On Alex Gerbaulet

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | November 2, 2017

Alexandra Gerbaulet, still from SCHICHT (Shift), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

This week we are excited to welcome German artist and filmmaker Alex Gerbaulet to Conversations at the Edge for a screening of her experimental documentaries.

Bridging the gap between analysis and poetry, Gerbaulet’s films confront problematic histories and the complex narratives hidden within personally and collectively repressed memory.

Included in this screening is Gerbaulet’s 2015 film, Schicht (Shift). Part autobiographical and part critical observation, the film juxtaposes the artist’s personal archive of family photographs and her mother’s diary excerpts with found footage and historical images. What results is a metaphorical parallel that Gerbaulet draws between her own familial history with that of her birthplace and hometown, Salzgitter, Germany.

Visit the film’s website here for additional texts and reviews.

Alex Gerbaulet, still from SCHICHT (Shift), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

November 2 – Alex Gerbaulet: Digging Deep

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 27, 2017

Alexa Gerbaulet, still from SCHICHT (Shift), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alluring and enigmatic, the films of German artist Alex Gerbaulet unearth the complex narratives hidden within personally and collectively repressed memory. Utilizing both archival material and footage filmed by the artist herself, Gerbaulet’s documentaries bridge the gap between analysis and poetry. Buildings, space, and the body serve as sites that bear witness to past crime and trauma. Questioning voiceovers dissolve the idyllic facades of these structures, as her films examine the consequences of passively forgetting. Through political and biographical frameworks, Gerbaulet quietly confronts the lingering vestiges of a problematic history. The program features Gerbaulet’s recent films Schicht (2015) and Depth of Field (2017), followed by Tattooed Prisoners (2007) and Datterode (2005).

Presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

2005-17, Germany, multiple formats, ca 65 min + discussion

Alex Gerbaulet in person

Alex Gerbaulet (b. Salzgitter, Germany) is a German artist, filmmaker, and curator who studied Philosophy, Media Science, and Visual Arts in Brunswick and Vienna. She is the recipient of a 2008 scholarship by Hans-Bockler-Stiftung, a 2012 scholarship by the city of Berlin, and a 2014 grant from Art- und Culture-Foundation Stade (Germany). In 2011, Gerbaulet was selected for Berlinale Talent Campus DOK Station. Since 2014, she has worked as a producer for Pong Film GmbH in Berlin where she currently resides.

On Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 26, 2017

New York-based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder return to Chicago with a new film performance, in collaboration with sound artist Brian Case for this week’s Conversations at the Edge.

View the following teaser to get a sense of how these collaborators physically transform reels of film into sculptural and kinetic abstractions of light.

October 26 – Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder: Tense Nature: The Changeover System with sound artist Brian Case

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 20, 2017

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder. Image courtesy of the artists.

Known for performances that transform films into stunning sculptures of light, New York-based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder return to Chicago with their latest live work. The piece unites the Gene Siskel Film Center’s two theaters by cycling the reels of one feature-length film through each of its four 35mm projectors. The artists introduce glassware and other diffracting media to bend, scatter, distort, and redefine the film’s image. Joined by Chicago-based musician Brian Case, who builds darkly ambient soundscapes from stuttered tape loops and layered lock grooves, the three guide the audience between the two spaces to produce a spectral montage in three dimensions.

Presented in collaboration with Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

2017, USA, live performance, ca 60 min + discussion

Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, and Brian Case in person

Collaborators since 2000, Sandra Gibson (b. Portland, Oregon) and Luis Recoder (b. San Francisco, California) unite the rich traditions of the experimental film, particularly its structuralist and materialist strands, and the multimodal sensibility of expanded cinema that emerged in the 1960s. Their body of work explores this interstice between avant-garde film practice and the incorporation of moving images and time-based media into the museum and art gallery. Based in New York, Gibson and Recoder have exhibited and performed internationally at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Toronto International Film Festival; Tate Modern in London; Viennale, Vienna; International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands; Nam June Paik Art Center in Yongin, South Korea; Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan; and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

Brian Case (b. St. Louis, MO) is an artist and musician based in Chicago. He has been involved with the groups 90 Day Men, The Ponys, and the Disappears. His most recent band, FACS, uses minimalism and space to create abstract and modern art rock. His solo efforts (Tense Nature, 2016 and Spirit Design, 2017) range from ambient compositions of rhythm and space to hypnotic beat-driven tracks.

