[Frameworks] Chicago 11/13 - The Nightingale and White Light Cinema Present: The Voyagers - A Double Feature: Work by Penny Lane and Brian Frye

From: Patrick Friel (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Nov 09 2010 - 20:09:01 PST

The Nightingale and White Light Cinema Present
The Voyagers ­ A Double Feature
Work by Penny Lane and Brian Frye
Saturday, November 13, 2010
7:00pm (Lane) / 9:00pm (Frye)
At The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
The Nightingale Presents:
The Voyagers: Part One
Video Inquiry: Work by Penny Lane
With Penny Lane in Person!

Saturday, November 13, 7:00pm

The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee)

Penny Lane creates video pieces that exhibit a vibrant contemporary
imagination at work. Often playing with the expectations of genre, her works
are lively explorations of the world as she experiences it. Playful and
emotive, her work moves deftly between the worlds of documentary, narrative,
and experimental cinema. Her videos have screened at AFI FEST, Int'l Film
Festival Rotterdam, San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, Images Festival,
Florida Experimental (FLEX), Seattle Int'l Film Festival, Women in the
Director's Chair, and MOMA "Documentary Fortnight." Penny has been awarded
production grants from the New York State Council for the Arts, LEF
Foundation, NYSCA, Experimental Television Center, IFP, Dutchess County Arts
Council, and the Puffin Foundation. Currently she is a visiting professor in
art at Williams College and in pre-production on a feature documentary about
goat testicles and Mexican radio. And yes, Penny Lane is her real name.
Program Details:

