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THURSDAY

The wisdom of Madonna’s biggest hit notwithstanding, not everything is best when shiny and new. Filmmaker Bill Morrison is fascinated by old nitrate archive footage that has naturally deteriorated, sometimes slightly altering the original image, sometimes replacing it with what now seems like pure abstraction. His Decasia compiles snippets of decomposed celluloid, arranged by both thematic and musical logic. In fact, the 70-minute film began as a complement to a symphony composed by Bang on a Can’s Michael Gordon, and the music provides a propulsion not always found in pure-art films. A surging piece whose symphonic timbres often suggest electronic ones, the score keys Reichian shimmers and Pendereckian shrieks to Morrison’s assemblage of corrupted moments from costume dramas and anthropological documentaries. While the film’s images of humans suggest the endless cycle of death and rebirth, Decasia freeze-frames decayed celluloid, never to be repaired but preserved from further decline. It screens at 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)

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