From a box individual frames from 16mm “no wave” films circa NYC 1978-1981 comes this frame taken from Amos Poe’s 1978 film The Foreigner. The man in flight is Eric Mitchell, and while the frame depicts a familiar scene in the film–as the foreigner is chased by unknown people for unknown reasons–it actually does not appear in the film at all. In fact, the film frame seems to depict a meticulously reconstructed moment that appears to have been in the film (to casual observers) but which, in truth, is entirely absent.
Why would someone go to the trouble of creating a false film frame from an obscure, underground 1978 film, and how did we detect is falseness? Second question first: the authentic version of The Foreigner was produced on acetate base film stock, common for the era. The frame in question, however, is a polyester film based, not used widely until the mid-1990s. Also, while it’s clear that every effort has been made by the forgers to capture a “1978 NYC environment,” there are several clues which point to the 1990s such as the street light bulb housing/casing, a shape which seems to evoke the 1970s, but which actually dates to decades later.
As to the first question, we understand that there are those who would undermine not only the Lost Signals archives, but the entire notion of historical archives themselves, slowly supplanting authentic, time-sourced samples with false, ahistorical ones. We here at LS were made to “discover” (through an anonymous tip that led us to a remote storage shed) this supposed trove of rare film frames and archive them as “real” when, in fact, they are anything but.
We see this as an opportunity, a chance to confront and expose those who would propagate archives across the world with reproduced–but slightly altered–versions of their authentic counterparts.