In the packed back-room of a pub the place is dark, except for a crossfire of light coming from a multitude of projectors. The crowd of two to three hundred are yabbering furiously at the back, swigging beer, checking out the book and zine stalls from the 121 and 56a bookshops and the nutsoid offerings of mail art superstar Mark Pawson. Down at the front the people are attentive to the main film. It could be a short documentary someone's made on their pet hamsters; a paranoid sci-fi horror about the underground trains in London really being giant flesh eating worms; or some cataclysmic animation, with unnameable debris seething into chaotic life. There is undoubtedly some compere berating or coaxing the crowd between each film.    

('How to Make a Film: The Exploding Cinema' interview by MatthewFuller, The American Book Review , vol 16, no 5, 1995, p7)

The Exploding Cinema can be described as a hybrid fusion of projection, performance and social space. It began in South London in late 1991.

Spaces from pub back rooms to derelict factories are transformed with the use of slides and loop film projections and used as an environmental context for a programme of short films and video. A 'master of ceremonies' sets up a dialogue with the audience and introduces the films. He or she encourages filmmakers who are present to speak or be questioned. The audience are even encouraged to make films themselves and invited to show them at future Exploding events with a promise that nothing will be rejected.

By thoughtful programming this inclusive process of soliciting material, along with printed invitations and the work of the members of the group, results in a varied and lively programme, which can regularly attract enthusiastic audiences of 100 - 300. The Exploding Cinema has been run by a core group of six to eight people, helped by a wider network of friends and enthusiasts since 1991. In the last 15 years it has put on more that 100 events and shown over 2000 pieces of work. It is unfunded and supports itself entirely from admission prices of £3 - 4. All profits are put back into the maintenance and purchase of equipment for the shows.

This online exhibition, and the materials archived in the Study Collection, is an attempt give a preliminary introduction and overview to the group and the context(s) of its activities

For further information on its history, texts written by various members, and its current activities, see the Exploding Cinema website.

Stefan Szczelkun's PhD thesis 'Exploding Cinema 1991-1999, culture and democracy' is an invaluable companion piece and also housed in the Study Collection.

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