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Spring 2005 Film & Video Artists Series

LECTURE HALL 6 AT 8:00 PM (Unless otherwise noted)
Series sponsored by Filmmakers Coop & Cinema Department

Tuesday March 1, Please note:  7:00 PM
Ken Jacobs" Star Spangled to Death - Part 1

cast: Jack Smith, Jerry Sims, Gib Taylor, Bill Carpenter, Cecilia Swan,
Distinguished Professor Emeritus brings out a movie selected by the Los Angeles Film Critics as Best Independent/Experimental for 2004; Jim Hoberman, and other critics of the Village Voice, select movie as Best Film of 2004. Running time 200'

star spangled image

Ken Jacob's life's work, an epic of the 'underground' cinema. A 'desperately beautiful immersion in childish behavior and political despair' with the great underground performer and film maker Jack Smith and 'found' movies that themselves offer a portrait of America, then and now.

Star Spangled to Death is an epic film costing hundreds of dollars! An antic collage combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming (I once said directing Jack and Jerry was like directing the wind). It is a social critique picturing a stolen and dangerously sold out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Race and religion and monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war become props for clowning. In whimsy we trusted. A handful of artists costumed and performing unconvincingly appeal to audience imagination and understanding to complete the picture. Jack Smith's pre-Flaming Creatures performance is a cine-visitation of the divine (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions). His character, The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living, celebrates Suffering, personified by poor, rattled, fierce Jerry Sims, as an inextricable essence of living. Is this video the real thing? In the winter of 1959 editing facilities were two nails in a wall holding two film reels and an enlarging glass and in 2003 a G4 with Final Cut Pro. Better to figure the entirety as another entry in my found-film oeuvre. I did drop some found-films from the original collage, including all biographic elements (like my maybe-father's third-wedding home movies), replacing with items more on track with central concerns of the work. Stuff gathered over the years with SSTD in mind, only some that could be squeezed into its ultimate realization. The Follies entered sometime in the Sixties, the Micheaux's Ten Minutes To Live entered my life with a bang in 1968 (being up there with the greatest; the DVD of SSTD should by rights be a double-feature with Ten Minutes To Live seeing as the titles go so well together) but only infiltrated SSTD during this latest editing. Ronald Reagan and the twerp presiding now, how ignore them? Perhaps with precisely the same pitch of outrage as my younger self I would not have made any concessions to audience capacity, only added things. There's friends, I know, that will be glum over what they will perceive as signs of an orderly mind. My head, inside, isn't all that different from what it was, I didn't become someone else, but I did get the work together and, in a profound way, that's the problem. It was supposed to lie in a jumbled heap, errant energies going nowhere, the talented viewer inferring form. A Frankenstein that fizzled but twitching and still dangerous to approach. Thoroughly star spangled but still kicking. - Ken Jacobs
For post-screening Q&A contact Ken Jacobs by e-mail!

Wednesday March 2, Please Note 7 PM
Ken Jacobs' Star Spangled to Death - Part 2
Jack Smith, Jerry Sims, Gib Taylor, Bill Carpenter, Cecilia Swan,
Distinguished Professor Emeritus brings out a movie selected by the Los Angeles Film Critics as Best Independent/Experimental for 2004; Jim Hoberman, and other critics of the Village Voice, select movie as Best Film of 2004.
See Feb 8 description.- Running time 180'
For post-screening Q&A contact Ken Jacobs by e-mail!

Wednesday March16
*Bruce McClure's Intra-Articulated Rushes: Film performance.

bruce mcclure image

Crib and Sift (2002-04, projector still-lifes for four modified projectors and four 16mm film prints made from an ink sprayed original), Circle Jerks (2002, 15 mins, four projectors with variable transformers, focus on film plane, coloured gels, digital delays/graphic equalizers), Presepe(2004, 15 mins, four projectors fitted with brass plates, focus on the brass inserts, b&w, silent), Chiodo (2004, 15 mins, four projectors fitted with brass plates, focus on gates, b&w, digital delays/graphic equalizers);

His work has been shown at the Whitney Biennial 2004; Expanded Cinema Film Festival Dortmond Germany; Evolution Film Festival 2004, Leeds, UK; Op Film Festival, Cinema De Baile, Amsterdam; School of Film & Video, Prague Czech Republic; and Technical School in Brno Czech Republic.

McClure makes work about the time-based, three-dimensional properties of light and projection. He was recently invited to be one of the featured artists in the upcoming Whitney Biennial, the Museum's signature survey of contemporary American art.

 Of his projective film work, McClure writes, "Often misconceived as abstract, these films insist on a tautological obsession with the thing and nothing other than the thing. Technically, many of the works that will be shown exist only in the uniqueness of an evening's performance and consist of modified projectors operated simultaneously. Presented to the eyes and ears, film and our experience of it, part ways, emphasizing at least two separate and real substances."

"In a darkened theater, occupied by an audience, the film is metered out and exposed to light by the jerk and shutter of cinematic mechanisms that modify the darkened intervals between frames. Cinematic potential becomes active by the electrical leaps of light through the window into the space of the brain's emulsion.' Simultaneously using four modified 16mm film projectors, Bruce McClure creates live cinematic light performances by superimposing and manipulating the film frame."

