Mar 5 – John Gerrard: Networks and Power

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | March 1, 2015

Thursday, March 5th | John Gerrard in person!

John Gerrard, Pulp Press (Kistefos), 2013, Kistefos-Museet Sculpture Park. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jiri Havran

John Gerrard, Pulp Press (Kistefos), 2013, Kistefos-Museet Sculpture
Park. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jiri Havran

The works of John Gerrard (MFA 2000) often take shape as large-scale projections of meticulously crafted virtual worlds, astonishing in their scope and execution. Driven by sophisticated military modeling and video game software, they recreate the outposts of human industry—a 19th-century paper mill in Norway, mysterious roadways along China’s Silk Road, a solar power plant in Nevada, factory farms in Oklahoma—to address the networks of energy and power that have fueled modern life. Gerrard presents five recent interrelated projects—including Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) (2014), Exercise (Dunhuang) (2014), and his latest work-in-progress Farm (Pryor Creek)—and discusses the themes and technology that have informed his practice.

2009–15, China/Norway/US, multiple formats, ca 60 min + discussion

Facebook Event Page

 

On Rebecca Baron…

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | February 25, 2015

I am delighted to welcome back to the CATE blog Lindsay Bosch, Marketing & Development Manager of Video Data Bank, who this week writes on the lyrical work of Rebecca Baron. Video Data Bank has been Baron’s US distributor for many years and we at CATE are thrilled to present her work in partnership with our cosponsor. Founded at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1976 at the inception of the media arts movement, the Video Data Bank is a leading resource in the United States for video by and about contemporary artists.

Rebecca Baron.

Rebecca Baron.

 

Most of our knowledge of history is also film history, of a type.

I was raised on Ken Burn’s slow pans over silver-tinted photographs of haunted Civil War soldiers. On the History Channel’s endless loop of newsreels showing B52 bombers.   On classroom film strips advancing frames of American Presidents with each audio beep. In our historical education we have always been awash in documentary and documentation. My earliest encounters with events of the past were guided by educational film tropes; those decorous talking heads in book-lined offices, or self-confident British narrators interpreting black & white footage. We are taught history, and at the same time we are taught how to view history’s archive.

Rebecca Baron’s work helps us to unlearn, to upend, our documentary habits. She seeks to erase the narrative framework we picked up each time the substitute teacher put on a ½ hour VHS tape covering the whole of the Industrial Revolution. Baron’s classic works of the 1990s foreshadow our contemporary moment of rich engagement with experimental documentary, asking us for extraordinarily detailed consideration of their archive material. From the recovered photographs of nineteenth century adventurers trapped on an ice-flow in The Idea of North (1995), to a scrap of super-8 footage of an unidentified Cambodian worker in okay bye-bye (1998), Baron allows her documentaries to follow the winding lead of their source material. The films revel in specificity and repetition, referencing again and again the particulars of the images that they present. As viewers, we are brought into intimate detail with the grain of the images, with the varying contrast, the way they move and actually look. Baron’s footage does not stand in for an idea of Antarctic explorers, nor does it symbolize the Pol Pot regime, it simply is; as it is. Baron’s close material explorations invite questioning, softly raising those classic journalistic demands: Who? When? Why? Offering the central documentation repeatedly to her viewers, Baron rejects the imposition of historical narrative. As an audience member I always find myself asking, simply: What is this, exactly? Like Baron herself, I am compelled to know what motives, what inspiration, lead to the creation of these exact historical images.

Read more

Feb 26 – Rebecca Baron: Detour de Force

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | February 23, 2015

Thursday, February 26th | Rebecca Baron in person!

Rebecca Baron, still from Detour de Force, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Rebecca Baron, still from Detour de Force, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Los Angeles–based filmmaker Rebecca Baron is known for provocative essay films exploring such far-ranging subjects as Britain’s Mass Observation movement, 19th-century Arctic exploration, and the role of recording technologies in shaping our understanding of the world around us. Her latest film,Detour de Force, introduces viewers to the incredible world of “thoughtographer” Ted Serios—a Chicago bellhop who, in the mid-1960s, produced hundreds of Polaroid images through sheer force of mind. Baron screens the film with a selection of works from Lossless (2008, with Douglas Goodwin), a series of digital interventions—data compression, code removal—into video copies of classic American films with fascinating results. Presented in collaboration with the Video Data Bank. 

2008–14, US, DCP and digital video, ca 70 min + discussion

Facebook Event Page

Outmoded Insights

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | February 20, 2015

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Robin Deacon is a filmmaker, writer, performance artist, and professor at SAIC. White Balance: A History of Video is an exploration of videographic conducted through text, speech, and an artillery of outdated video equipment. But he wants wants you to know–it’s not a camera geek thing. It’s about the narratives that these certain pieces of technology allow him to fill in, based on their inability to deliver the absoluteness of clear picture. Sammi Skolmoski (MFA 2016) sat down with Deacon for E+D magazine to discuss his upcoming performance and lecture at Conversations at the Edge.

