Conversations at the Edge

On Jonathan Monaghan…

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | September 16, 2014

This season we are commissioning original content from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago student body inspired by and about the many exciting artists we will be showcasing. Over the course of the season we will be publishing short texts on each artist’s practice written by students from across SAIC. Many of these students will also be interviewing our artists for this very blog—so remember to check back throughout the Fall season!

Still from Alien Fanfare (Jonathan Monaghan, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Alien Fanfare (Jonathan Monaghan, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

As CATE’s program assistant I wanted to get the ball rolling with some thoughts on this week’s artist: Jonathan Monaghan.

I first encountered Jonathan Monaghan’s work online and was thrilled to find out we would be programming him at CATE. Characterized by bizarre characters, themes, and styles, his animated films are unpredictable and evocative. I’m often left thinking about them long after the last frame.

I’m particularly drawn to his films Dauphin (2011) and Rainbow Narcosis (2013). Monaghan describes Dauphin as a work “where meanings don’t quite materialize.” It features a stately lion who encounters a guillotine and an MRI machine, polar bears (characters he has used in previous animations), and tiny people who seem to be filming the entire thing from the background.

Rainbow Narcosis is among Monaghan’s wildest pieces. It features nine minutes of a headless lamb going through a series of strange landscapes. Some of the scenes feature commonly recognizable places, like office cubicles, but others are entirely abstract. As with all of his animated films, is slickly produced in a hyper-real style. This makes the discontinuity between characters and places all the more striking.

Monaghan’s works speak to the Internet age. They address serious themes – like corporate and political power – while maintaining a light touch, and yet their surreal imagery provokes viewers into thinking about them for a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing his latest works and hearing more about his process at this week’s CATE.

September 18 – Jonathan Monaghan

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | September 15, 2014

Thursday, September 24 | Jonathan Monaghan in person!

Still from Mothership (Jonathan Monaghan, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Mothership (Jonathan Monaghan, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Seamlessly melding imagery from art history, mainstream video games, and contemporary advertising, Jonathan Monaghan’s videos are surreal explorations of power, value, and the role of technology. The artist, whose work takes shape through glossy animated videos, virtual environments, and 3D printing, presents a selection of his latest videos, a special preview of an untitled work-in-progress, and a behind-the scenes look at the technology and research that informs his practice. At the center of the program are the science-fiction inspired shorts Alien Fanfare (2014) and Mothership (2013), each of which welcomes viewers aboard vast, dreamlike spacecraft assembled from luxury brands, fleshy tissue, and Baroque architecture.

CATE Fall Season 2014

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | August 27, 2014

Still from Nefandus (Carlos Motta, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Nefandus (Carlos Motta, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

It’s George, CATE’s program assistant here.  I’m so excited to share our Fall 2014 line up!  We have some incredible practitioners from all over the globe, representing so many varied practices.

Some of my favorites include the British filmmaking legend John Smith and his deadpan absurdity; Carlos Motta for his poetic investigations of non-Western Queer histories; and the program The X-Ray of Civilization, an exploration of downtown NYC during a time of plague.

Still from Haze and Fog (Cao Fei, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Haze and Fog (Cao Fei, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

We’re also hosting Chinese artist Cao Fei, French filmmaker Mati Diop, award-winning Chicago maker Jennifer Reeder, and mischievous media maker and curator Andrew Lampert, in addition to a program on the late Chicago video maker and visionary Anda Korsts.  Check out the entire season here.

This season is utterly multifaceted, yet totally complimentary. So come shelter yourself from the dark nights – be that just for an evening or the entire season – at the Gene Siskel Film Center. CATE kicks off Thursday, September 18.

Still from A Thousand Suns (Mati Diop, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from A Thousand Suns (Mati Diop, 2013). Courtesy of the artist.

Coming soon: CATE Fall 2014 Season

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | August 6, 2014

Still from The Girl Chewing Gum (John Smith, 1976). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from The Girl Chewing Gum (John Smith, 1976). Courtesy of the artist.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the launch of our Fall 2014 Season.  This season promises to be one of our most exciting to date with a fantastic selection of programming varying from some of the heaviest hitters to those working on the cutting edge of the moving image field.

April 24 – Basma Alsharif: Doppelgänging

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 24 | Basma Alsharif in person!

Still from Deep Sleep (Basma Alsharif, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Deep Sleep (Basma Alsharif, 2014). Courtesy of the artist.

Basma Alsharif’s sharp, seductive films have often been informed by Palestine’s history, its contemporary political situation, and the conflicted experiences of those who call it home (whether or not they live there). She returns to CATE with a collection of recent films that explore bilocation—the act of being in multiple places at once—a state of being she uses to describe Palestinian identity, as well as cinema itself. The program offers the possibility of bilocating through the visceral experience of drone-glitched TV and teenage cello lessons in Home Movies Gaza (2013); a rhyming exercise in the Panathenaic Stadium in Girls Only (2014); a stroboscopic oral history in Farther Than the Eye Can See (2012); and a hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle in Deep Sleep (2014), a film/performance. Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank.

April 17 – Thom Andersen: Reconversão

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 17 | Tom Andersen in person!

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

Still from Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012). Courtesy of the artist.

A master of the essay film, Thom Andersen turns his attention to the work of the Pritzker Prize–winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Considering built, unrealized, and abandoned projects and using a stop-motion technique that emphasizes the temporal dimension of architecture, Reconversão (2012) regards buildings not as static objects but living things, subject to decay, death, and even rebirth. (Museum of the Moving Image)

Thom Andersen (b. 1943, Chicago) is a filmmaker, curator, and scholar based in Los Angeles where he currently teaches film composition at the California Institute of the Arts.  Anderson has made numerous short films including Melting (1965), Olivia’s Place (1966) and — ——- (1967, in collaboration with Malcolm Brodwick).  In 2003 he completed Los Angeles Plays Itself, a videotape about the representation of Los Angeles in movies.

