Shane Jones & Tom Roberge
This is my last post on Everyday Genius... so to mark the end of an era (aka month), I sat down with Shane Jones and Tom Roberge. I've "known" Shane since 2009 when Adam Robinson (coolest guy ever!) mailed me a copy of the Publishing Genius version of Light Boxes after I had written about it on my blog. This led to me "meeting" Shane online, which led to me making his book trailers, which led me to me actually meeting him in person, which led to me working on turning Light Boxes into a film. At the time, Tom worked at Penguin as an editor on their version of Light Boxes and now we are all friends! Long story short: thank god for the internet!
I actually was quite interested in hearing how any type of visual art might inspire their work and, as you will see if you watch the video, was excited like a wee little girl when Shane started listing off all of my most favorite films, artists, etc... (Note: Unfortunately, somehow the first clip of the video was deleted by my computer.. Maybe when I banged my laptop against a metal electrical box on the subway platform on the way home? IDK. What you missed is my introducing them, Tom talking about a lot of art films he loves that are really dark, plus a lot of discussion over "Independence Day" & Will Smith. Granted, I was slightly bummed when I realized the intro clip went missing, however I managed to salvage a lot of good comments on experimental film.)
I've enjoyed being the January editor for Everyday Genius - thanks for reading/watching!!
Shane Jones: is a novelist, short story writer, and poet. He is most known for his novels Light Boxes and Daniel Fights A Hurricane. // Tom Roberge: Formerly an editor at Penguin Books, and the editor for the Penguin release of Light Boxes, Tom is currently the Publicity & Marketing Director at New Directions.
*Alternative titles for this post: Sitting With 2 Cool People in the Morning, Welcome to Erf , Everything I Like Tom Hated, and Everyday Genius: Handsome Friends Edition
Here are some of the films/artists that we talk about in the video if you want to watch them:
Ryan Trecartin: A bunch of people suggested I write up Trecartin this month, but for some reason I didn't. I don't hate, I appreciate, but IDK. I feel like I used to make this stuff with my friend Danny or Tao or alone at 4am when I was a drunk back in 2008. Still, he's making a bunch of points with his work that people seem to respond to - he's only won every award ever. His videos comment on social media, pop culture, the internet, etc etc etc etc... discuss amongst yourselves...
Kenneth Anger: I did a whole post dedicated to Kenneth Anger, though no matter how much factual information from interviews or wiki I regurgitate, I can never do his work, or his impact on experimental film, or music videos, or the occult in art, justice. The film which Shane points out as having an impact on his novel "Daniel Fights A Hurricane" is Eaux d'Artifice:
Harmony Korine: He made KIDS, and he made Trash Humpers, he's made several films, but also Gummo - which I found a bit hard to watch at times, as is most of his work -- though as Shane says, there is a dark humor and beauty to his work which depicts screwed up truths about America and humanity... Shane talked about the scene where everyone is fighting a chair. In an interview Korine says: On the last day of shooting, Escoffier shot the chair-wrestling kitchen scene alone with a rigged boom on his camera. Some people had just gotten out of prison and Korine felt the performance would be greater if he wasn't in the room. The crew shut all the doors and turned off all the monitors, so no one knew what was going on. In between takes, Korine would run in and get everyone hyped up. At the end of the scene there is a moment of silence where no one knows what to do next. Korine comments, "When I saw that in the dailies, it amazed me, because Jean Yves really captured that awkwardness, that sad silence; it was beautiful." Here is a trailer for Gummo:
David Lynch, Eraserhead/Mulholland Drive: If you want to see me get really excited, just start talking to me about Eraserhead. I love everything about that film, as well as it's back story. I could go on and on and on, but I will spare you. Tom said he prefers Mulholland Drive -- Here are the trailers:
I first saw Allison Schulnik's work on Vimeo when several of her videos became "Staff Picks" (Ahh the wonders of the internet....). Her works uses mixed media such as clay, oils and illustrations, to create surreal creatures and environments that melt and reform over and over. It's sort of like old school Sesame Street claymation taken to the next level; the level where it becomes creepy and dark and more awesome.
Born in 1978 (San Diego, CA), Schulnik earned her BFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (CA). She has had solo exhibitions at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OK), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (KS), Rokeby Gallery (London), Unosunove Arte Contemporanea (Rome), Division Gallery (Montreal), and ZieherSmith Gallery (NY), in addition to her inclusion in film festivals around the world. Her work has also been shown at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (Moscow), Hammer Museum (CA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), Santa Barbara Museum of Art (CA), Contemporary Arts Museum (LA), and Hangar-7 (Salzburg), among many others. Allison Schulnik is in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (KS), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (CA), Santa Barbara Art Museum (CA), Museé de Beaux Arts (Montreal), Farnsworth Art Museum (ME), Laguna Art Museum (CA), Monteal Contemporary Art Museum (Canada), and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada). The artist lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
James Yeh on Greece, Sherri Hay, Marco Brambilla and Jonas Mekas
|James Yeh in my East Village Apartment, NYC 2008|
I really can't remember how I first met James Yeh. It may have been at a reading at Melville House, or it may have been at these big art parties I used to throw for artists and writers at the Chelsea Hotel... either way, James captured my attention with his dry sense of humor, matter-of-fact tone of voice and ability to integrate fine art into the writerly Brooklyn scene with the beautifully designed, beautifully curated and always interesting; Gigantic Magazine.