Sammi Skolmoski: You explain the term “white balance” as “the process by which a camera is adjusted…to reach a truer sense of what is being seen.” Do you have any performance techniques that you feel allow you to achieve that same “truer sense” of conveyance?

Robin Deacon: There’s often this idea or assumption made about the performer being very direct with the audience. So the performer is, if not being themselves, they’re closer to beng themselves than if they were acting. I want to question that idea more–the assumptions about the performance artist having some heightened access to truth or the realism of a situation. I am interested in artifice, and in the idea of fiction in relation to understanding a particular performance experienced through documentation. There’s a real tension there that I like to exploit. In White Balance I tell a lot of stories which may or may not be true or exaggerated or overplayed. So I suppose I’m working toward to truer sense of that artifice.

How does documentation affect a performance?

This comes up a lot in teaching–witnessing a performance as live event or through documentation.  It often doesn’t get beyond being there or not being there. So I am trying to break the idea that these things are in opposition, or that one is secondary. Often discussions around documentation in the classroom center on ideas of verification–whether or not the function of pointing a camera at something is to have a record of it, or the proof that something has happened that you can put in your portfolio. I’m more interested in revisiting documentation and reimagining it, filling in those blanks. That fictional, fantastical approach to looking at documentation, rather than thinking about it as the absolute record.

How has White Balance evolved from the last iteration, as a nine-hour performance over the course of three days?

I think by me saying it was nine hours is kind of cheating because is was essentially a 45-minute lecture that just looped and looped and looped. As a performer, the idea of the start and end being contingent on whenever you walked in–that was quite unusual and enjoyable. But it was also quite disconcerting. That point where it looped back around became irrelevant the longer I went on with it, and so it changed each time. The piece for Conversations at the Edge is responding to the idea of cinematic space. There’s references to various bits of cinema, I sample various films that relate to my storyline, my voice is becoming a little more disembodied, my presence is different, and so on.

On Robin Deacon…

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | February 18, 2015

I am delighted that Conversations at the Edge will be opening with my fellow Englishman Robin Deacon‘s multimedia performance White Balance: A History of Video this Thursday, February 19th at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

White Balance is a performance that draws on Deacon’s journalistic and documentary approaches to art making. Throughout the performance he engages with different outmoded forms of video technology in an effort to explore how the perception of memory and time are constructed through the medium of moving image. Deacon’s performance reveals the “ghosts in the machine,” those haunting specters with which we engage when viewing the ambient images of early video: artist documentation, family holidays, and television broadcasts. We see his pet dog. He speaks to us of a childhood in his native England. Time is demonstrated to be as malleable and ever-shifting as the degrading polymeric material to which it has been committed, while technological developments become temporal markers for our own memories. As viewers, we realize that we use these anachronistic vessels as compasses to orient our individual and collective memories. Deacon states during a performance in which time seems to be ever expanding, “Everything is out of its place. Everything is out of its time.”

George William Price is an arts administrator and scholar specializing in alternative forms of moving image media. He is the program assistant for Conversations at the Edge at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is a candidate for a Masters in Arts Administration and Policy (exp. 2015).

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Feb 19 – Robin Deacon: White Balance: A History of Video

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | February 15, 2015

Thursday, February 19th | Robin Deacon in person!

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Chloe Pang

Robin Deacon, performance shot from White Balance: A History of Video, 2013. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Chloe Pang

Acclaimed artist and filmmaker Robin Deacon presents a stirring performance on the history and aesthetics of video. The title White Balance refers to the process by which a video camera is adjusted to account for differences in light. For Deacon, this process also suggests video’s capability to convey “a truer sense of what is being seen.” Using a series of outmoded video cameras and discarded tape formats, Deacon weaves together autobiography, fiction, and old recordings—home movies, artists’ tapes, archival TV footage—to explore the ways seeing and remembering may be transformed by the medium used to capture the event.

2013–15, US, live performance with analog and digital video, ca 60 min + discussion

Facebook Event Page

Spring 2015 Season

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | January 28, 2015

John Gerrard, Pulp Press (Kistefos), 2013, Kistefos-Museet Sculpture Park. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jiri Havran

John Gerrard, Pulp Press (Kistefos), 2013, Kistefos-Museet Sculpture
Park. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Jiri Havran

Happy 2015, it’s George, CATE’s program assistant here. Thanks for checking in with Conversations at the Edge blog. You’ll be glad you had as we have a fabulous lineup of international artists and scholars in our Spring 2015 season!

Highlights include German born new media artist and theorist Marisa Olson whose projects have taken on a variety of forms including pointed YouTube responses to iconic feminist videos; SAIC alum John Gerrard’s virtual emulations of outposts of human industry; and the program Projections, Portraits, and Picaresques, in which personal identity is articulated in relation to aesthetic and community, fiction and truth.

