views on Views from the Avant-Garde Part 3

From: Scott Stark (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Oct 22 2006 - 09:02:36 PDT

While agree with some of Bill Wees' assessments of this year's Views
programs, I feel there were many works by lesser-known/less canonical
artists that shone as or more brightly. For what it's worth, here are a few
notes of my own about works that glowed, for me.

Michael Robinson: The General Returns from One Place to Another. A dark and
unsettling look at the esthetics and ethics of war and genocide, of distant
bombs, and of danger just beyond the limits of vision.

Soon-Mi Yoo: Dangerous Supplement. Another look at the outer reaches of
war, its aftermath, and the complacent face that's assigned to a subjugated
culture. Elusive, thoughtful and engaging.

Saul Levine: these blowups still retained their 8mm feel; it was great to
see them so bright, large and very much alive. Something's lost (the small,
intimate gauge), yet something's gained. Saul himself was articulate and
politically astute. I couldn't have made an Anthology show so I was glad to
see the work here.

Olivo Barbieri: site specific_ROMA 04 and site specific_LAS VEGAS 05. These
are visually stunning works, 35mm aerial photography with a curious
blurring effect that makes everything seem small and toy-like. The circling
and chopper sounds make it feel like we're closing in for the kill. I read
that these were made to accompany large-scale photos (scale is everything
in the gallery world), but I appreciated their scale and clarity.

Gretchen Skogerson: Drive-Thru. Speaking of large scale, this wide screen
HD video was also visually stunning, but was made up instead of long,
static shots of somber, bleakly lit nighttime urbanscapes. The fluorescent
lights glow with an unearthly beauty, and the whites are as deep in their
emptiness as the blacks.

Gulya Nemes: Threshold of Transience aka The Dike of Transience. A real
highlight for me, with a crazy, stumbling, raw beauty. Black and white 35mm
shots of lakes, streams, ramshackle buildings, kids and animals, all
accompanied by a brass band haltingly practicing on the soundtrack, whose
sudden blasts of horns occasionally (accidentally?) sink up with movements
on the screen. This one caught me off guard and followed me home.

Jim Jennings: Silk Ties. A nice, eutrophicated look at the downtown
business crowd and the downtown itself from the always urbanesque Jennings.

Robert Fenz: Crossings. Quite a departure from Fenz's documentaryish
oeuvre; a frenetic and abstracted this-way-that-way look at the line that
divides the haves from the have-nots. Very nice.

Guy Sherwin: Views from Home. This piece had lots of pixilated shadow
movements from raw old 8mm footage (digitized); very personal, and it had a
nice ragtag soundtrack that tied it all together and transformed it. I
enjoyed it.

Ernie Gehr: A strong program of older films, including a beautiful 35mm
blowup of Serene Velocity, which showed new detail and clarity in that
now-familiar hallway, and Table, a flickering, color-filtered parallax of
views of a mundane table setting; and two new digital works, The Morse Code
Operator (Or The Monkey Wrench), a playful back-and-forthing of an early
found silent film that collapses time, space and narrative, and Before the
Olympics, which playfully morphs bodies and backgrounds in fixed urban
locales. Gehr's deeply-thought and carefully rendered ideas have remained
consistent across the decades of his career.

Nathaniel Dorsky: Song and Solitude. A beautiful film, and even better than
some of Dorsky's own previous works. His use of dark shapes, minimalist
framing, hands, water, shadows and negative space is rich and compelling,
with a pacing that is somber and open-ended.

Ken Jacobs: Pushcarts of eternity street. This too was a stunning piece.
Jacobs continues to find spectacular moments in everyday (100-year-old)
scenes, allowing the eye and mind to inhabit and explore a familiar and
newly-mysterious long-gone space.

Helga Fanderl: Reel 4.... Beautiful blowups from 8mm, each short film
apparently made with a single camera roll. Playful, colorful, inventive
photography, and all edited in-camera. A favorite sequence had her pointing
her camera upwards, tracing the paths of airplanes through the overhanging
leaves of a small forest.

Fred Worden: Everyday Bad Dream. This one threw everybody off; a crazy,
plodding spin through digital gamespace, and this from no less than a film
purist. A crowd pleaser with a goofy -- or was it daffy? -- punchline that
had everyone shaking their heads in wonder.

Luther Price: Turbulant Blue. Price's 16mm choice center cut of a 35mm
narrative print shows off his deftly subversive editing and some amazing
visual phenomena.

Ben Russell: Black and White Trypps #2. Beautiful, sharp-edged black &
white 16mm film with a kind of "mirroring" you can only do with a film
camera and prismatic lens, no FCP button-pushing here. Abstracted images of
trees and other natural forms intertwined with themselves.

Kerry Laitala: Orbit. Stunningly colorful night images of neon and other
carnival de-lights, lovingly extracted from good old Kodachrome original.
The editing is assured and idiosyncratic, moving between flickering
abstraction to glittering corners of large-than-the-frame signage to
whirling blurring balls of bursting color. An equally abstracted and
playful optical track ("hand-painted on the film" she noted in the
introduction) dances along with the lush imagery.

Jennifer Reeves: Light Work 1. Another HD presentation, featuring what
looked like film imagery intercut with crystal-sharp video. Beautiful and
abstract, pushing itself gently toward the intangible.

Paul Sharits: Apparent Motion. This is an interesting piece on its own, if
you're prepared to sit quietly and engage with the minor visual phenomena
that's happening in there, but unlike the rest of the pieces on the last
program it's not particularly appealing visually, and it was a long piece
(22 mins.) toward the end of a long program.

Bruce McClure: They Wakened Later, Simultaneously, Much Refreshed. A great,
rousing, pounding way to end the last program and the weekend. McClure's
performance focused and unfocused several projectors pointing at the same
frame, causing granular variations of aggressive flickering. Pulsing
optical soundtracks made their way through some sort of synthesizer and
shook through the air. The visual morphings were actually quite subtle over
its 30 min. duration, and some might have thought it too long considering,
but you couldn't ignore its raw and minimal power.

[Caveat, I too had a piece in the festival. While it would be inappropriate
to comment on my own piece, I will say I was pleased with its presentation.
Thanks also to Wago Kreider for suggesting I market it on the gay aerobics
video circuit.]

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.