I tried to do a video chat with James, who is currently in Greece working on his novel, but due to my total last-minute meltdown over some LED lights for a fiber optic fur I was rigging (#madgeniusproblems), plus a bad head cold, I had to cancel our video session. He was so kind to do the interview via email... which is awesome, so read the interview below and watch some of James Yeh's favorite experimental videos!
E: How do you feel about being in Greece?
JY: …Happy? …Relaxed? Things that are impossible to feel in New York? Though nowhere, of course, is perfect. We’ve been getting phone calls from people speaking English with Indian accents asking about a computer. There are more ants here than it seems in the US. But yeah, it’s important not to get over how lucky and appreciative I am to be here.
E: What's the first thing that happened where you were like "Woah I'm in Greece!"?
JY: It was probably something to do with the sheep, or the goats, or maybe the long-lashed donkey that was tied up outside the mini-market.
E: What on earth are you doing there?
JY: I’m here for a writing residency, obliquely through the Center for Fiction in Manhattan, where I was a fellow last year. Ostensibly I am completing the novel I started six years ago. I also go on walks with my girlfriend.
E: What's the Greek film scene like? Do you know of anyone who did anything notable in experimental film or video art who came from there?
JY: I’m sadly (and completely) unaware. The closest thing to Greek experimental film we have here is the old TV with Greek cable that we haven’t bothered to watch.
E: Are you into experimental film?
JY: Definitely. Though I have to admit I’m not terribly knowledgeable. Part of this is simply an excuse to hang out again with you.
E: Who are some of your most favorite experimental filmmakers or video artists?
JY: I’m a fairly recent fan of Jonas Mekas and Mike Kelley. I also really loved the installation that was first presented at a beautiful church downtown, I’m forgetting the name; now it lives in the elevator of the Standard Hotel, of all places. Civilization by Marco Brambilla..(video below). Did you see it?
E: I hadn't, but I just watched it and... dayum!! Beautiful, intricate and also disorientating...
Marco Brambilla is a Milan-born, New York-based video collage and installation artist, known for his elaborate recontextualizations of popular and found imagery, which Vanity Fair praises as “critiques and masterpieces of visual overload.”
JY: There’s also, of course, Christian Marclay’s The Clock, which I’ve now gone to see twice. But those last two are things I can’t imagine trying to do in fiction. They are perhaps best left being admired (and a little feared). La jetée is probably my most favorite experimental film ever.
E: Does visual work (of any kind) ever inspire your writing?
JY: Definitely. I was very inspired, for instance, by the Jonas Mekas videos that I found from your EG post earlier this month. The video I liked the best was this one (Cinema Is Not 100 Years Old), where he’s dancing around in a funny hat as the word “terrorist” flashes onscreen. Later, because he is at home, his son runs around behind him, hitting a ball with a racket. There’s something so beautiful, funny, and natural about it all. His idea of his life as “moving ahead,” “occasionally see[ing] brief glimpses of beauty” is amazing to me.
I’ve also been interested in comics since, really, I was an adolescent, but now, more seriously. Particularly in way tone and pacing can be done. I am consistently inspired by the work of Gabrielle Bell, though some of that is due to her writing, dialogue, and pacing, which I find impressive. I was recently blown away by Chris Ware’s Building Stories. Really blown away. To see him doing that is almost discouraging. But that’s good, too. It puts things in perspective.
E: Do you ever showcase experimental film or video art through Gigantic?
JY: We recently featured work by artist Sherri Hay that included video here. A few years earlier we hosted a preview to Paul Willerton's Little Big Cremaster 3, as well as the full version of Little Big Cremaster 2, both of which are series based on Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. The link is here. We’d like to do more.
Video: Wish You Were Here—Park by Sheri Hay (2007)
E: Remember when we made that video a long time ago, and you talked about Jeff Goldblum? Are you still a big fan of his?
JY: Haha, I do remember that. I’ll always remember Jeff Goldblum for answering that phone in Annie Hall.
Want to give any shout outs of any kind?
JY: Na. Thank you for taking the time to interview me!
James Yeh is a writer & editor living in BK, NY. He has recent work in NOON, Fence, Tin House, Vice, PEN America and is a founding editor of Giganticmag. Yeh is also a 2011 Center for Fiction Fellow... and now he's chilling in Greece.
Read some James Yeh here on Everyday Genius!
