(no subject)

From: Klaus W. Eisenlohr (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Sep 27 2009 - 16:29:25 PDT

Directors Lounge proudly presents:
Daniel Cockburn
- zerofunctional video work -

Z-Bar Bergstraße 2
10115 Berlin-Mitte

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Daniel Cockburn

Daniel Cockburn often appears in his own films.
He is not playing himself, but he enacts the main
character of his script. "I am interested in this
blank face without emotions. It becomes a
projection surface for anything that happens in
the film, like the Kuleshov Effect". The early
Russian filmmaker proved that the same head-shot
can express fear, anger or sadness depending on
the adjunct edits in the film and he thus had a
strong influence on Eisenstein's theory of
montage. Later, the emotionless poker face of
Buster Keaton was celebrated as the beginning
point of modern film acting. - "And I decided I
could do that myself; I didn't need an actor to
make the kinds of films I wanted to make," says
Cockburn, and he consequently started to explore
his own ways of filmmaking.

Directors Lounge presents Canadian artist Daniel
Cockburn, a current fellow at DAAD Berliner
Künstlerprogramm. His films seem to exist
in-between genres. Some of the emotional settings
in his films possibly recall psychological
mind-sets of science fiction novels of authors
like Stanislaw Lem or William Gibson, without
having any of the stage designs of Sci-fi films.
They do not play in "future times"; however, they
envision for example loops of recurring scenes as
a maze without exit, or the editing of a film as
something the protagonist of the film becomes
aware of.

Cockburn graduated from the film program at York
University in Toronto, but dissatisfied with his
own final project, a 17min film that took him 6
months to finish, he decided to "abandon all that
stuff", meaning the conundrum of big film
productions like stage design, light design,
sound engineer and production manager, in order
to make much simpler films based on his own
writing. Since then he has realized some 20 short
films. Asked if taking on the roles of his main
character would be more like Cindy Sherman,
transforming herself, or like Woody Allen,
basically playing a character out of his own
experiences, he replies: "definitively more on
the side of Woody Allen". He admits that over the
years, his main characters became more and more
influenced by autobiographical ideas.

Unlike other experimental films that are set in
personal surroundings and where a voiceover often
results late in the process of filming and
editing, Daniel's films are always based on
writing and often on a monologue of his
protagonist. It is a strategy of rather strict
economical "purety" in the sense of which means
and efforts are taken to make a film from the
writing, or from the script.

Another strategy of the filmmaker is
appropriation. That is most visible in films made
of "found footage"; but also in his camera films,
he "steals" ideas from other texts, films or
music. In his latest project, "You Are Here", a
feature film that is starring actors and uses
stage design again, finding and archiving
material plays a big role in the narration. The
activity of collecting seems to be a trap and
source of obsession, but in other respects, it
may also be a base for resistance, an escape from
those powers that seem to have control over the
claustrophobic situations his protagonists find
themselves in, not only in the feature film but
also in his shorts. One might thus reason, that
disrespectful appropriation may be the right
strategy to trick those 'higher powers' appearing
in the film - possibly the same of whom the
painter Sigmar Polke reports, "Höhere Wesen
befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen!"
(Higher beings instructed: paint right top edge

Another border crossing may be Daniel's
involvement with performance art. Here, he is
even more interested in the self-referentiality
of language. Indexicality may be a trap for
itself, and in his performances, rhythm, overlay
of syllables and the internal logic of language
are predominant over meaning; the rather
claustrophobical suspense of the films is broken
in favour of a presence of voice and body.

The film "Brother Tongue / Langue Fraternelle",
however, explores the idea of self-referential,
non-signifying language to other ends:
eventually, the speaker is left alone, wordless,
and the subtitled translation (to French) is left
lingering on the screen until the whole image
disintegrates into a non-indexical fluctuation of
electronic artefacts.

On Sept. 30, Daniel Cockburn will present at
Z-Bar the short films in which he took more
liberty and a thus more experimental stance than
in some of his other films. And we will see one
episode of his upcoming feature "You Are Here" as
a preview. This screening is in close temporal
proximity to a performance/talk at "General
Public" on Sept. 28, and there will also be a
further screening of a different program of short
films at Arsenal in November. At Z-Bar, the
filmmaker will be present at the screening for
introduction and Q&A after the show. (Klaus W.

More infos and details at:

Artist's Links:

Press Links:
Z-Bar - http://www.z-bar.de/

Klaus W. Eisenlohr, Osnabrücker Str. 25, D-10589 Berlin, Germany
email:			email suppressed
and film production:		http://www.richfilm.de
phone:			int.- 49 - 30 - 3409 5343 (BERLIN)
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.