Yoko Ono confronts the foundation of film, its capacity to photographically record what comes in front of the lens, revealing both the material process of imprinting the film and, at the same time, its ability to penetrate beyond the surface of the image. In No.1 (Match) (1966), the simple gesture of lighting a match fills the screen. The image becomes a metaphor for the light in the projector and illumination itself becomes the theme of the film. Her best-known film Bottoms (1966) embodies her interest in the body and the film strategies used to represent it. Later films celebrate her relationship with John Lennon, who she met in 1966. Film No. 5 (Smile) (1968) uses the camera to capture the fleeting emotions reflected on Lennon’s face, while Two Virgins (1968) is a brief lyric expression of their love, mixed and fused with the images of bodies.
Celebrity and feminism is the theme of another of Yoko Ono’s most complex and committed films, Rape (1969), while Erection (1971) and Apotheosis (1970) focus on the process of movement and change over time. In these films, which like her other films bear no relation to any narrative conventions, the camera is like an eye, an instrument for observation. As with her work in performance art and sculpture, these films show the materials, which in this case are characteristic of film: the production and the filming of the images.