Posted on | November 12, 2013 | Comments Off
Could you tell us a little bit about the piece you’ll be screening for Conversations at the Edge this fall?
Natural Life is a project I began working on in the winter of 2011, a few months after I arrived to Chicago. The piece focuses on the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to life without parole (natural life) for crimes they committed as youth. The degree of responsibility for the crimes they were charged with varies from merely being in a room with an adult who committed a murder, to being accused of partaking in a premeditated act of killing. None of them, however, will ever be evaluated for change, difference, or growth. They will remain in prison till they die.
I tell the stories from multiple angles, from that of the legal experts and law enforcement officials, through family members of the inmates and relatives of victims of similar crimes. My goal is to examine context as activating and revealing change and difference – synchronically, through simultaneous yet incongruent views on similar acts or events, and diachronically, by allowing positions and phrases to mutate and flip meaning, as in a pun, when transitioning between stories.
This is done first and foremost through the literal device of a split screen. The voices, thus, are always interpreted through more than one view: older and younger, black and white, victim and perpetrator, police and convict, inside prison and outside it. The meaning of each of the two sides of the screen, however, mutates and alters. Difference is the only constant.
My hope is to depict change as inevitable, and difference as structural. And in that way, challenge the underlying presumption of permanence and sameness that the sentence of life-without-parole for juveniles claims and imposes.
What inspired you to make this work?
In 2009 I was collaborating with a young inmate who was serving life in a Michigan prison for a crime he committed as a juvenile. Together we conceived and generated a short 3-D animation that told the story of his crime and sentence by weaving actual facts and images with fabricated and constructed ones. When I left Michigan to move to Chicago, I decided to tackle the severity of his and other youth’s natural life sentencing in a more straightforward way, and to develop a documentary project that would allow these kids’ voices to be heard by a broad and diverse audience.
Tell us about your process: how do you start a piece, and how do you know when it’s finished?
I generally work very fluidly, perhaps to a fault. Production is a form of research. I wait for the details within the encounter with a person or place to guide me as to how a story will be shaped. And research continues in post-production as well. The material for this piece, for instance, has been assembled and disassembled dozens of times. I shifted from a script that focused on linguistic transformations to a script that emphasized character; from a two and three part structure to a more dynamic, multiple part one; and from single channel to a two channel display. Eventually, the story yielded, and some clearer concept and understanding of what it is that I see and what I want to impart, began to surface.
What have you read recently that is most interesting to you?
A related book I recently read is Life After Death, an autobiography written by Damien Echols. Echols and two other juveniles (together known as the Memphis Three) were convicted in 1994 of a crime they didn’t commit, and spent close to twenty years in prison before they were released. Echols’ writing is a rare mix of a harsh, Pasolini like, description of the raw texture of life on death row, with a deliberately naïve engagement with spiritual outlets he conjured and invested in while inside. Stylistically it is as beautifully inconsistent, and moves between highly analytical, eloquent and insightful depictions, to a rough and unstructured assembly of notes and comments generated while serving time in prison.
What are you most looking forward to after having finished this big project?
It is still difficult for me to see the end – my hope is to have a version to show at CATE, and then to take some time to respond to the project in slow detail. Producing the film has been a long and relentless effort, which allowed little time for stepping back and feeling the piece as a whole.
Posted on | November 8, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, November 14, 6 p.m. | Special preview screening | Tirtza Even in person!
For more than 15 years, video artist and documentary filmmaker Tirtza Even has created a body of work that addresses an array of complex social and political issues in Palestine, Turkey, Spain, Germany, and the US. She presents a special preview of her latest project, Natural Life, a feature-length documentary about six individuals who, as youths, received the most severe sentence given to convicted adults—“natural life” or life without parole. Pairing interviews with inmates and those involved in their cases (family members, attorneys, police officers, and victims) with documented and staged scenes, Even’s film is an elegant and unflinching challenge to the inequities of the juvenile justice system.
2013, USA, digital file, 85 min + discussion
TIRTZA EVEN (b.1963, Jerusalem) is a video artist and documentary filmmaker based in Chicago. Her work has appeared widely at international festivals, galleries and museums including the Whitney Biennial and the Johannesburg Biennial, and is in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Jewish Museum, New York; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; among others. She is an Associate Professor in SAIC’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department.
Natural Life was produced alongside and with the support of the legal efforts of the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle.
Posted on | November 1, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, November 7, 6 p.m. | Presented by curator Jennifer Chan
Artists Janet Lin in person and Georges Jacotey present via Google Hangout!