On The Real-Fake

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 19, 2017

This week’s Conversations at the Edge program features The Real-Fake curated by Claudia Hart, Rachel Clarke, and Pat Reynolds. This screening brings together 23 artists working with 3D simulation tools to produce a new aesthetic and ethic of the fake.

AES+F, still from The Feast of Trimalchio, 2010. Image courtesy of the artists.

To accompany the program, we are excerpting media artist, curator, and theorist Patrick Lichty’s interview with Claudia Hart on Furtherfield, in which the two discuss what “real-fakeness” is, how it arrived as an art notion, and how it has informed the two versions of The Real-Fake exhibitions in 2011 and 2016.


Really Fake, or Faking Reality? Simulacra, Fake Art, and Breaking the Frame:
A Conversation between Patrick Lichty and Claudia Hart.

Patrick Lichty: What, in your mind does the show represent as an expression of contemporary culture?

Claudia Hart: The Real-Fake remake opened on November 19, slightly after the election. I was actually in the air when Trump won, landing in Bucharest, several hours later.  The culture there is still overshadowed by the history of the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. The contemporary art museum actually sits in a corner of his Palace of the People, which was built in the style of WWII Italo-fascist Neoclassicism. The whole experience was ominous and frightening in relation to the autocratic, punitive Trump. I began obsessively tracking “fake news”, both because of its relationship to the kind of propaganda used by the Trump/Bannon team to hijack the presidency, but also because of the hacking of the democratic party and collusion of the Republicans with the government of Vladimir Putin.

In both the 2011 and the 2016 versions of the Real-Fake exhibition, we tried to deconstruct, for simplicity’s sake, what I’m now calling “post-photography”, or what Steven Shaviro termed as the “Post-Cinematic.” This relates to digital simulations of the real made with current technologies of representation and post-mechanical reproduction. Post Photography can be defined by what it is NOT in relation to everything documentary and verité about photography. It suggests a radical paradigm shift with significant cultural ramifications. Post Photography does not purport to “slice” from life, but rather is a parallel construction of it, numerically modeled with the same techniques used by scientists, and also by the game and Hollywood special effects industries. The artists working with it all use specialized compositing and 3D animation software. But instead of capturing the real in an indexical fashion, Post Photography artists use measured calculations to simulate reality.

Our deconstruction of the post-photographic real-fake was made in relation to cultural myths about the truth, through viewing the work of 50 artists. They are all part of a larger community acutely aware of the implications of using a computer model of the real as opposed to traditional capture technology. The issues implied by this choice have obviously been made manifest at our own historical juncture, when the culture of science and climate-change deniers rule America. The manufacturing of fake truth in the form of misinformation and ubiquitous infotainment are now profoundly epic.

I’m currently reading Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (Verso, 2014) a history of hacker culture related to both the esthetics of “Real-Fakeness” and also the actual milieu that it emerged from. I’m inspired at the moment by that book, and the brilliant essay “Tactical Virality” by Hannah Barton (Real Life, February 14, 2017) because they’ve helped me to articulate what I now feel is the relationship of The Real-Fake to our current cultural and political quagmire.  What excited me about the Barton article is that she finds language to talk about the fake news, meaning in larger terms, the fake media strategy so successfully implemented by the Trump/Bannon team.  Both of these men are fake-media production experts, and individually built lucrative empires with their expertise. Fake news is a product, and one can trace its lineage from the first alt-right radio flamers, through Fox, Breitbart and now, embodied in the personage of Steve Bannon, straight into the oval office. Fake news is a semiotic morph, a kind of hybrid of advertising and spectacular entertainment covered by a gloss surface of “news” or facts, that can be output in a range of forms from talking-head news commentators, to pseudo down-and-dirty cinema verité documentary. It is a knowing contemporary version of propaganda, and in fact, as reported by Joshua Green in Bloomberg Politics in 2015 even, in a chilling profile of Steve Bannon (https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-steve-bannon/), Andrew Breitbart himself called Bannon out as “the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.”

So, with Bannon/Trump, we have entered into a paradoxical social-media semiotic in which that which most strongly resembles what Stephen Colbert dubbed as “truthiness” must be suspected as being the biggest lie.