Gary Hill "Incidence of Catastrophe"
I chose Gary Hill today because of an interesting conversation I had with author Shane Jones over the weekend, during which he talked about the imagery from films that inspired certain scenes in Daniel Fights A Hurricane. (will post the interview this week!) I'm always very intrigued by the cross-overs between disciplines and how they inspire artists. Whether it is film inspiring a novel, or one artist being inspired by, and engaging in multiple forms of self expression. Someone tweeted at me sarcastically that I should include the lip syncing videos James Franco makes - but to be honest, I do not think it would be totally invalid. I feel inspired by the mixture of mediums and disciplines etc... as well as the ever growing threshold of what "video art" or "experimental video" is.
In Incidence of Catastrophe (1987) Hill is working from a novel, in the opposite way in which Shane spoke to me about working off of an image. In a way it reminds me of the book trailers I've made for Shane, in which he sent me the novel and I created all of the images that came to mind when reading it. Could Incidence of Catastrophe be the long-form, first attempt at what would later be morphed into the idea of "book trailer"?
He doesn't allow embedding of his videos, so to watch the full video click HERE.
From Hill's Vimeo: Inspired by the novel Thomas the Obscure by Maurice Blanchot wherein the protagonist of the novel is the reader of the novel he is in (who may well be Blanchot himself). In the video, Thomas the protagonist is played by Hill which confounds the self-reflexive nature of the book’s relationships all the more, making the video something of a “transcreation.” The “reader” begins in the liquidity of the text almost as if he were waking from drowning. Images of the sea ravishing the shore – small cliffs of sand eroding and collapsing – are inter-cut with extreme close-ups of text and the texture of the page and book itself being flooded with ocean waves. In scene after scene the reader attempts to re-enter the book only to find himself a part of intense dreams and hallucinations. Thomas/Hill reads the book, when, suddenly, he feels he is being watched by the words. The character then experiences the book as a forest of words he is fighting through. Another “chapter” finds him alone in his room at night, overcome by a strange illness, in which the vision of the text has him vomiting violently. The text infiltrates the reader’s entire experience. Thinking he is still capable of functioning socially, the character finds himself at dinner with a group of hotel guests. Their conversation turns into isolated words that, like the sand, erode and wash away with seemingly all possibilities of meaning. The final scene shows the reader in the form of Hill physically and mentally destroyed. Cowering naked in the fetal position, he lies in his own excrement on a white-tiled floor, babbling unintelligible sounds. The pages of the book have grown into monumental walls with colossal letters that menacingly surround and imprison the naked body.
Charles Atlas "Hail the New Puritan" [Excerpt]
Media-dance!! If I had my way, this is the kind of stuff I would be making all of the time with my friends (read: Jimmy my producer / art director friend / receiver of hundreds of daily emails from me - some of which are about how badly I want to make crazy stuff like this video.) I don't know what to say other than this is pure art.
Hail the New Puritan is a fictionalized documentary about the Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark. It was directed by Charles Atlas. Production design is by Leigh Bowery, who also appears.
- Hail the New Puritan at Electronic Arts Intermix
Does anyone else think this may have been some inspiration for Prince's collaboration with The Joffrey for Billboards? One of the ballets that is the key to my heart? (And also has ass exposed leotards as costumes)
Last night as I was sitting in an office in Soho waiting for 800 gigs of footage to transfer, my DP asked me if I had watched La jetée yet. I hadn't because I basically don't do anything this year except work. Luckily I had 3 hours to kill during the transfer, so he pulled up the film on his computer. It's not very long, (about half an hour) and quite beautiful... It's black and white with very little motion. In fact, it only has one scene that was shot on a motion-picture camera and boy is it lovely. I also was particularly taken with the sound design. I love white noise, whispers, heart beats... it takes things to another level. What's also interesting is this film is what inspired 12 Monkeys starring Brad Pitt. The film is also one of the influences in the video for David Bowie's "Jump They Say".
Nam June Paik / Charlotte Moorman "Opera Sextronique" turned "TV Bra for Living Sculpture" + "Electronic Super Highway"
Paik is a Korean-American artist who is widely considered to be the first video artist. Early in his career he was apart of the Neo-Dada art movement inspired by John Cage and his use of everyday sounds and noises in his music.
Once Paik moved to New York he formed a long standing collaborative relationship with classical cellist Charlotte Moorman to combine his video, music, and performance. In the work TV Cello, the pair stacked televisions on top of one another, so that they formed the shape of an actual cello. When Moorman drew her bow across the "cello," images of her and other cellists playing appeared on the screens. Though Paik has made many videos, had many multi-media performances, what initially gained him notoriety was Opera Sextronique, during which Moorman was arrested for performing topless and convicted for lewd conduct. As a result of her arrest in NY, and the press it gained, a law was passed to allow nudity in performance art. Here she is talking about it in an interview, which is pretty amazing....
The piece which originally was banned by the NY police, was later performed as an alternate version and recorded with Moorman wearing a tv bra and renamed "TV Bra for Living Sculpture" (posted above).
Paik also is credited with coining the term "Electronic Super Highway" and he used the phrase as the title for this piece:
You can read more about the huge impace Paik had on not only the arts, but also technology, here.
Christian Marclay "The Clock"
So today's post was supposed to me talking with James Yeh in Greece, however that has been postponed due to my yet-to-be formally diagnosed problem of taking on 5 million jobs at once. Then I was on set all weekend long dealing with way more than I had allotted time for, meaning I didn't even get to go with the back up plan, which was interviewing my crew about their take on experimental video... so today I'm posting "The Clock"
Have you seen The Clock? I haven't and I've been kicking myself over it time and time again. First I missed it at Lincoln Center and now I will have missed it at MOMA, due to the problem I mentioned above.
In short Marclay is the creator of sound "collages" or sound design, using only turn tables, records, gramophones and instruments. He is well known in the experimental genre and has even performed with Sonic Youth (!!!). He is also well known for his visual art.
According to The New Yorker article I read, Marclay spends A LOT of time sitting in a chair going through footage. I remember it saying something like, he aged 3 years just sorting footage. Sounds kind of horrible, until he puts together this amazing piece (I'm saying "amazing" based on the conceptual aspect of it, as I noted I've not actually seen it) which is a clock of sorts in and of itself. "...it is made of a 24-hour montage of thousands of time-related scenes from movies and some TV shows, meticulously edited to be shown in “real time”: each scene contains an indication of time (for instance, a timepiece, or a piece of dialogue) that is synchronized to show the actual time".
So there you have it. Hopefully someday I can see "the cinematic tour de force" and winner of the Golden Lion award at the 2011 Venice Biennale, in real time.
Randomly, someone messaged me on Facebook asking me to show their poetry videos. I truly love when people like Erin J. Mullikin write me to comment on the posts I'm making here. I wish more people would write me with their work (wink, wink).. so check out their link.
Miranda July "Are You The Favorite Person of Anybody?"
I donno about this one, I'm always on the fence when it comes to Miranda July. There is something sort of "cutesy" about her and her work, even her name. Is that her real name? I guess it doesn't matter a lot of people don't work under their real name. I don't. But I have to give it to her, she is a woman getting independent feature films made, awarded, and recognized. She is very popular.
She deals a lot with insecurity, relationships etc.. but what I'm most interested in is her ability to use a sense of community in her work, incorporating several people's viewpoints, and not just her collaborators - but rather complete strangers. She also does a lot of mixing performance art, video art, writing etc.. and I'm always very interested in interdisciplinary artists.
Oskar Fischinger "Optical Poem"
Oskar Fischinger was a German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter, notable for inventing abstract musical animations many decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos. He created special effects for Fritz Lang's 1929 Woman In The Moon, one of the first sci-fi rocket movies. He also made over 50 short animated films, and painted around 800 canvases, many of which are in museums, galleries and collections worldwide. Among his film works is Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), which is now listed on the National Film Registry of the U. S. Library of Congress.
An Optical Poem grew out of a short sequence at the end of Fischinger's earlier, independently-produced Composition in Blue (1935), in which a group of circles rise from the background and, in depth, head toward the viewer. Such effects would form the basis for the entirety of the new film. This sort of stop-motion animation work is slow enough, but consider that Fischinger was not moving rigid metal model joints, but lightweight pieces suspended by thin lines and thus prone to sway he had to make sure each piece was steady before making his exposure. The artist used a broomstick with a feather attached at the end as a "steadier." Moritz further pointed out that "as in most of Oskar's films, complex choreography often required a dozen figures to move simultaneously, some in the same direction, but others at a different angle or direction, so each exposure was slow and had to be carefully monitored."
Oskar Fischinger's contract with MGM contained an option for the studio to commission the animator for more films, but a financial dispute put a quick end to any such notion. The same year that MGM released An Optical Poem, the studio created their own in-house animation unit headed by Fred Quimby, the type of executive that had absolutely no interest in abstraction in his cartoons. Within a few years, Tom & Jerry were the resident cartoon stars at MGM, and their shorts would often become the Oscar®-winners for the year. Following his MGM experience, Fischinger briefly acted as an uncredited consultant on Disney's Fantasia (1940), and he went on to produce five more independent shorts, from 1941 to 1952.
Jason Akira Somma
"My Heart Swells"
Commissioned by Robert Wilson for the Guggenheim Museum (NYC) March 2011. This video was made completely analog in real time with no computers involved.
