov