Intellectual Properties

1985, 60 min, b&w and color, sound

Adams' strategy of simultaneously constructing and deconstructing a narrative text finds its most accomplished expression in Intellectual Properties. Shot on 16mm film in Boston and Newcastle, England, this six-part fiction is an ironic, stylized discourse on representation, reproduction, production and reality. "The theme is power, as related to politics, economics, mass media, advertising, modern myth, art and business, money and personality; illustrated by means of jokes, stories and anecdotes, both autobiographical and observational," writes Adams. Deftly manipulating the cinematic and media codes of narrative fiction, he tells a meta-story of contemporary art and life. Tales of John Wayne, Rolls Royces and filmmaking are linked by a lecture on copyright. Formally structured on the concept that sound qualifies image, each segment uses a different anecdotal soundtrack to recontextualize recurring visual material, until the narratives converge in the final sequence.

Camera: Peter MacLauren, Ken Slater, John Adams. Sound: Ted Evans, Ken Winokur. Music: Ken Field, Ken Winokur. Editors: Terry Bracey, John Adams. With: Jon Bewley, Amy Kaczur, Danny Mydlak, John Adams, Louise Rogers, Joy Nicholson, Marc Maislen, Don Burgie, Hazel Dormer, Jane Gillooly, Ken Winokur, Bonnie Donohue.