In video’s early days, artists explored the camera’s influence on the way we understand ourselves by mixing performance and the medium’s capacity for instantaneous playback. In a seminal example, Lynda Benglis directed, questioned, and even kissed a screen image of her own self in the 1973 video Now. Forty years later, video art has become a hybrid practice that spans from performance-for-the-webcam to online remixes. Curated by new media artist Jennifer Chan, this program extends Now’s concerns into the era after the internet, showcasing politicized, carnal videos by artists Alexandra Gorczynski, Georges Jacotey, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Faith Holland, Eduardo Menz, Ei Jane Janet Lin, and more.
1973–2013, multiple countries, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion
JENNIFER CHAN (b. 1988, Ottawa, Canada) works with video, performance, and web-based media. She makes deliberately kitsch remix videos as a form of social commentary on art and gender after the Internet. Recent solo exhibitions include the Marshall McLuhan Salon in the Embassy of Canada in Berlin for Transmediale 2013 and Vox Populi, Philadelphia. Her curatorial projects have appeared at Trinity Square Video, VTape, and InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Center. Her writing on the histories and trends of Internet culture have been published in West Space Journal, Rhizome, Networked_Performance, Art F City, and Junk Jet. She is a recipient of the 2008 Mississauga Art Awards for Emerging Visual Talent.
Posted on | October 29, 2013 | Comments Off
Could you tell us a little bit about the program you’ll be screening for Conversations at the Edge this fall?
Sure. The formal description:
Let Your Light Shine investigates the formal principles of abstract cinema while maturing an interest in found materials; evolving modes of production and labor; and the role of decoration in daily life. Prodding at hierarchies of aesthetic value and the tension between high and low, these works question the role of abstract animation in a post-psychedelic climate. Merch tables meet museum gift stores. The sublime meets Sublime the band. Ebullient spectacles surface from resurrected dead capital and banal everyday objects. Stroboscopic eulogies celebrate the spectrum of abstraction from transcendent visual experiences to science kit optical fascinations, forcing a proscenium collision of the arena rock show, the planetarium light performance, and the cinema.
The casual description:
One piece is a rock opera documentary about a dying pop-culture merch business. I will narrate this live via song. Another piece requires viewing through prismatic glasses that turn each image into seven rainbows. There may or may not be a special surprise and/or a costume contest.
What inspires you in the world?
Mostly I’m inspired by why the majority of normal people despise contemporary art and how imagery oscillates between worlds of obscurist and mainstream consumption. I’m also inspired by how technology simultaneously enhances and ruins the world.
Tell us a bit about your process: how do you start a piece, and how do you know when it’s finished.
Films usually start when I find or inherit a large collection of objects in multiples. If I move or someone else moves, for example, a film usually comes to life. The constraints of working with a 16mm Bolex camera often determine durational/logistical structures for my films. For a while, I only wanted to make one-roll pieces (4,000 frames, 2m45s). Then, this year, I began extending the length of my material studies (but still allowing the roll structure to determine the length, growing to 3 or 4 rolls instead of one). Part of the beauty of working on film is that the animation process is kind of like a performance. Sometimes people skip beats or hit the wrong notes, and that’s the way it goes. Most of my 16mm films are shot in-camera, so what I shoot is what I get.
What artists are you following right now?
Sorry, I’m not on Twitter.
JK. Wow! A great question (a hard one, too, because one of the best things about being an artist is getting to know and love many other artists!!!) A quick, alphabetical-and-equally-gendered sampling: Eliza Fernand, Paul Glabicki, Leif Goldberg, Stefan Gruber, Jesse McLean, Kelly Sears, Stacey Steers, Guy Sherwin, Miwa Matreyek, Mirai Mizue, Xander Marro, Shana Moulton, Michael Robinson, Jonathan Schwartz.
What are you most looking forward to about presenting this new body of work?
I’m mostly excited that this is the first “body of work” I’ve created to actually be a “body of work”. These films were made to go together. Threads join, separate, and recur throughout the program. In the past showing programs of my work, I’ve always feared it was sort of half and half of one thing or another, but this program feels completely cohesive. It represents a year where my practice grew in leaps and bounds. I am taking risks, stretching myself, and demonstrating range. I see this program of a culmination of any of the ideas and themes we’ve seen swimming in my work for years. It’s time to serve the stew that’s been simmering. Mmmm, fall!
I hope this group of films proves that, at least for now, I’m committed to continually finding and renewing my voice as an animator.
Posted on | October 25, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, October 31, 6 p.m. | Jodie Mack in person!