I read this Time Out New York article on Jason Akira Somma last year right around the time of his show at Location One, which was later covered by Creators Project (a personal favorite of mine). What drew me into his work most was the fact that he came from a dance background, having worked with greats like Bill T. Jones and incorporating legends like Baryshnikov (swoon) into his pieces. In the interview he talked about watching Gregory Hines perform as a kid, memories I have as well. Having grown up in the dance world myself, attending school at The Harid Conservatory, dancing with companies like The Joffrey, training under Galina Yordanova, Todd Bolander, and studying choreography under greats like Karol Armitage -- I felt a sort of camaraderie with Jason, even though we have never met. As an adult I slowly phased out of the dance world and into the art world. When I read about Jason Akira Somma I suddenly had this disappointment with myself that I hadn't seen all of my interests and talents as one working module. I actually wrote him about that and his response to me was long and thoughtful, but in short it stated I should just go dance. I think watching his work, and also taking up basic training at Alvin Ailey in my spare time - is what eventually inspired me to make this piece for Jason Lescalleet; a combination of performance art, dance, video art and experimental music. (The piece is forthcoming as a premiere, but you can watch a short clip of footage here)
Another thing that is really, really awesome about Jason is his process... which you can see in a video here. By wiring everything together, tv's, control boards, video cameras etc.. he "controls" the distortion and glitches in real time... allowing him to incorporate real time footage into his work, making it perfect for live performances. This is nothing new, but somehow, he makes it feel more interesting, to me anyway. I look forward to seeing more work from him, and am always thankful for artists like this who inspire me and connect me to my inner passions... (Gushing.)
Famously known as the man that "inspired Andy Warhol to make films" and the "godfather of avant-garde cinema" who filmed John and Yoko's "bed-in" and set up the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Mekas films congure a sense of memory, story telling and seem biographical.
Maverick film-maker Harmony Korine summed up his singular spirit: "Jonas is a true hero of the underground and a radical of the first degree – a shape-shifter and time-fucker… he sees things that others can't… his cinema is a cinema of memory and soul and air and fire. There is no one else like him. His films will live forever."
Mekas has lived an incredibly tortured and beautiful life. As a young person he was imprisoned in a labor camp in Hamburg for eight months, before living in a displaced persons camp for several years, after which he immegrated to Williamsburg, NY. During his first two weeks in America he borrowed money to purchase a 16mm camera and by 1950 he began screening his own films at Gallery East on Avenue A and Houston Street, and a Film Forum series at Carl Fisher Auditorium on 57th Street. Soon after he became the editor of Film Culture and a writer for the film section of Village Voice. Mekas is also a well-known Lithuanian language poet and has published many of his poems and prose in both Lithuanian and English. To read more about his life visit his Wiki page.
Melissa Broder IRL on Video Art, Poetry, Gifs & Soft Grunge
I've been super obsessed with Melissa Broder, particularly on Twitter, for quite a while now. The way she can score a TKO with just a few words every. single. tweet... and the obvious intellect behind her dark humor, made me feel as though she was probably way too cool, smart, busy, important etc.. to want to make a video with me. While Broder is tweeting "coupon for an existential vacuum" or "everyone subtweeting the same sleeping god" I'm over here all "photo booth-ing" photos of myself during renderings mid-edit -- or sometimes @-ing Justin Bieber. Thank god, now that we live in the future, I didn't actually have to approach Broder IRL. I just sent a message via FB. Some people complain that no one actually talks to each other anymore. I would never complain about that. There is nothing I hate more than talking on the phone. Lucky for me, Broder responded and wanted to meet up.
I went to the location of one of her readings that night. I looked like a total schlub because two years ago I finally gave in to comfort and bought Uggs. Now whenever I am tired, PMS-ing or generally cold (which is always! muahahaha) I look like one of those people everyone hates - even myself. Great. Here I am about to meet my twitter crush and I hate myself. Anyway, when Broder walked up she was super nice and inviting, and didn't mention that I looked like hell in a grey hoodie. She actually said she thought I was really pretty, which is just another point towards my 'Sweats Are Smokin' Hot! Lets Get Comfortable!' movement. We first tried to sit in the lobby of a really fancy apartment building. It didn't last long since we were essentially riff-raff in the eyes of billionaires, so we moved to a small restaurant on the corner where they played all the hits (watch the video if you want to hear our evening's playlist). I was considering subtitling this video since the background noise can get distracting, but then... I just didn't. There are some great visuals to keep you on track though. (Did I spot Steve Roggenbuck?)
Anyway -In all seriousness I think Broder is awesome. Her brain inspires me. Here are some links to the work she was talking about in the video...
Stephanie Barber - Dwarfs The Sea
Hieronymous Bosch - website
Molly Soda - gif art
Melissa Broder's Twitter // Melissa Broder's YouTube // Melissa Broder on Publishing Genius
OK, so Lisa Paclet is a rad friend of mine. Her work is insane. She's really inspirational to me, although I don't think I could ever possibly make the kind of stuff she does. She has been commissioned to make video art and films for everyone from V Magazine to YSL, to Kenzo, to Hermes, to Opening Ceremony and on and on and on... Her work has shown in galleries in Paris and on landmark structures in Europe. Once she made a film out of the parties I used to throw for artists at The Chelsea. She also has two cats, a bird (or two?) and has let me stay at her place when I'm in Paris. She's very imaginative and funny and pretty. I could go on and on, but seriously, just watch everything she has on her site.