Thursday March 10
Michael Gitlin
The Bird People. 2004 61 minutes
A new Documentary, which recently premiered at The Museum of Modern Art.

michael gitlin

NYC Filmmaker and faculty from Hunter College, Michael Gitlin, will show his new documentary, which is currently making the rounds of major festivals and exhibition venues. In The Bird People:"A loosely-knit community of birdwatchers in New York's Central Park; ornithologists with their specimen collections at a dozen different natural history museums; bird banders gingerly extracting birds from mist nets and collecting data in upstate New York; six people searching for an extinct bird in a Louisiana bayou: these are the strands that are woven together by The Birdpeople as it documents a fixation. Part cultural history, part self-reflexive anthropology, The Birdpeople investigates the social construction of nature, centered on ornithology and its amateur counterpart, birdwatching

The story of the disappearance of the ivorybill is not only about what has vanished, it's also about what remains. There are over 400 ivory-billed woodpecker study skins or specimen mounts in natural history museums and university collections around the world. The Birdpeople gathers together dozens of ivorybill specimens as a kind of impossible recuperation of the species, an elegiac recovery through images, that uses as its centerpiece the early 19th-century artist and naturalist Alexander Wilson's heartbreaking account of his encounter with an ivorybill in a Wilmington North Carolina hotel room.

The images of birds in the film, optically printed from Kodachrome Super 8, form a re-occurring counterpoint to the portraits of the bird people. Rather than bringing the birds into an anthropomorphized and sympathetic relationship to the viewer, these worked-over images foreground the birds' inassimilable otherness and the strange edges of their beauty.

Monday April 4
*James Benning's  Thirteen Lakes
 (2004, 135min) 16mm 

james benning's image

The American film maker James Benning has been one of the outstanding exponents of the structural film since the mid-1970s. Benning's artistic position has been strongly influenced by mathematics and by the creativity of mathematical thinking. With his new project 13 Lakes, James Benning goes one step further towards reducing things to a minimum. The film focuses on thirteen large American lakes (including Salton Sea, Lake Powell and Lake Michigan) along with their geographical and historical relationship to the landscape. The documentary James Benning -Circling the Image was occasioned by 13 Lakes, and was shot in California, Arizona, and Utah. It accompanies the artist for a week as he searches for locations and as he films the first two shots for his own film. It shows the artist on his travels, the unrelenting search for appropriate places and motifs, Bennings relationship towards the landscape, and the loneliness connected to the work. James Benning talks elaborately about his working method, his relationship towards the US as well as his opinions about himself as an artist and a film maker. This film -which includes poignant fragments of his work and has stylistic similarities to Benning's works -is Rainer Wulf's first feature length documentary.
Benning currently teaches filmmaking at the California Institute for the Arts.

Tuesday April 19
Black Maria Film Festival

One of the finest film and video festival in the country, the Black Maria Festival consistently features in its juries well known cinema luminaries and filmmakers such as this year's Jennifer Reeves.  The festival which is based in Jersey City, New Jersey travels to over 50 venues across the country and offers an excellent opportunity to get a sense of what is currently being made in the independent film & video arena. This screening will feature the best of the festival.

Wednesday April 27
Martin Arnold

Newly hired BU cinema faculty, a highly recognized film and installation artist, Martin will show:
passage a l'acte, 1993
alone. life wastes andy hardy, 1998
excerpts of the deanimated documentation, 2002
a documentation of Dissociated, 2003
and maybe excerpts of a new piece.

martin-arnold image

His films have been written about in numerous publications, as well as recognized by numerous awards and exhibitions at prestigious American and European Museums and festivals. Deanimated and other installations are currently showing at the Kunsthalle Wien, one of the main exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Vienna.

Deanimated:    A Study in Disappearance, a Process of Deanimation, a Protocol of the Collapse of Communication. Martin Arnold, one of Austria's most distinguished experimental filmmakers, has created his latest work, Deanimated, on the foil of the conventional horror film The Invisible Ghost (USA, 1941), starring Bela Lugosi. Through digital compositing characters are removed from the scenario during the course of events, mouths are morphed shut, dialogues mutilated. Towards the end of the film the camera's gaze glides through largely deserted sets until finally an impenetrable blackness descends that lasts for several minutes, taking the traditional narrative to point zero. The film, marked by symptomatic disappearances and a dissipation of language, tells a different story than did The Invisible Ghost. It is a far more open-ended and mysterious story, one that elevates the plot to the plateau of an existential self-examination. Entrances of minor characters suddenly assume a central axiality to the action, emphatically surging music no longer underlines dramatic climaxes but rather an arid uneventfulness and the aimlessly searching camera appears to be desperately seeking the solution to some mystery. When the film is over, viewers of Deanimated can echo the central question raised by one of the main characters: "Oh my God, what happened here?" The Deanimated exhibition at the KUNSTHALLE wien shows this new 60-minute work by Martin Arnold as an installation with slight elements of bewilderment that throw the classic viewer's situation of the cinema into disarray. In addition to the retouched version of The Invisible Ghost, two other works by Arnold are on view, Forsaken and Dissociated, which equally involve emblematic movie scenes and through loops and dual projections further differentiate the theme of disappearance. The Deanimated exhibition raises fundamental questions regarding the relationship between presence and absence, communication and speechlessness, animated nature and the ontological void, portraying the aesthetic and narrative system of feature films in a state of its own collapse.

*These artists screenings are funded in part by Presentation Funds from the Experimental Television Center which is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts. Series is co-sponsored by Harpur College Dean's Office.

Info: 607-777-4998

Last Updated: 8/25/16