PL: And to focus this back to art, perhaps what we might say is that instead of Picasso’s axiom of artists telling lies to reveal the truth, to make a fake “real” is to go through the machinations of media manipulation that Robert Reich talked about, like pulling the media in and driving conversation until it’s “almost real.” Maybe that’s the quality of “Real-Fakeness,” or even “Fake-Realness” (to do a structural inversion).  And with “Simulationists” as we are, and postinternet artists, perhaps veracity and verisimilitude aren’t the point anymore. Maybe it’s just what’s in the boxes and “teh netz”.

CH: Exactly. All of these players are deploying the representational tactic of structural inversion, one of the techniques used to grab audience attention and leverage in the Internet media economy. Bannon’s professional canniness in rerouting the attention economy into fake news, was that flaming mis/information could be sold as a very lucrative attention-economy product.  Likewise Trump made a fortune within this economy. Both are experts in the tactics required to make a thing go viral, in hacking the media/entertainment system for maximum clicks. Their approach obviously works.  And you can see this in some of the work in the show.

Read the full interview here

October 19 – The Real-Fake

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 13, 2017

AES+F, still from The Feast of Trimalchio, 2010. Image courtesy of the artists.

In an epoch defined by avatars, reality bubbles, and the rapid spread of alt-facts, the role of computer simulation technologies and the parallel worlds they produce take on new dimensions. Curated by Claudia Hart, Rachel Clarke, and Pat Reynolds, The Real-Fake brings together 23 artists working with 3D simulation tools to produce a new esthetic and ethic of the fake. For example, the Russian collective AES+F turns geopolitical hierarchies upside down in an uncanny digital trompe l’oeil; Moreshin Allahyari creates an imaginary space to explore the communication breakdowns caused by limitations to Internet access; and the avatar and virtual artist LaTurbo Avedon explores the Internet’s physical manifestations in a new work commissioned for this show. This program is part of a much larger and ongoing project, including additional screenings, gallery exhibitions, and writing. Hart and Clarke will introduce the program and be joined by Avedon for a discussion afterward.

2006–17, multiple artists, multiple countries, digital file, ca 80 min + discussion

Artist LaTurbo Avedon and curators Rachel Clarke and Claudia Hart in person

Claudia Hart (b. New York) has been active as an artist, curator, and critic since 1988. She works with digital trompe l’oeil as a medium, directing theater and making media objects of all kinds. Hart’s works deal with issues of representation, identity, and the natural, and her project is to de-masculinize the culture of corporate technology by inserting the irrational and the personal into the slick, overly-determined Cartesian world of digital design. She is widely exhibited and collected by galleries and museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the New Museum, and Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology in New York, where she was an honorary fellow in 2013–14. She is a Professor of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at SAIC.

Rachel Clarke (b. Shropshire, United Kingdom) is an artist and professor of new media and digital art at California State University, Sacramento. Her work intertwines themes of nature, culture, and technology. Combining physical and virtual modes of making, it involves video and animation, installation, augmented reality, and experimental 3D. She has shown at ISEA in Vancouver, Canada; Another Year in LA; Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria; Aggregate Space in Oakland, California; WORK Detroit; and Currents International Festival of New Media in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Clarke serves on the board of the College Art Association’s New Media Caucus and is the founding editor of its international journal, Media-N.

LaTurbo Avedon (b. Internet) is an avatar and artist originating in virtual space. Their work emphasizes the practice of non-physical identity and authorship. Many of the works can be described as research into dimensions, deconstructions, and the explosion of forms, exploring topics of virtual authorship and the physicality of the Internet.Their works are regularly distributed online, and have been exhibited internationally–including Somerset House, London; transmediale, Berlin; Mutek Festival, Montreal; NRW Forum, Düsseldorf; DEF CON Hacking Conference, Las Vegas; Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt; Transfer Gallery, New York; Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago; and Galeries Lafayette, Paris. LaTurbo is currently an artist resident at Somerset House Studios.

On Jim Trainor

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 11, 2017

Jim Trainor, still from The Pink Egg (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Our fall 2017 season kicks off this week with a screening of The Pink Egg, the first live-action feature by Chicago filmmaker and animator Jim Trainor.

Featuring his trademark dark comedy and fascination with the natural world, Trainor’s The Pink Egg explores the complex and curious lives of insects by casting humans in the starring roles.

This week, we are excerpting Trainor’s conversation with Irene Borger, writer and Director of the Herb Alpert Awards, of which Trainor was a recipient in 2010.

In this in-depth interview, Trainor discusses his work through the topics of line, voice, sources, animals, and transgression.  