 

Interview with Sven Augustijnen

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | April 10, 2014

Filmmaker Sven Augustijnen sat down with CATE Program Assistant George William Price to discuss his multifaceted artistic practice within the context of his film “Spectres”,  screened at CATE on April 4, 2014.  

Augustijnen’s work concentrates on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to interrogate how contemporary reality is constructed through various fictions and narratives.

“Spectres” (2011) focuses a critical eye on the official account of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first elected Prime Minister post European colonial rule.

George William Price:  What drew you to this particular project?  Why do you feel it was important to investigate this set of histories within Spectres?

Sven Augustijnen:  My practice comes mainly from observations.  I live in Brussels, a town that is very marked by its colonial history and I feel interested in the public space and what’s going on there — the people etcetera.

Somehow the project came to me, although I knew it was impossible.  That you shouldn’t do this, you know, there is an attraction also to this project.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

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April 10 – Everything is Terrible! Doggie Woggiez and More

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | April 3, 2014

Thursday, April 10 | Commodore Gilgamesh and Ghoul Skool in person!

Courtesy of EIT!

Courtesy of EIT!

“If everything is terrible, then nothing is” is the motto of this filmmaking collective, whose pseudonym-loving members make rapid-fire mash-ups from VHS tapes found in thrift stores—forgotten children’s shows, religious sermons, no-budget monster movies—to explore the weirdest corners of the American psyche. Leaving little time for reflection, only total submission, its cinema is a kind of psychedelic food poisoning, equally abrasive and hilarious and, in the end, oddly affectionate toward its varied subjects. Everything is Terrible!presents several shorts and its feature-length masterwork Doggie Woggiez! Poochie Woochiez! (2012)—a remake of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountainwith a cast of cinematic canines.

Founded in 2006, Everything is Terrible! (EIT!) is an anonymous video collective dedicated to unearthing the best and worst ever committed to VHS. EIT! mines thrift stores and bargain bins for old VHS tapes and gives them new life in video compilations, live shows, and the group’s website. EIT!’s work has been hailed by Wired, Time, The Onion, Chicago Tribune, NPR’s All Things Considered, BoingBoing, Buzzfeed, Videogum, Paste, and Jezebel.

Interview with Christiane Paul

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | March 29, 2014

Curator and academic Christiane Paul sat down with CATE Program Assistant George William Price to discuss her research and curatorial practice centered around New Media.  Paul presented a multimedia talk “Genealogies of the New Aesthetic” at CATE on March 27, 2014.  

Christiane Paul (b. 1961, Attendorn, Germany) is Associate Professor at the School of Media Studies, The New School, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has written extensively on new media arts and lectured internationally on art and technology.

George William Price:  So Christiane how did you become interested in tracing the genealogy of the New Aesthetic?  What was so intriguing to you about this particular project?

Christiane Paul: I’ve been thinking and writing about the aesthetics of digital media for quite some time.  To me it is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the reception of new media.  I’m working at the Whitney Museum and one of the problems I encounter constantly, occasionally with my colleagues at the museum and often with mainstream audiences, is a lack of understanding of the aesthetics of the medium. I’m very invested in changing that and when the New Aesthetic appeared and took off I was just struck by the fact of how blurry an image of aesthetics it represents.

The New Aesthetic is a ghost of an image. It is a degradation but at the same time very valuable because it says something about its own condition.  To me the achievement of the New Aesthetic and perhaps the reason why it became such a meme is that it really captures something important about aesthetics right now.  But it fails and is not very helpful when it comes to actually creating a framework for an in-depth understanding of aesthetics.  That is one of the reasons why Malcolm Levy and I decided to look at genealogies of that New Aesthetic; many aspects of the New Aesthetic of course have a fifty-year history.

To me the current discussions surrounding post-digital, post-Internet, post-medium work are really closely related to the New Aesthetic because they struggle with some of the same issues, particularly the relationship between networked technologies and the object.  All of these terms ultimately describe projects that are deeply influenced by digital technologies on various levels but do not necessarily take a digital form, existing as software and hardware.  They manifest as paintings or as sculptures but could not be understood without a deeper level of knowledge of digital technologies and their aesthetics.

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth.  http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

Image from Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth. http://www.postcards-from-google-earth.com/

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April 3 – Sven Augustijnen: Spectres

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | March 27, 2014

Thursday, April 3 | Sven Augustijnen in person!

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Still from Spectres (2011, Sven Augustijnen). Courtesy of the artist and Auguste Orts.

Confronting the authorized version of an atrocity committed during the early days of post-colonial African rule, Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres (2011) focuses a critical eye on the official account of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first elected Prime Minister. The film begins a half-century later as the filmmaker sets off in the company of an amiable former Belgian civil servant-turned-historian on a journey in which the political soon becomes personal and standard notions of historical evidence begin to veer into Errol Morris terrain.Spectres vividly demonstrates that reconciliation always begins by uncovering the truth.

Sven Augustijnen (b. 1970, Mechelen, Belgium) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Hoger Sint-Lukas Instituut in Brussels, and at theJan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. His work concentrates mainly on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to disorienting effect. His films have been included in exhibitions and festivals in Athens, Basel, Fribourg, San Sebastián, Siegen, Rotterdam, Tunis, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, and Vilnius, among others. In 2011 he received the Evens Prize for Visual Arts. Augustijnen lives and works in Brussels.

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