Sometimes I Get Lossy (2008, 1 min.)
This is what happens when you spend all your time in front of a computer.
How To Make An Autobiography (2010, 4 mins.)
The first thing you do when writing an autobiography is start off with a lot
of facts about your life. Try to find interesting facts.
Men Seeking Women (2007, 4 mins.)
A random sample of Craigslist personals opens up performative possibilities
for an animated corporate tool.
Famous Lunch 03.28.05 9 PM (2009, 2 mins.)
Part of an unfinished series of videos involving imaginative surveillance.
It turns out that I am really weirded out by spying on people, so maybe the
series is doomed. A collaboration with Thom Stylinski (oh yes, those are his
We Are The Littletons (2004, 10 mins.)
We Are The Littletons presents a tangled web of found objects, intercepted
correspondences, reenactments and total fabrications centered around Eve
Littleton, an artist with "movie star good looks" who was mysteriously
banished from her postcard-perfect American family. A true story with forged
signatures, We Are The Littletons is about what's outside the margins of the
American Dream, the people and memories that get removed from the family
photos and erased from the records. It is also about their persistent
struggle to come home, welcome or not.
She used to see him most weekends (2007, 4 mins.)
A short story about growing up, a certain love song, and the apocryphal
memories of childhood. Also: a sort of epilogue to The Abortion Diaries.
The Commoners (2009, 12 mins.) by Jessica Bardsley & Penny Lane
In 1890, one man had the idea to collect every bird ever mentioned in
Shakespeare and release them into Central Park. The only bird to survive in
the New World was the European Starling, now one of the most common birds in
America. Its introduction is widely considered a major environmental
disaster. The Commoners is a moving image essay about starlings, poetry, and
the purist rhetoric used to describe "invasive species." It is also about
the paths people forge through history, intentionally or not, as they
attempt to change the natural world.
The Voyagers (2010, 16 mins.)
This is the piece I made for Brian and for our wedding. Some people have
asked to see it again.
In the summer of 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on an epic journey
into interstellar space. Together and alone, they will travel until the end
of the universe. Each spacecraft carries a golden record album, a massive
compilation of images and sounds embodying the best of Planet Earth.
According to Carl Sagan, ³[t]he spacecraft will be encountered and the
record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in
interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean
says something very hopeful about life on this planet.² While working on the
golden record, Sagan met and fell madly in love with his future wife Annie
Druyan. The record became their love letter to humankind and to each other.
In the summer of 2010, I began my own hopeful voyage into the unknown. This
film is a love letter to my fellow traveler.
White Light Cinema Presents
The Voyagers: Part Two
The Anatomy of Cinema: Films by Brian Frye
With Brian Frye in Person!
Saturday, November 13 ­ 9:00pm
At the Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
For roughly a decade (from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s) Brian Frye was
one of the best and most original experimental filmmakers around. Before
heading to law school, Frye crafted a body of work that demonstrated a keen
awareness of form, a sensitivity to his materials, and a careful
understanding of history ­ both film history and history in the broadest
sense. His films ACROSS THE RAPPAHANNOCK (a portrait/landscape work of Civil
War re-enactors) and MEETING WITH KHRUSCHEV (which excavates a short
fragment of a famous meeting) explore two very different eras of American
history in vastly different ways.
Frye is also frequently drawn to the idea of performance, again treated in a
multiplicity of way. Two early films, 6.95: STRIPTEASE and 9.95: THE MOST
IMPORTANT MOMENT IN MY LIFE (INFINITE SET), have Frye both as maker and as
his own ³performer² of sorts. He also foregrounds elements of performance in
his found footage work: amateur actors in THE ANATOMY OF MELONCHOLY; the man
called to serve God in footage from an unfinished documentary in THE LETTER;
even Nikita Khruschev and Jack Kennedy in MEETING WITH KRUSCHEV and the
³soldiers² of ACROSS THE RAPPAHANNOCK are positioned within a performative
framework. In almost all of his films, Frye is interested in that
intersection between truth and illusion, between fact and fiction ­ in that
middle ground where one is not certain which is which.
As rich as Frye¹s films are in their thematic, historical, and social
delvings, they are even more remarkable for their formal concerns. The early
films (6.95 and 9.95) are minimalist exercises situated somewhere between
Fluxus and Andy Warhol. MEETING WITH KHRUSCHEV is as finely attuned to the
possibilities of found footage as is the work of Bruce Conner. ACROSS THE
RAPPAHANNOCK showcases Frye¹s excellent eye for composition, color, and
texture. And, perhaps above all, KADDISH, THE LETTER, and THE ANATOMY OF
MELANCHOLY demonstrate Frye¹s understanding that often what is most
important is to just let material speak for itself. Judicious editing (and
knowing when not to cut) allows the resonant footage of these films to
shine, and Frye¹s subtle manipulations create disquieting tensions to
Given the breadth and curiosity of his work, it is not surprising that Frye
came to filmmaking after receiving an undergraduate degree in philosophy.
Nor is it surprising that he, at least temporarily, gave up filmmaking to
pursue a law degree. Recently, he¹s returned to film and video making,
between his lawyerly duties. He¹s currently at work on a feature-length
project with his wife, video artist Penny Lane.
6.95: STRIPTEASE (1995, 3 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent)
³6.95: Striptease might have been titled "Brian Frye Fails to Strip."
We see Frye disrobe, but when he gets to his white undershorts, the roll
ends in white flare-outs. There's also something strange about his
movements, especially when he drops his shirt - because in fact he ran the
camera in reverse while putting his clothes on. As a result, the work is
much more than a joke about not doing what so many other student performers
are quite happy to do. The unnatural-looking movements and the expectation
set up by the title in effect comment on conventional narrative cinema, in
which the film's end is supposed to resolve the plot's overarching "issue":
Will they have sex? Will they get away with the crime? Here, once one
realizes that Frye's movements are off, every instant seems peculiarly
nonlinear, anticipating the final reference to the material realities of
film. Further, 6.95: Striptease often has a splotchy yellow tint that's the
result of home processing. Frye minimized the tint in some of his other
films but intentionally did not do so here. The image's occasional yellowish
field combines with the reverse motion to denaturalize Frye's figure: he
seems trapped on the surface, in the emulsion. [Š] The splotches and
scratches and dust contribute to the sense of film as an object rather than
a transparent window onto some reproducible "reality." Frye's point in 6.95:
Striptease, as in all his work, is that we cannot directly know the world by
seeing it.³ (Fred Camper)
16mm, b&w, silent)

