"An anthropologist of the heart." - Mike Hoolboom
Currently based in Vietnam, Martin Rumsby has an extensive career as a film-maker, writer, exhibitor and distributor.
Since the mid-2010's he has produced a number of short diaristic works under the series title Manurewa Newsreel. Most of these document day to day encounters with people in Auckland (with a particular focus on the suburb of Manurewa). Latterly his work has focussed on scenes of people at work and leisure in his adopted home of Ho Chi Minh City. Other recent works make reference to canonical experimental film works from the North American avant garde or reprise small gauge film material shot in North America in the 1980s (I read the news today, 1987/2019).
Prior to this, Rumsby's films include Aqualuna (2011), Landscapism (2008), Brown's Barbeque (2006), Driveway (2006), The Overlander (2006), For Dots (2003), American Sketchbook (2000), Vistas (1985), Fanfare (c.1984), Science Fictions (1981).
He has described his overriding interest as the cinematic representation of landscape. "I like to think about the history of art and experimental film as I explore landscapes with my camera. The films are like documents of my evolving notions of cinematic landscape. Each completed work and landscape encountered leads to a new work, almost as an inarticulate form of autobiography. They range across locations as varied as the North Islands volcanic plateau, to African American neighbourhoods and the media, in the form of Canadian television, as contemporary landscape".
In the 1980s and 90s Rumsby exhibited films widely throughout New Zealand and North America, introducing New Zealand artists such as Neil Pardington and Vivienne Smith, Kathy Dudding and Len Lye to international audiences. Whilst based in North America he produced a number of documentary-style works based on North American street life (For Dots, 2008).
Rumsby has been one of the few writers to attempt to articulate a lineage of experimental film practice in New Zealand, authoring several essays identifying key figures and movements from the 1970s to the 2010's which have been recently available through academia.edu. In addition he has recorded interviews with many local film-makers which he has self-published online. His essays on film culture have been published in Millenium Film Journal (New York). NZX2K10, his compilation DVD of New Zealand experimental films, was included as a free giveaway in New Zealand periodical ILLUSIONS #42, Summer 2010. He has contributed articles to CIRCUIT on fellow film-makers Brent Hayward and Ken Jacobs.
His audio works include Six Grey Lynn Histories (c1980), Seven Artists (c1981) and recordings of Len Lye's kinetc sculptures.
"The Johnny Appleseed of experimental film." - Stan Brakhage, The Brakhage/Elder Lectures, Regina Public Library, Saskatchewan, Canada c.1988
Sojourns, Masons Screen, Wellington
A Little Faith, Govert Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth