From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Mar 04 2009 - 11:14:07 PST
Due to recent flooding at the originally scheduled venue, my White Light
Cinema screening with David Gatten has changed venues and will start 30
minutes later than originally listed.
Information below is current.
WHITE LIGHT CINEMA PRESENTS
TRACINGS AND MARKINGS: A SALON SCREENING WITH DAVID GATTEN
FILMMAKER DAVID GATTEN IN PERSON!
SUNDAY, MARCH 8 - 7:30PM
AT CHICAGO FILMMAKERS (5243 N. CLARK ST.)
White Light Cinema is extremely pleased to welcome filmmaker David
Gatten for a special salon-style screening.
Experimental filmmaker David Gatten has been making work that is both
rigorous and intensely beautiful for more than a decade. His films,
which feel like the products of old-world craftsmen or Renaissance
artisans, combine his diverse and eclectic interests (arcane aspects
of history, literature, printing, science, and more) with formal
elements that are delicate, mesmerizing, labor-intensive, and, almost,
obsessive. He creates a sensuous fusion of image and text that speaks
to both the soul and the mind.
He is best known for his on-going Byrd family series (including The
Secret History of the Dividing Line and The Great Art of Knowing),
which chronicles members of the 18th century Virginia family and
William Byrd's legendary library. In these films and others, Gatten
foregrounds writing, text, words, and printing-both in his abiding
interest in books and literature and in a broader interest in the
construction of meaning and ideas. His work investigates writing as
concrete referents and also as symbols, markings, and etchings.
Tonight's program focuses on this later strain in Gatten's work-the
more abstract explorations of inscription, both real and imagined, and
what even those non-decipherable marks and codes, tracings and
remnants, have to say to us.
Featured are four completed works and a work-in-progress: What the
Water Said, Nos. 1-3 (1997-98); Fragrant Portals, Bright Particulars
and the Edge of Space (2003); What the Water Said, Nos. 4-6 (2007);
Film for Invisible Ink Case No. 142: Abbreviation for Dead Winter
[Diminished by 1,794] (2008); and a work-in-progress (tentatively
titled The Much-Mottled Motion of Blank Time (2009)).
In addition to the films, Gatten will be playing selections of poet
Wallace Stevens reciting his own work and will be reading from Charles
Darwin's Origin of the Species to complement some of the thematic
aspects of the films.
What the Water Said, Nos. 1-3
(1997-98, 16 mins., 16mm, sound, color and black & white)
"These films are the result of a series of camera-less collaborations
between the filmmaker, the Atlantic Ocean and its underwater
inhabitants. For three days in January and three days in October of
1997, and again, for a day, in August of 1998, lengths of unexposed,
undeveloped film were soaked in a crab trap on a South Carolina beach.
Both the sound and image in WHAT THE WATER SAID are the result of
the ensuing oceanic inscriptions written directly into the emulsion of
the film as it was buffeted by the salt water, sand and rocks; as it
was chewed and eaten by the crabs, fish and underwater creatures." (DG)
"Bypassing half of the usual mechanical needs of filmmaking, Gatten
instead uses nature as his recording device. The film is, indeed,
about process, but also about nature as both subject and author . . .
the process yields a stunning range of results: at times quiet and
lyrical, at others the scratching is so dense that it leaves a nearly
white screen and a loud roar, evoking the waves crashing on shore with
their characteristic sound and the white of the foam. The fascinating
second section of the film has an orange cast to it, tinged with a
rust or burnt sienna color which is strikingly different from the
black and white of the other sections. With this color as background,
the scratching has a unique field in which to operate . . . here the
markings are highly varied: straight, curved, and layered in complex
patterns. The overall feel is amazingly organic and seems to defy the
random action of the ocean's weathering - it seems structured,
following a predetermined pattern: one almost senses an underwater
intelligence in its formation." (Patrick Friel)
What the Water Said, Nos. 4-6
(2007, 17 mins., 16mm, color, sound)
³Strips of previously unexposed film went into the ocean and these
fragments are what returned.
In this final installment of a nine year project documenting the
underwater world off the coast of South Carolina, both the sounds and
images are the result of the oceanic inscriptions written directly
into the emulsion of the film as it was buffeted by the salt water,
sand and rocks; as it was chewed by the crabs, fish and underwater
creatures. The initial parts of the project, complied as WHAT THE
WATER SAID, NOS. 1-3 were completed in 1998. After an absence of many
years I returned to the island in late December of 2005. To mark this
return - and the beginning of a new phase of my life - the project was
resumed. The material in No. 4 was submerged in January of 2006 and
the film strips in No. 5 were flung into the ocean in August. On
December 29th, 30th and 31st, a final series of offerings were made."
Fragrant Portals, Bright Particulars and the Edge of Space
(2003, 12 mins., 16mm, black & white, silent) ?
³A companion of sorts to WHAT THE WATER SAID. An attempt to assess the
potentials, possibilities and pitfalls of finding meaning in - or
assigning human meaning to - the natural world; by way of Wallace
Stevens. 'The Idea of Order at Key West' and 'Of Mere Being'
translated into Ogham (the 5th-century 'tree alphabet' derived from a
notational system used by shepherds to record notes on their wooden
staffs), and carved a letter at a time into a piece of
semi-transparent flexible wood (black leader)." (DG)
Film for Invisible Ink, Case No. 142: Abbreviation for Dead Winter
[Diminished by 1,794]
(2008, 13 mins., 16mm, black & white, sound)
"A single piece of paper, a second stab at suture, a story three times
over, a frame for every mile. With words by Charles Darwin.
A long-distance dedication for a far-away friend half-way up the
David Gatten Biography:
David Gatten - filmmaker, Henry James fan, recent Guggenheim fellow
and aspiring audio book producer - makes bookish films about letters
and libraries and lovers and ghosts that are filled with words, some
of which you can read.
He lives and works by the water in Red Hook, Brooklyn and on Seabrook
Island, South Carolina and teaches 16mm filmmaking/Wallace Stevens
appreciation at The Cooper Union in New York City.
Gatten's work has been exhibited at museums, galleries and
cinémathèques including "The American Century" at the Whitney Museum,
Pacific Film Archive, First Person Cinema, San Francisco Cinémathèque,
Art Gallery of Ontario, Cinémathèque Française, BFI, P.S. 1, Anthology
Film Archives, Cinema Project, Swiss Institute, Helsinki Film Co-Op,
Museum of Contemporary Cinema in Lisbon, Image Forum in Japan, Art
Institute of Chicago, Proteus Gowanus, Issue Project Room, NBK
Gallery, Exit Art, Permanent Gallery, Ballroom Marfa, DC Arts Center,
St. Mark's Poetry Project, Millennium Film Workshop, Chicago
Filmmakers, Double Negative and the Yokohama Museum of Art.
The films have been screened at many festivals as well, including
Rotterdam, New York, London, Ann Arbor, Toronto, Seattle, Portland,
Onion City, Ottawa, Athens, Lisbon, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Impakt,
Media City, TIE, Cinematexas, THAW, Chicago Underground, Kill Your
Timid Notion, PDX, Images, FLEX, and Black Maria.
Gatten was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971. Shortly thereafter his
family moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, where he lived for 20
years, slowly learning the meaning of the word "y'all" though never
himself attempting to deploy it. Gatten received a BA from the
University of North Carolina Greensboro in 1995 and an MFA from the
School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998. He is a former
Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema & Photography at
Ithaca College. Gatten currently continues his teaching in the School
of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art in the
East Village of New York City.
David Gatten's visit to Chicago is made possible by the Department of
Film, Video, and New Media at the School of the Art Institute of
Chicago and by the University of Chicago Arts Council.
Gatten will be presenting two different programs at the Conversations
at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center (March 5):
www.convesationsattheedge.wordpress.com and at the Film Studies Center
at the University of Chicago (March 6):
This program screens Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 7:30pm at Chicago Filmmakers
(5243 N. Clark St.).
Admission: $7.00-10.00 sliding scale
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.