Jodie Mack’s handmade films are vibrant examinations of the decorative detritus that accumulates around us. With cast-off bits of wrapping paper, calico fabrics, and magazine clippings, she crafts exquisite stroboscopic abstractions and poignant fables of the pitfalls of modern materiality. The SAIC alumna returns to Chicago with a special show featuring four brand-new shorts, live songs, and the city’s premiere of Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project (2013). An animated-personal-essay-cum-rock-opera, the film adapts the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to meditate on the demise of her mother’s mail order poster business in the face of e-commerce’s rise, the changing role of physical objects and virtual data in transaction, and the division (or lack thereof) between abstraction in fine art and psychedelic kitsch.
JODIE MACK (b. 1983, London, UK) is an experimental animator whose work combines the formal technique and structures of abstract animation and genre filmmaking to explore the tension between form and meaning. Her films have screened at Anthology Film Archives, Los Angeles Filmforum, and the Rotterdam and New York Film Festivals, among others. In 2011 Mack was a featured filmmaker at the Flaherty Seminar, and in 2013 received the Marion McMahan Award at the Images Festival in Toronto. She received her MFA from SAIC in 2007 and teaches at Dartmouth College.
New Fancy Foils (2013, USA, 16mm, Color, Silent, 12.5 min.)
Undertone Overture (2013, USA, 16mm, Color, Sound, 10.5 min.)
Dusty Stacks of Mom (2013, USA, 16mm, Color, Live Sound, 41 min.)
Glistening Thrills (2013, USA, 16mm, Color, Silent, 8 min.)
Let Your Light Shine (2013, USA, 16mm, Color/B&W, Sound, 3 min.)
Posted on | October 21, 2013 | Comments Off
Could you tell us a little bit about the project you’ll be screening for Conversations at the Edge this fall?
From Deep is a 90-minute experimental documentary about the game of basketball and its shifting place within 20th century American history and culture. It toggles between essay and mixtape, and draws its material from a wide range of sources, including, popular cinema, archival footage, music videos, hip hop music, highlight reels, newscasts, interposed with self-shot footage of pick-up ball from across the Midwest, the Northeast, and down into Kentucky.
There are two main threads that weave throughout the piece. The first traces the merger of hip hop and basketball in the mid-80s, coinciding with Michael Jordan’s rise as a cultural icon and the emergence of the corporate branded athlete. The second thread is more ethnographic in nature and highlights the social dimensions of the game. Playground basketball is represented in contrast to the professional game (as spectator sport), emphasizing the participatory, inclusive aspects of pick-up ball. In these sections the camera becomes part of the action.
What inspires you in the world?
Sincerity, social justice, perseverance, the DIY ethos, optimism, fresh style, intelligence without arrogance, experimentation with form, people whose work takes risks and speaks truth to power…
Tell us a bit about your process: how do you start a piece, and how do you know when it’s finished?
My process is research intensive and fairly circuitous. I often start broadly, with a subject that I feel passionate about and personally invested in, which provides a frame of reference. In this case, I knew I wanted to make a project about basketball because it was an important part of my adolescence, and I’ve always maintained an interest in it. I also wanted to continue my investigation into the skein of sports, identity, nationality, and fandom that I started with a previous project titled Valery’s Ankle, a piece about hockey violence and Canadian identity. The genesis of From Deep was in moving to the U.S. and suddenly being surrounded by basketball, and basketball culture, in a much more consuming and daily way than as a teenager playing out of passion and later, as part of a high school team. I was interested in how the game fit into a larger conversation about politics, style, and race in this country.
Once I determine what the subject is, I start to read extensively and I make a lot of notes, collect footage and parse clips. I don’t follow a preconceived plan or script instead, I try to find a form within the material itself. The initial assembly takes a long time as I churn through different possibilities for organizing and structuring the material, determine what I still need, and start to find the connective threads. The narration usually comes together toward the end; it is written in response to the shape and flow that the images have taken, and drawn from the research and notation that I’ve been conducting throughout the process. With From Deep, I decided to incorporate two voices into the piece, because I felt it needed at least two different perspectives. The last step was selecting the underscore music, which I worked with DJ /rupture (Jace Clayton) on.
What have you been watching lately?