Filmmaker Jim Trainor in conversation with Irene Borger, September 2010.

Irene Borger: A number of your key films have animals as the protagonists and tell the stories from their point of view.

Jim Trainor: Let me start by pointing out that in recent years my films have segued from animal themes to human themes. The Bats [1998] and The Moschops [2000] are anthropomorphic only to the extent that the animal narrators use language–rather fancy, poetic language–to describe their emotions and their life cycles. But their behavior is purely animal. I tell people over and over that my animals really are just animals, they are not stand-ins for humans, but nobody believes me.

People get a little dewy-eyed and platitudinous about nature, so I enjoy troubling them about it. Right now I’m working on a film on parasitic wasps – which Darwin himself said were incommensurate with a benevolent deity.

Since the harmony of nature is actually based on an unhappy system of things destroying other things, I am continually struck and amused by nature documentaries’ almost compulsive tendency to try to comfort us instead of leaving us stranded in existential horror, where we belong.

Still, I am not completely unsentimental, and even I root for the baby lost penguin, or the gazelle that escapes the lion’s claws!

IB: How has your work changed over time? How will the new film differ from–and carry on threads of–what you’ve already created?

JT: Certain artists make the same work over and over, and I think I am one of those. It is as if I’ve found all my themes and will keep working on them, and never be able to get them out of my system. I am very excited about the wasp movie, The Pink Egg. For the first time I’m making a live-action film (with a proper screenplay), with actors (actresses, mostly), enacting the life cycles of insects.In my quiet way I enjoy bossing people around and the idea of directing actors tickles me. Even though I’m going out on a limb here, I’m confidant that this wacky concept will work, and work as a funny, austere horror movie, as improbable as that sounds.

Read the full interview here.

October 12 – Jim Trainor: The Pink Egg

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | October 6, 2017

Jim Trainor, still from The Pink Egg (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Featuring his trademark dark comedy and fascination with the natural world, Chicago-based animator Jim Trainor explores the complex and curious lives of insects in his first live-action feature. Casting humans in the starring roles, The Pink Egg follows life-cycles of “The Seven Sisters,” a group of evolutionarily related wasps and bees. Unitard costumes and candy-colored props set the stage for the feeding, mating, and hunting rituals of a civilization as successful as our own, yet founded on utterly alien principles. The narrative advances without dialogue or narration, leaving the audience to puzzle out its mysterious goings-on, evoking a Mother Nature who keeps her cards close to her chest.

2016, USA, digital file, 71 min + discussion

Jim Trainor in person

Jim Trainor (b. New York) is a filmmaker and animator based in Chicago. His films explore the grim and realistic habits of animals in their natural habitats, illustrating the divide between bestial instinct and human emotion and logic. His films have screened at the Whitney Biennial, New York; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Chicago Filmmakers; Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah; New York Animation Festival; Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California; Nashville Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands; Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece; Golden Horse Festival, Taiwan; and La Xina A.R.T., Barcelona. He has received awards from numerous film festivals, including San Francisco International; Black Marial; New York Underground; Cinematexas; Big Muddy; and the Ann Arbor. Trainor is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation at SAIC.

Announcing Fall 2017

Posted by | Paris Jomadiao | Posted on | August 29, 2017

Jim Trainor, still from The Pink Egg (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

We’re excited to announce the lineup for Conversations at the Edge’s Fall 2017 season!

Check out the full season details here.

AES+F, still from The Feast of Trimalchio, 2010. Image courtesy of the artists.

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder. Image courtesy of the artists.

Alexandra Gerbaulet, still from SCHICHT (Shift), 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Ana Mendieta, still from Butterfly, 1975. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

Sondra Perry, still from Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.

Coco Fusco, still from La confesión (2015). Image courtesy of the artist.

CATE Fall 2017 Season

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | August 24, 2017

Ana Mendieta, still from Butterfly, 1975. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, L.L.C. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

Conversations at the Edge’s fall 2017 season kicks off October 12!

Highlights include the live-action feature The Pink Egg by animator Jim Trainor; a new film performance by Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, and sound artist Brian Case; new work by German filmmaker Alex Gerbaulet, a selection of newly restored films by Ana Mendieta, a performance by multidisciplinary artist Sondra Perry, recent work by interdisciplinary artist and writer Coco Fusco and a program exploring contemporary 3D simulations, curated by Rachel Clarke, Claudia Hart, and Pat Reynolds. Stay tuned for full schedule details!

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