2013 Images Blog 6 Andrew James Paterson
Sun. Apr. 14 - Mon. Apr. 15
After fulfilling other chores and obligations in the afternoon, I attended the On Screen programme Sleight of Hand. This was another tight programme largely focussing on quirky phenomena and on properties of the film medium itself. I stress film here, as four of the eight works in the programme were realized and then projected on 35mm film and two others on 16mm.
Torque, by Bjorn Kammerer, was a tracking shot about tracks ¾ railway tracks. The tracking was sideways rather than the more usual or traditional forward motion or revealing pullback. Anything with tracking shots suggests suspense, as in when is something else going to happen. And KammererÕs film pulled the viewer in different directions and then peacefully concluded. Torque was pleasantly succeeded by Peter millerÕs Ten Minutiae ¾ ten little cinematic details that make the medium go round (or rectangular orÉ). Why, at one point Miller had three train travel segments running side by side. The Lumiere Brothers did predate the airplane, and trains are still a location where phenomena happen.
Early Figure, by Brian Virostek, utilized close-up lenses to reveal the nooks and crannies of a piano in its disassembly and subsequent reassembly. The piano is indeed an architectural structure. Fern SilvaÕs Passage Upon the Plume continues exploration of black and white fragments and continues this programmes black and whiteness. But now Mark LoeserÕs Sugar Beach introduces colour, with fixed camera multiple exposed various coloured dots. Sugar Beach ingeniously segues into Kevin Jerome EversonÕs Stone, in which a shell gamer endlessly and effortlessly juggles three coloured stones for a midway audience. The shell gamer is a magician and a con-artist and he is in video, which at first seemed to disrupt the programme but didnÕt really.
Simon QuehiellardÕs Maitre-Vent (Master Wind) depicts a series of attempted sculptures by a performer at a roadside too close to the constant traffic. He attempts to combine incompatible elements, and either passing trucks or the wind itself force an inevitable collapse. The humour and the frustration lies in the performerÕs persistence in constructing failures. The programme notes suggest Buster Keaton and the artist Roman Signer; I think of Fischli and WeissÕs The Way Things Go but ultimately Beckett. I canÕt go on, I must go on. And on.
This programme concluded with JB MabeÕs Addy CHOO (not achooo but a sneezing sound) which merges low-end video, wildly coloured Kodachome, and animations perhaps found in the artistÕs attic but not his computer. The film is made around but not of a funeral. KodachromeÕs? AnalogueÕs? Hands-On-ness? Whatever, but may you rest in peace.
I find myself haunted by Filipino director John TorresÕ Lukas The Strange, a feature film which was shown Sunday evening when I had already had a long day. At least one narrative was already in progress when the film began, and there was a film within a film which sometimes drew attention to itself and sometimes didnÕt seem to. The film was (quite gorgeously) shot in verite mode, yet the tone veered between realism and fabulism. At times I thought of Terence MalickÕs films in which narrative and pure visuals for their own sake uneasily co-exist; yet Lukas The Strange was seemed very site-specific (and nation specific?), and not only for its commitment to location shooting. Why were subtitles sometimes capitalized? I had the feeling there was something allegorical happening here that I couldnÕt decipher and I wasnÕt sure that I was meant to. Why canÕt fabulism (or surrealism) appear to be realistic? Whatever. Young LukasÕs life was certainly complicated by the disappearance of his father, who was rumoured to be a tikbalang ¾ half man and half horse. Does this mean that Lukas has inherited this condition or blessing? TorresÕ film was truly liquid, with answers to mysteries being found underwater along with so much more. Lukas The Strange was preceded by Kathy RughÕs short film Light Streaming, which is what the title adequately lays out. A series of liquid locations across the United States are edited into a stream that seems to bypass land, which cannot provide the illuminations that water is so metaphysically capable of providing.
On Monday night I attended the programme Rhythm and Reflection, including six works. These works were linked by portraiture, and a portraiture concerned with fathers and father-figures and inspirational friendships. John SmithÕs DadÕs Stick (dad was a painter and Smith just might be the driest filmmaker of all time) was joined by JB MabeÕs Pasture, which appropriated and reframed Stan BrakhageÕs Stellar while adding further abstractions and digitized low-end (Windows Movie Maker!) video stock while retaining Big DaddyÕs BrakhageÕs rhythmic template. (Note: my spell-check suggests Breakage for Brakhage) Also further abstracting fatherhood was Kevin Jerome EversonÕs CharlieÕs Proof, in which a man from Columbus, Mississippi ignores documentary protocol yet testifies to his own perseverance and survival by wit. I Remember: A Film about Joe Brainard (by Matt Wolf) opens up traditional documentary practices by focussing on a lifelong friendship between artist Brainard and poet Ron Padgett, by means of home movies and fifties found footage. ÒFatherÓ here can refer to men who look up to each other and play off each other.
And then there was Scott StarkÕs Bloom, in which archival footage of oil drilling (the father) was collaged with floral imagery and audio from, of all things, The Sound of Music. The musical structuring of StarkÕs film (top of the programme) anticipates Elizabeth PriceÕs WoolworthÕs Choir (end of the programme). This work by Turner-Prize winning Price is truly symphonic. In three movements, she associates architectural details of chapels in which choirs perform (choirs, chorals, quires, et cetera), pop musical footage which is deliriously distorted while not necessarily requiring (re-choiring?) drugs, and news footage of a notorious 1979 fire in a Manchester department store (WoolworthÕs the father?). Price uses a recurring snap sound not only as an editing embellishment but as a motion purveyor. Her video is truly orchestral ¾ it blends hidden crevices and treasures with amplified everyday media and makes a local disaster truly apocalyptic. And, on that note, off to bed and sweet dreams.