I saw Eric Fleischauer and Jason Lazarus’ twohundredfiftysixcolors a few nights ago and that was a treat. It’s the sort of film that appeals to me a lot – research-based, curatorial, typological, collaged, intertextual, and which says something about the current state of our world and culture. The other kind of work that I’m intrigued by right now situates the moving image within a sculptured installation or highly constructed or specified viewing environment. I’m thinking specifically of recent projects by Sharon Hayes, Kerry Tribe, Harun Farocki, Wu Tsang, Neïl Beloufa, and Elisabeth Subrin, among others, that feature a fragmentary, spatialized mix of narrative and nonfiction elements, often with layers of historical reference.
What are you most looking forward to about presenting this new work?
Seeing it projected large with good sound and an audience. This will be the first public preview of From Deep, so I’m excited to have the chance share it with others, to let it out into the world and hear the response. I think Conversations at the Edge is an ideal context for From Deep. It’s designed to be both informative and entertaining, and to create dialogue. The concept of edu-tainment, which I first became familiar with via the music and writing of KRS-One, is something that has underpinned the project from the very beginning.
Brett Kashmere will be presenting a special preview of From Deep at CATE on Thursday, October 24 at 6PM
Posted on | October 18, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, October 24, 6p.m. | Special preview screening | Brett Kashmere in person!
Pittsburgh-based artist Brett Kashmere presents a special preview of From Deep, which looks at basketball and its profound role in American life—as an everyday street game played by millions around the country; a force in fashion, music, and mass media; and a platform for thornier issues of race and class. Drawing his imagery from neighborhood pick-up games, contemporary films, music videos, and spectacular sports footage, Kashmere charts a history of the game over the last century, including its rapid cultural rise in the 1980s, with the global branding of Michael Jordan; basketball’s connection with hip hop culture; and its growing fan culture, which laid the groundwork for the sport’s significance today.
2013, USA, HD Video, 85 min + discussion
BRETT KASHMERE (b. 1977, White City, Saskatchewan Canada) is a filmmaker, curator, and writer. His experimental documentaries explore history, popular culture, and collective identities and have screened at festivals, microcinemas, cinematheques, and galleries around the world. His curatorial projects include the touring expanded cinema installation and DVD-format catalog, Industry: Recent Works by Richard Kerr and the touring retrospective Arthur Lipsett: About Time, which traveled to venues in France, Belgium, England, and Canada. Kashmere is also the founding editor and publisher of INCITE Journal of Experimental Media and his writing on film has appeared in The Canadian Journal of Film Studies and Millennium Film Journal, among many others. He is co-editing a book on Arthur Lipsett titled Strange Codes.
Posted on | October 14, 2013 | Comments Off
Could you tell us a little bit about the program you’ll be screening for Conversations at the Edge this fall? How did you become interested in this subject matter?
Ghost Anthology is part of a series of programs about Argentine experimental cinema that I’ve been working on for a couple of years. In a way it’s a supplement to my own research in that field which started as soon as I discovered the films of Claudio Caldini, Narcisa Hirsch, Jorge Honik, and some of the other filmmakers from that period. I was shocked by the radicalism of their powerful images, and even more shocked to find out that there was virtually nothing written about all those works which to me constituted some of the most lucid ideas of film, as an art form, ever to be produced in Argentina.
So, the idea behind this program is to present a curated perspective of this history, whose artistic impact has yet to be discussed or addressed at length not only nationally but especially outside of Argentina. To (try to) fill a void. In this sense, each program is different and subjective, as I intend to escape the creation of a canon, even when there are obvious key figures and films in this tradition. For this program, the line-up of films focuses on the most vibrant period for avant-garde film in Argentina, from the 1970s to the early 1980s, and its relation to a younger generation. Also, the idea behind these programs is to present work in their best possible form, which in this case means that all the films will be screened from their original camera materials.
Ghost Anthology is composed entirely of work on Super 8mm — could you tell us more about the importance of this format for your makers? Why do you think it has continued to appeal to younger generations of Argentine filmmakers?
In an article written in 1978, Claudio Caldini stated that, “Super 8 imposes other relationships with cinema, from conception to screening. … Which ones? Those that the artists imagine and make happen. They are the ones who decide what kind of film to make, their audiences, and how to reach them. A self-determination that many professionals would bless. Super 8 demands the rediscovery of the trade.” I think this is true, and perhaps the main reason why so many filmmakers in Argentina (at least all the ones included in the program) have chosen Super 8 as their principal medium of work. Besides being less expensive than 16mm or 35mm (which I won’t deny it was/is an important factor here), I think Super 8 has been always a more “accessible” aesthetic tool. With its reduced size and simplified functions, filmmaking becomes a truly personal (individual) and infinite process. I think that infinite quality that leads to a rediscovery of the trade is very well represented in all of these challenging films.