Kenneth Anger "Fireworks" "Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome"& "Puce Moment"
I can't really remember when I was introduced to Anger's work, but it's been very inspirational to me especially in terms of production techniques. He works almost exclusively in low-budget experimental film, and still does today. He has produced almost forty works since 1937 and is one of the most influential independent filmmakers in cinema history.
Anger's life story is pretty amazing and complex. He's often written about as being involved in the Church of Satan, having lived with the founder of the Church of Satan in the 70's, though from what I've read he denies the claim that he practices and instead identifies with the beliefs of Thelema... described as the "male" counterpart to the more "feminine" lunar beliefs like Wicca. Almost all of his films deal with homoeroticism and the occult. Among his many accomplishments and credits in life, being one of the first openly gay filmmakers was one of them. After the release of Fireworks, which depicted homoerotic gay scenes (posted above), Anger was charged with obscenity. The case went to the Supreme Court of California, at which point he was eventually acquitted; with the court deeming it to be art rather than pornography.
Anger has worked with or been associated with several pop culture figures such as Mick Jagger, Kieth Richards, Marianne Faithful, Jimmy Page, and also did some work with Bobbi Beausoleil (Charels Manson). Filmmakers such as David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and John Waters have cited him as a major influence, and he has been credited as also influencing the music video as an art form.
Though Anger retired in the 90's -- he now is back to making work with Brian Butler, another filmmaker and favorite of mine. (I sometimes show him my work to see what he thinks!) The two of them also perform music, during which Anger plays the Theremin (500+ bonus cool points)
If you want a REALLY interesting read, look at Anger's Wiki page.
I couldn't decide which film to post. I want to post tons of them, it was between Rabbit's Moon, which is so loaded with symbolism and insanely beautiful... and Puce Moment. I really can't say why.. I fliped a figurative coin and am going with Puce Moment.
Edit! I'm also adding Inaguartion of the Pleasure dome with Anaïs Nin -- both are below
Qatsi Trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi
If you want to hear me sound like a real weirdo when trying to speak, take me to a dinner party where people bring up the Qatsi Trilogy by Godfrey Reggio and watch me attempt to pronounce each film.
I first saw Naqoyqatsi when an art house theater near my apartment was showing it in 2002. I wasn't sure what I was about to go see, all I knew was Philip Glass's name was involved, as was Yo-Yo Ma's, and typically for me those two are total no brainers. I can't think of anyone who doesn't like Philip Glass. I mean, everyone watched Sesame Street right? (one of the greatest things ever made)
The film really inspired me at the time. I wasn't making any motion related artwork and Naqoyqatsi seemed so wild and out there. As someone who makes films now, I know Naqoyqatsi was a lot of digitally manipulated stock footage... which is cool, I have nothing against that and have used those techniques in my own work - however, I'm glad that seeing this portion of the trilogy led me to seek out the first two films, which I now prefer.
Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi examine modern life in industrial countries and the conflict between encroaching industrialization and traditional ways of life. While both have similar themes they are quite different. For this post I'm going to select the first of the Qatsi Trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi, if not because its the first of the series, but also because the story behind how it came to be made is pretty bizarre:
"In 1972, Godfrey Reggio, of the Institute for Regional Education (IRE), was working on a media campaign in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The campaign involved invasions of privacy and the use of technology to control behavior. As opposed to making public service announcements, which Reggio felt "had no visibility," advertising spots were purchased for television, radio, newspapers, and billboards. Godfrey described the two year campaign as "extraordinarily successful," and as a result, Ritalin (methylphenidate) was eliminated as a behavior-modifying drug in many New Mexico school districts. But after the campaign ended, the ACLU eventually withdrew its sponsorship. The institute only had $40,000 left in their budget, and Reggio was unsure how to use the small amount of funds." So they were all, LETS MAKE A FILM!!!!! But seriously, " Fricke insisted to Reggio that the money could be used to produce a film, which led to the production of Koyaanisqatsi.""
You can watch the entire film Koyaanisqatsi free on Hulu HERE
It would take a very, very long time to go through and explain, describe each film so I would suggest you go to their wiki links here: Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of balance (1982) // Powaqqatsi: Life in transformation (1988) // Naqoyqatsi: Life as war (2002)
Kalup Linzy "Keys To Our Heart" (Preview)
Kalup Linzy is pretty wild. When I first saw his work one summer from a show at PS1 (Kalup Linzy performs "Asshole" as Taiwan at PS1) I wasn't sure exactly what I was watching. Was this supposed to be funny? Serious? A performance? A video shoot? Basically his work is all of those things. His very low-tech methods of production (he writes, shoots, edits, does VO and stars in all of his films) and casting his friends who are not actors, or making music with people who are not musicians (James Franco), makes everything very unpolished. He also pushes the boundaries of sex, gender and class by generally performing dressed as a woman or assuming female rolls. Soap opera type themes are common in his work, having said in interviews he grew up watching them daily. His work has been shown all over the world and had rave reviews by notable art magazines such as Art In America and Art Forum. He has also been commissioned to create pieces for high fashion lines such as Proenza Schouler and museums such as SFMOMA.