MEETING WITH KHRUSCHEV (1997, 35 mins., 16mm, b&w, silent)
³About a half hour in length, ŒMeeting with Krushchev¹ is a refilming of a
sequence perhaps 15 seconds long showing a meeting between the Soviet
premier and president Kennedy. Frye slowed it down in reprinting, resulting
in a sequence just over a minute in length, then he rephotographed it more
than 20 times with varying degrees of magnification. For the final film he
intercut all 21 strips, editing in a way that seems neither random nor
precisely calculated. We might see shots of grain patterns, sometimes
colored by handprocessing, shots of the action that are a little clearer,
and occasional views of the Œmaster shot.¹² (Amy Beste)
THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY (1999, 11 mins., 16mm, b&w, sound)
³In 1999, I bought the outtakes from a short film called ŒA Portrait in
Fear¹ from the cinematographer. The movie was directed by a chiropractor
from Kansas City, Missouri, and shot on an Auricon. The poetry came
naturally.² (BF)
THE LETTER (2001, 11 mins, 16mm, b&w, sound)
³An essay toward documenting the ineffable. I¹m told that all philosophy
springs from one question: why is there something, rather than nothing?
Perhaps these are fragments of one man¹s answer to that question. He spoke
to someone once; I encountered his ghost and replied with this film. One
might consider it a dialogue between a man of Faith and one who has merely
tasted of the absurd, yet struggles to ingest it.² (BF)
"[Frye] aims to blur the line between completed film and unfinished
experiment - many of his best pieces look like fragments or rushes.
His work is relentlessly self-questioning, offering a subtle, ever shifting
mix of open-endedness and structure. The Letter is composed of Œvisually
interesting¹ shots, he says, from the outtakes he found for an unidentified
documentary. And his film looks like outtakes, with pans around a cemetery
and an unexplained bald man. Later a shot of worms moving against a mesh
screen introduces a different kind of imagery and motion - and as in most of
Frye's best work, there's something creepy about the image and how little it
explains. Watching Frye's films, the viewer often feels trapped in a box
with only a few peepholes, each of which distorts the world in a different
way." (Fred Camper, "Cinema of Possibilities," Chicago Reader, June 28,
KADDISH (2002, 11 mins., 16mm, color and b&w, sound)
³Here is my covenant with you, says the Lord: My spirit that is upon you,
and the words I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth or
the mouths of your children or the mouths of your children¹s children ­ the
Lord says ­ from now through all eternity.² (Isaiah 59:21)
³A fragment of tinted nitrate. An acetate recording of a wedding
ceremony. Echoes of the bitter sweetness of the Spirit on the tongue of Man.
As Frampton tipped his hat to Gloria, so might I.² (BF)
ACROSS THE RAPPAHANNOCK (2002, 11 mins., 16mm, color, silent)
³On December 12, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside¹s Army of the Potomac
engaged General Robert E. Lee¹s Army of Northern Virginia in the town of
Fredericksburg, Virginia. Before Burnside¹s army could enter the town, Union
engineers were forced to lay pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River
under withering fire. Close combat through the streets of Fredericksburg and
multiple assaults on the Confederate army entrenched in the heights behind
the town resulted in heavy Federal casualties, which forced an eventual
In November 2001, I attended a small and relatively informal reenactment of
the battle of Fredericksburg. About a hundred men and women did their best
to illustrate the actions of the thousands of young men who offered their
lives a century earlier. An air of absurd theater suffused the entire event,
which provided the ground for its peculiar truth. Everyone played their part
exceedingly honestly and well, and left something on the film I was myself
surprised to find there.² (BF)
³American Civil War recreationists restage Burnside¹s failed campaign at
Fredericksburg. Frye¹s silent, slow-motion photography provides a
melancholic distance that magnifies the odd romance of a bloodless enactment
of a bloody war.² (Images Festival)
These screenings take place Saturday, November 13 at 7:00pm and 9:00pm at
the Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
Admission: Suggested dontation - $5.00-10.00 for one program; $10 for both.

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