I've only seen it on video, but I rather like it. Indeed, lots of focus shifts, but, most of the focusing revolves around the simultaneous dissolving-fading-hand-cranking of his Bolex. As he focuses in/out, it's not only the depth of field he's playing with but through much of the film he's timed dissolves perfectly and pulls focus onto a completely different shot. While watching it I kept thinking that what he's doing could be put together pretty easily on a computer, but (assuming it's all in camera editing), for someone to time those focus shifts, dissolves and rewinds so well, impressed me. It seemed perfectly orchestrated. The new, History of Experimental Film and Video by A.L.Rees, remarks:
"Sherwins mastery of the hand-cranked camera to perform complex manipulations (including inversions of the shot and a play on focus to register and then dissolve the image) is both a form of pure perceptual cinema and an encoding of the passage of time."
The book, which I really enjoyed, concentrates mainly on his Short Film Series. Since the early 70's, he's made about 40, 3mins 16mm BW films, each concentrating on one aspect of the filmic perceptual illusion. I saw 11 of them and thought some of them were very good. Small experimental gestures that, over the course of 20 years of so, have compiled an absorbing reference to the filmmaker's illusion. On these films, Ree's comments:
"...Interestingly, Sherwin has returned to the series after almost twenty years, with studies of animals and insects which in part recall the fascination with the 'invisible' side of nature felt by the surrealists, and seen in the scientific writings of Roger Caillois and the films of Jean Painleve during the 1930's. These short films are a particularly subtle questioning of the illusionist's image."