About five years ago, I was big into the downtown NYC party world. I was out every single night partying until the sun came up. This all seems pretty boring and stupid to me now, except that I met some really amazing people in the process. In 2007 I was out with a DJ / Producer and 1/2 of CREEP (whose new music video I'm currently in production on) and she told me there was this person I hadto meet because his work was incredible. I was down, so in the early hours of the morning I went with her to the LES. We walked up the stairs of a 3 floor building completely painted white. There were white taxidermy swans (or something I cant really remember due to my lifestyle back then) in glass cases. We walked through the door of the second floor to an all white empty room and into another all white room, otherwise covered in black graffitti, and there sat a slew of very artsy looking people all in black. Some were punks, some were transgendered, some were people that looked kind of familiar, all of them gorgeous... and at the end of the room sat Matthew Stone. It was his workspace during his stay in NYC, given to him by a gallery or something -- and even just by looking at him I could tell he was amazing. First of all he is beautiful, and carries himself in a way that I just could not stop looking at him. His british accent and excitement over making things drew me in. I was too intimidated to really sit and talk to him, plus he was in conversation with tons of people I didn't really know... but then he took us over to the empty room and turned on a projector, and he played back some of his work across the wall, which he had just filmed that weekend. I was in awe. I saw him again at a few parties, before I retired from partying, but I've continued to see his work on the covers of magazines, in popular music videos, in fashion films, runway shows and galleries all over the world. His blog "Optimism as Cultural Rebellion" is pretty amazing if you want to check out his current work, which ranges from photography to performance art to sculpture to videos. I'm pretty sure, as the years go on, he will be a major figure in the art world... though you could probably say that already. The Sunday Times recently placed him at number one in the arts section of their “Power players under 30” list.
This video, from 2007 "Untitled Glitter" was the first film I saw of Matthew Stones and it completely blew me away.
Dali & Bunuel "Un Chien Andalou"
You can't discuss experimental / avant-garde film without noting Un chien Andalou. It's a classic in this genre. The film was released in 1929 and has no real plot or linear narrative (basically the definition of experimental film). Like Maya Deren, whose work I wrote about earlier, it has a dream-like quality and surreal imagery. Apparently the film came about when "Buñuel told Dalí at a restaurant one day about a dream in which a cloud sliced the moon in half "like a razor blade slicing through an eye". Dalí responded that he'd dreamed about a hand crawling with ants. Excitedly, Buñuel declared: "There's the film, let's go and make it.'"" In the film they are actually slicing though a cows eye, though it is meant to seem as though it is the woman's. For the era, to me anyway, that seems pretty advanced, seeing as though its quite convincing editing. If you want to read more about the film you can here. Basically this is a staple in not only experimental film, but cinema in general. (P.S. The film was originally silent, but was later shown with a score. If you want to watch the film as it was originally shown, just watch it on mute)
Brothers Quay "Street of Crocodiles"
These guys just totally blow my mind. I recently saw their show at MOMA. It was around the time I started making miniatures for Light Boxes [The Movie], and I felt a surge of inspiration as I marveled at the miniature sets they had created. There is a dark sense of fantasy in their films, with touches of esoteric influences. Their work is not limited to stop motion though... so while I was amazed to see an up close look at the doll parts used to construct figures and so on, I also was taken with their stage sets, beautiful book cover designs, illustrations and hand done typography. Though they are first and foremost fine artists, as they grew in popularity they made several commercials and also worked on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer", though they did not direct it, and apparently were not pleased with the final video. Another thing to note is that these guys are the coolest looking identical twins I've ever seen.
It's so hard to pick one video, but above is their best known work, Street of Crocodiles, based on the short novel of the same name by the Polish author and artist Bruno Schulz. I also reccommend The Calligrapher.
LOL Jerome "Blockz"
In a complete departure from the previous posts, today I'm going to post about web 1.0 art, frequently attributed to artists like LOL Jerome. I'm personally not too into this kind of stuff but it holds an important place in popular video art this year, which also includes 'gif art'... you know, animated gifs, something that has been around for a very long time, but is only recently being considered valid artwork by the art world. When Rihanna did her green screened performance on SNL everyone was up in arms, both positively and negatively, including myself. It was the first time in SNL's history (to my knowlege) that a musical guest had not used the SNL set as the backdrop to their performance. Using a green screen seemed inventive and the artwork going on in the background seemed pretty cool, though perhaps a bit gimmicky. Even I questioned who made the video art behind her. I'm still not sure who it was (you can @ me on Twitter if you know!). As I googled, looking for an answer all I found were articles and posts about LOL Jerome, a music producer and video artist, being ripped off. This didn't surprise me too much considering David Lachapelle had sued Rihana a year earlier for ripping his work off in one of her videos.