What artists are you following right now?
I’m interested in many artists, especially those working in the field of film (as in photochemical imagery), but I would say I try to keep up with the work of Luther Price, Frank Biesendorfer, and Helga Fanderl, three artists that are very prolific and show mostly their originals (also projected by themselves)—a bad combination for someone who likes their stuff and doesn’t travel that much.
Besides them, and other international figures, I closely follow the work of many of my friends and colleagues in Argentina.
Tell us a bit about your artistic practice. What are you working on now?
In addition to curating and writing (and a little teaching now and then) about experimental film, I also make films. Which sometimes can be kind of hard, in terms of detaching myself from all the work that I see and think about from a critical point of view and focusing on my own work. It’s a mixed feeling, I guess. Because I ultimately think that it’s always better to keep yourself informed, to know what’s out there, than to be isolated. But anyway, right now I’m finishing a series of films about nature that are being shot on Super 8 and will be blown-up to 16mm at the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT), as part of a great residency program they offer. The films propose an approach to nature from a very structural (geometrical) perspective using in-camera superimpositions as the main resource (a procedure I’m very interested in).
I’m also editing and translating an anthology of Stan Brakhage’s texts and essays which will be published next year. I’m very excited about this book, have been working on it for years, but that’s another story …
Pablo Marín will be presenting his program, Ghost Anthology, at CATE on Thursday, October 17 at 6PM
Posted on | October 11, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, October 17, 6pm | Curator Pablo Marín in person!
Organized by Buenos Aires-based filmmaker and curator Pablo Marín, Ghost Anthology charts an eye-opening course through the last 40 years of Argentina’s rugged experimental film history, showcasing a collection of films rarely exhibited in the US. The movement exploded in the 1970s, just as the country came under the control of a military dictatorship. Forced underground, artists experimented with small, consumer-grade film cameras and developed informal collectives to produce collaborative, deeply personal, and formally dazzling works. Included here are films by such pivotal makers as Narcisa Hirsch, Horacio Vallereggio, Jorge Honik, Gabriel Romano, and Claudio Caldini, as well as contemporary artists Sergio Subero, and Pablo Mazzolo, among others.
1976–2013, Argentina, Super-8mm, 75 min + discussion
PABLO MARÍN (1982, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a filmmaker, curator, and scholar. His works have been featured at the London, Oberhausen, and Rotterdam Film Festivals; Austrian Film Museum, Vienna; Anthology Film Archives, New York; and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; among others. He has presented programs of Argentine films throughout Europe and curated the DVD Dialéctica en suspenso: Argentine Experimental Film and Video, published by Antennae Collection. He writes about the history of Argentine experimental film on his website, La Región Central. He lives and works in Buenos Aires.
Testamento y vida interior (Narcisa Hirsch, 1977, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 18 min.)
Espectro (Sergio Subero, 2010, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 9 min.)
Untitled (Gabriel Romano, 1982, Argentina, Super-8mm, Silent, 2 min.)
Gamelan (Claudio Caldini, 1981, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 12 min.)
Triste, triste (Horacio Vallereggio, 1976, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 4 min.)
Passacaglia y fuga (Jorge Honik & Laura Abel, 1976, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 18 min.)
El Quilpo sueña cataratas (Pablo Mazzolo, 2012, Argentina, Super-8mm, Sound, 11 min.)
Posted on | October 4, 2013 | Comments Off
Thursday, October 10, 6pm | Kurt Hentschläger in person!
An evening with Chicago-based Austrian artist (and SAIC visiting faculty) Kurt Hentschläger whose work explores human perception through intricate, multi-sensorial environments and live, audiovisual performances. Renowned for his immersive installations, the majority of Hentschläger’s works are generated or orchestrated by computer, employing atmospheric and drone soundscapes, figurative visuals, and strobe lights. He provides an overview of his practice and a live demonstration of his sophisticated realtime process.
2003–12, multiple countries, multiple formats, 60 min + discussion
Trained as a fine artist, KURT HENTSCHLÄGER (b. 1960, Linz, Austria) began his career building surreal machine-objects before turning to video, computer animation, and sound. From 1993 until 2003 Hentschläger worked collaboratively with Ulf Langheinrich as a part of Granular-Synthesis. Selected exhibitions include the Venice Biennial; Venice Theater Biennial; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; PS1 New York; and Creative Time, Inc., New York; among many others. In 2010 he won a Quartz Electronic Music Award. He is a visiting artist at SAIC and lives in Chicago.keep looking »