Mary Helena Clark, still from The Dragon is the Frame, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Mary Helena Clark, still from The Dragon is the Frame, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

If that wasn’t exciting enough we will be welcoming artist, and Chicago resident Robin Deacon to CATE, along with South Korean filmmaker Soon-Mi Yoon, and Academy Award nominated animator Daniel Sousa. Dennis Lim, director of programming at the Film Society of the Lincoln Center will present a recent restoration of Massimo Sarchielli’s seminal 1975 documentary Anna. You can browse through the entire season here.

I really believe this spring season may be one of our best yet! So I hope that you’ll be able to join us this season at the Gene Siskel Film Center. CATE commences in just a few short weeks—Thursday, February 19th.

Daniel Sousa, film still from Feral, 2012. Courtesy of the artist

Daniel Sousa, film still from Feral, 2012. Courtesy of the artist

Special Preview: Marvin J. Taylor interviewed for Video Data Bank

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | November 21, 2014

Marvin J. Taylor, Director of Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University sat down with CATE’s program assistant George William Price to talk about his thoughts on the emotional archive, the ethics of custodianship, and the cultural scene of 1980’s Downtown New York City. This interview will be released as part of Video Data Bank’s On Art and Artists collection late Spring 2015.

Taylor spoke at the November, 2014 program The X-Ray of Civilization: Films by Tom Rubnitz, David Wojnarowicz, and Tommy Turner. Surveying the cultural scene of 1980s New York, this program explored how the impending Culture Wars and the devastation of AIDS contributed to a city that crackled with tension and ached with sadness. Against this background, artists Tom Rubnitz, David Wojnarowicz, and Tommy Turner transformed mass media’s detritus into transgressive responses to the socio-political order.

Video Data Bank’s On Art and Artists is a unique collection of interviews and portraits of artists, musicians, performers, architects, theorists, and critics, spanning 1974 to the present.  The OAA collection represents four decades of producing and acquiring interviews by the Video Data Bank, and features more than 300 available titles, of which at least half are interviews produced by the Video Data Bank and its co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield.  In addition, the collection offers artist interviews produced by external producers and producing organizations—including Artists Television Network,Long Beach Museum of Art, and the University of Colorado—and experimental documentaries and portraits, many of them produced by other artists.

On Mati Diop… What Were We Left With?

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | November 12, 2014

I am delighted to introduce the final text in our series of SAIC student writings on this season’s artists. Natalia De Orellana speaks to how the boundaries between the documentary and the fictional in Mati Diop’s A Thousand Suns results in an intermingling between the real and the imagined, where ‘nothing is true and nothing is false’.

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

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

Whilst tougher immigration laws are put on the table by some European leaders jeopardizing the long-gone fantasy of free movement,[1] immigration has remained one of the principal worldwide issues shaping policy-making hierarchic rules for the past decades. Among the myriad of justifying socio economic facts that blur this issue, what remains veiled however, is the vision and complexity that sharpens the experience of those who made this step.

This is one of the visions that is embraced by the cinematographic narratives of Mati Diop (1982), daughter of the musician Wasis Diop and niece of Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambety. Actress and director, her vision is one that places this topic within the present, where the lenses of the camera follow the character in its constant doubt presenting him as sensitive individual as opposed to the menacing victim or heroic figure. Indeed, Diop’s narratives are relevant for she does not introduce the fearless achievement of the character who crossed the geopolitical border triumphantly singing ‘Paris’. Hers is the focus on human fears led by the same passion and social dreams that would forever conflict with the sense of belonging and identity.

Read more

Special Preview: John Smith interviewed for Video Data Bank

Posted by | Conversations at the Edge | Posted on | November 11, 2014

A special preview of John Smith’s interview for Video Data Bank’s (VDB) ever growing On Art and Artists Collection, due for release late Spring 2015. In this interview excerpt Smith discusses, with VDB’s director Abina Manning, his film Shepherd’s Delight a film largely concerned with how context determines the reading of information.

The Jarman Award winning artist presented his work at three different institutions during his time in Chicago. A collaboration between Conversations at the Edge, Video Data Bank, Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and PracticeMary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, and the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center. In his playful and thought-provoking short films and videos, Smith explores the language of cinema and reflects on the image’s role in politics, war, and the global economy.

Video Data Bank’s On Art and Artists is a unique collection of interviews and portraits of artists, musicians, performers, architects, theorists, and critics, spanning 1974 to the present.  The OAA collection represents four decades of producing and acquiring interviews by the Video Data Bank, and features more than 300 available titles, of which at least half are interviews produced by the Video Data Bank and its co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield.  In addition, the collection offers artist interviews produced by external producers and producing organizations—including Artists Television Network,Long Beach Museum of Art, and the University of Colorado—and experimental documentaries and portraits, many of them produced by other artists.

keep looking »