The program celebrates the publication of Millennium Film Journal No. 65 “Architecture On Screen and Off” with works featured in the issue (with one exception). The title refers to recent moving-image artists’ considerations of the built environment and its connection with character, politics, social norms, class, race, gender, money. The hot-button issues. The issue also includes three texts about early video, an interview with Jesse McLean, and an artist pages essay by Tom Sherman. The program reflects the many subjects addressed in MFJ 65.
All program notes below, except the last one, are excerpted from MFJ 65.
Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, IS THIS MUSIC? (1971, 5 mins excerpt, PortoPak original)
The provocative, freewheeling Is This Music? reveals substantial overlaps between Tsuno’s and Alpert’s early, experimental video art and their later media practices [. . .]This comic or parodied sense of patriotism foresees the sharply critical perspective of their later exposés on American government and foreign conflicts, while also exemplifying the playful attitude that distinguished Alpert’s and Tsuno’s work from the staunch nationalism of the period, as well as the seriousness of their art-video peers.”
• Joel Neville Anderson, “(Community) Video Art: DCTV’s Expanded Documentary Practice”
Jamie Fenton and Raul Zaritsky, DIGITAL TV DINNER (1978 2:42 mins, VHS original)
Digital TV Dinner portends future engagements with the ‘materiality’ of the digital signal as an intervention in the execution of programming code within the computer system itself. The early date of this tape, coupled with the approach to creating its visuals, make it one of the first, if not the very first, “glitch” video… The process [involved in the] creation of this audio-visual work is one that emphasizes the performative over (and against) the explicitly programmed.”
• Michael Betancourt, “The Invention of Glitch Video: Digital TV Dinner”
Marianna Simnett, THE NEEDLE AND THE LARYNX (2016, 15:17 mins)
Surpassing a reiteration of the critique of traditional gender oppositions, Simnett’s artistic practice undermines the binary taxonomy of male-female using original, radical methodologies. The Needle and the Larynxinvites the viewer to consider the larger performative apparatuses, determined by social constructs, which actuate distinctions inherent to our ideology: antagonisms in the guise of affirmations of identity.
• Melvin Harper, “Syringes and Mosquitoes”
Pipilotti Rist, PICKELPORNO (1992, 12:02 mins)
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
Rist, a Swiss video artist and musician, has been expanding video art since the 1980s, ceaselessly reinventing forms, shredding restraints, dissolving dualistic divisions. Saturated colors, images, songs, spaces, and genres mix and morph into playful and provocative arcadias. If such a fluid artist could possibly have a system, you might say she systematically reimagines a relationship between the body, the viewing experience, and the image, bringing them ever closer to one another… A certain cleanliness and commercial aplomb leave us with the impression of a fairytale caught somewhere between the Grimm’s Brothers’ dark and grotesque original and the sanitized, cheery rendition produced by the Disney empire.
• Rachel Stevens, “Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum”
Tom Sherman, BIRDS LISTENING (2012, 2:19 mins)
Tom Sherman, SEE THE TEXT COMES TO READ YOU (2016, 7:48 mins)
Analog is akin to water, where digital is atmospheric and similar to static electricity in the air. It builds up in tiny atomistic events until a sheet of flashing light discharges the tension and resets the whole environment. The digital crosses the divide in an instant, if a path is available. Analog, meanwhile, sloshes around wet and cool in concentric circles, in materialized echoes, every connection a continuum. Analog instruments are vessels. They have to be sealed to prevent leaking. Analog signals overflow and flood circuits as a matter of course. Stability is a relative concept as depth creates pressure and there is always movement on the surface. Analog wetness can be contained if a little mess can be tolerated. Digital dryness has its own rigid structure until it reaches a climax and then snaps. (
• Tom Sherman, “Is the Imagination Analog or Digital?”
Jesse McLean, SEE A DOG, HEAR A DOG (2016, 18 mins)
We want to communicate not only with each other but with nonhuman animals and other conscious beings, but the way we experience the world is anthropocentric. We understand these kind of nonhuman connections on human terms, so there’s a level of the unknown and a lot of trust. I related this to the trust we place in the cinematic image/sound relationship, the fragility built into the whole endeavor of communication. Some people find the idea of a sentient, communicative machine inevitable and exciting, some find it nightmarish. People talk to inanimate objects all the time, but it is experienced as a one-sided conversation. With animals, it’s different as they obviously are conscious beings, but still, it’s a connection reliant on trust and a level of uncertainty. Humans most likely communicate far more than they realize to animals, and vice versa. Perhaps with objects it’s the same …
• Jesse McLean on See a Dog, Hear a Dog from Eli Horwatt, “Connect and Rupture”
Ja’Tovia Gary, AN ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE (2015, 6 mins)
(to be discussed in MFJ 66 in Grahame Weinbren’s review of the 2017 Ann Arbor and Oberhausen Film Festivals)