A lot of people claim to be the pioneers of this aesthetic, I recently read an article on Interview Magazine's site by a couple claiming Rihanna ripped them off - however those people have never actually produced anything that was widely known. We've all made gif art at some point in our lives I'm sure. Campy, "ironic", purposefully "bad" "junk" as a joke or a joke that is meant to be taken seriously I suppose. And now, according to a lot of art world articles and magazines it is, arguing that many pieces have deeper meanings about technology and art. I guess this is the direction video art is headed for a lot of people... at least for now, though according to some Rihanna's SNL performance was the death of it.
Maya Deren "Meshes Of The Afternoon"
I had heard the name "Maya Deren" in passing for some time - maybe in art school or in an article about film, however it wasn't until everyone started comparing me to her that I actually looked up her work. My short film "Very Beautiful Woman", commissioned for an online "group show" via Pangur Ban Party, eventually screened offline in NYC and the UK. It received a lot of comparisons (Jimmy Chen made several in this post), though across the web they were primarily to Lynch and Maya Deren. I know Lynch's early work quite well... but I felt pretty dumb, as a filmmaker, for having never seen Deren's.
When I finally watched "Meshes of the Afternoon" I felt as if I had unknowingly been some kind of spawn of Deren's. I felt eerily shocked seeing some scenes in this film that were almost exact replica's of shots in my film. I saw so many resemblances in how we portrayed meaning, in the non-traditional way in which we had cut, shot and produced our personal work, how we portrayed ourselves as women. The similarities didn't stop there, we both have a background in dance, choreography and performance and she frequently appeared in her films. Saying that I agree with the comparisons people were posting on FB makes me feel sort of egotistical since Deren is considered to be one of the most important figures in avant-garde / experimental film ever. Personally I sort of hate feeling that my work is so similar to someone else's work. In fact, I really loath people who try to copy era's, shots etc.. from work that was groundbreaking.. its like.. go think up some of your own ideas! However, I feel I get a free pass from persecuting myself over the blatant similarities between my video and Deren's since I hadn't actually seen any of her work prior to my video, which drew so much comparison to hers.
As an artist Deren is frequently written up along side other artists and writers like Kenneth Anger (who I will post about later), Anias Nin (who she was known to frequently chill with) and Marcel Duchamp who she collaborated with on a film that was never completed. She died in 1961 from a combo of sleeping pills and amphetamines. Her life was pretty amazing and filled with a lot of influential people who would later be considered groundbreaking artists. She also was a published poet, writer and had an album out on Elektra Records! You can read more about her life here.
Artistic freedom means that the amateur filmmaker is never forced to sacrifice visual drama and beauty to a stream of words...to the relentless activity and explanations of a plot...nor is the amateur production expected to return profit on a huge investment by holding the attention of a massive and motley audience for 90 minutes...Instead of trying to invent a plot that moves, use the movement of wind, or water, children, people, elevators, balls, etc. as a poem might celebrate these. And use your freedom to experiment with visual ideas; your mistakes will not get you fired
Matthew Barney "The Cremaster Cycle"
The first time I saw The Cremaster Cycle I was in art school. It was so inspiring to me aesthetically, but in terms of meaning I just kept thinking "wtf." "Wtf" is the factor I feel every video piece must have in order to deem it brilliant and this succeeded on so many levels. It's like the first time I saw Eraserhead by David Lynch (one of the best films of all time), that was during art school too. Similar to Cremaster I found it so mind-blowingly beautiful and completely impossible to understand. The difference though is that Lynch has refused to speak to exactly "wtf" Eraserhead was about, making it seem as though it was created largely via instinct and resourcefullness -- at times downgrading it, in order to avoid the discussion, coming off (IMO unconvincingly) as though it's more or less about nothing. Barney on the other hand went to Yale and did thesis work about conceptual art etc etc... and openly discusses the well thought out details which bring meaning to his work. The Cremaster Cycle, as a conceptual piece, is based around the cremaster muscle which "controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli". [To read more go here.] The Cremaster Cycle is made up of 5 parts and is exceptionally long, so I can't post a full video for each, but here is a section from Part 1.
By the way, if you watched the intro video from Jan 1, we talked about how Bjork and Barney are [NOT] married (they are partners and have a child together) -- and also asked if the two had worked together often. To my knowledge they haven't, other than one of Barney's films, Drawing Restraint 9, which Bjork scored.
Since authors Kendra Grant Malone and Matthew Savoca were over at my house last night, I decided to include them in welcoming you to the month of January at Everyday Genius. As a video artist and film maker, I've always been excited to see new work from emerging artists and discover legendary pieces that changed the art world. As mentioned in the video above you can "@" me with video suggestions, questions or replies here: https://twitter.com/ellenfrances.
If you aren't familiar with my work you can watch some samples of it here. To see the sketch of "Light Boxes" (originally published by Publishing Genius) in development, you can watch it here.
Kendra Grant Malone is a poet and author who co-wrote Morocco with Matthew Savoca. Matthew's new novel "I Don't Know," I Said will be released soon via Publishing Genius.
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