Gregg Biermann was born in 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated with Honors in Cinema from Binghamton University in 1991, and subsequently received an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute.
He has been making films, videos, and multi-media pieces since 1988. These works have been exhibited internationally including exhibitions at Anthology Film Archives, Millennium, the San Francisco Cinematheque, the Pacific Film Archive, the Documentary Film Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago Filmmakers, the Massachusetts College of Art Film Society, the Ontario Cinematheque, and the Deutsches Filmmuseum. His works and activities have received critical attention in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Chicago Reader, and The Chicago Sun-Times. He has been collaborating with electronic music composer/performer Ron Mazurek for the past several years on a series of real-time music/video performances.
He was a member of the Chicago x-film group, which mounted many programs of avant garde films in and out of Chicago. More recently, he has done programming for the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema in New York. He has also written on Avant-garde film including an article for the Millennium Film Journal on Nathaniel Dorsky’s films, which was co-authored with his wife, Sarah Markgraf.
Mr. Biermann has taught at Barat College, Horizons: the New England Craft Program, and is currently a Professor of Art at Bergen Community College.
DVD, 1 hour 9 min, sound, Gregg Biermann 2002
Narration written by Sarah Markgraf.
“So I watched Material Excess last night. I'm going to sort of break my self-imposed "week before commenting" rule. -so I'm doing my robot-cog work stuff this afternoon and I'm still thinking about it, which is a good sign, as I usually reserve that time for contemplating my own mortality and nitro-burning funny cars.
I'm guessing a couple of years of work in the commercial graphics business and teaching in a graphic arts program really left a psychic dent. I'm similarly dented, and it fingered my dent. It's fantastically anti-graphic, the whirling, searing, consumer-crap mandalas. It's kind of like the "entering the monolith" sequence of 2001, except instead of saying "my god, it's full of stars" I said "sweet jesus, it's full of loden-colored sweaters and buy one-get-one-free 30 count Pampers." Possibly your angriest work, and quite an ordeal. I lost sleep over it.
Never before has the journey of natural object to substrate to daily irritation to birdcage liner been so harrowingly portrayed, likewise the descent of thinking, emotional, skeptical being into impulse shopper. It actually frightened me.
I used to drop acid and go to Wegmans supermarket to "wallow in the pornography of muchness". So for that, I guess I know now where I'm headed, post-demise.
I guess to point out the banality of evil you have to point up the evilness of banality. Or vice-versa.I was taken by the constant struggle or inversion of the humane vs the robotic - the stupid, lurid and banal vs the mesmerizing.
In the Tate gallery in London, in the "apocalypse + hellfire " wing and there's this huge John Martin painting "On The Great Day Of HIS Wrath" hanging there, with the scary god-clouds and huge hell-hole opening up, swallowing all the toga-wearing heathens and Doric columns. It occurred to me that you've completely de- estheticized hell, hopefully keeping suburban teens from ever wanting to worship Satan.
So basically, I'm saying, yeah, I was into it.”
--Steve Bartoo ^
Waters of Casablanca
DVD, 6 min, sound, 2002, Gregg Biermann
A single frame from the classic film is transformed into six minutes of hyperactive animation. Although the process is entirely digital, it actually relates to the hand-made, or direct film tradition more than most computer animation. The technical part of it was that a single scan of a still from the film was made. Then that scan was then cut into long strips and placed into a long, thin image file in the photo editing program. The strips were copied into these long, thin, image files at several different resolutions accounting for different levels of eventual fragmentation in the segments of the movie. This image file has time-code on it and it allows the video editing software to split the file up into separate frames in the. Since I am not really cognizant of where the frames will be in the movie file when I am dealing with it as a single still image, there is an element of randomness in the compositions. There are several superimpositions and mattes going on at different frame rates later on in the piece as well.
(Winner, Grand Prize, Best
Experimental Film-New Jersey International Film Festival, 2002) ^
and Aberrations on Your Retina
11 min, video, silent, 2001, Biermann
Occurrences and Aberrations on Your Retina was created entirely on a computer and is a visually stunning kaleidoscopic chromatic study. ^
6 min, video, sound, 2001, Biermann
Durations is a haiku-like everyday inventory of images and sounds which is paradoxically iconoclastic and representational at the same time. ^
10 min, live electronic music/video performance, 2000, performed by Ron Mazurek, Mazurek-Biermann
This prepared piano piece for the 21st century blurs the line between live performance and cinema recording. Musical events as well as cinema edits are triggered live via a MIDI keyboard. Piano Etude was conceived of first as a para-cinema performance where the music does not exist as a separate entity from the image. In fact we were most interested in the play of synchronous sound and image with other more musical sounds that are not bound to an image sequence. Here we have a concerto form sync sound and image is the soloist and async is the orchestra. In order to give Ron some freedom to improvise I had to compose sequences which could be played in a variety of different relationships and still work. We both like the economy of this piece-- there doesn't seem to be anything extra. ^
10 min, live electronic music/video performance, 2001, Mazurek-Biermann, performed by Ron Mazurek
This piece is a random
access, entirely live re-edit of an existing film sequence from a 1945 melodrama.
This reedit pushes the film towards its
more musical characteristics while also at times accentuating aspects of the drama. The result is strangely humorous. ^
10 min, live electronic music/video performance, 2002, Mazurek-Biermann, performed by Ron Mazurek
Suspended Animation is a hyperactive, pulsing, percussive, real-time piece. The piece addresses the nervous system directly with its optical phenomenon. ^
20 min, 16mm, sound, 1993, Biermann
Many of my movies have been single entities comprised of a series of almost whole separate shorter movies inside. This is the result of my approach to sequential organization of moving pictures which is like the organizing forces of a storm, with an eye, and torrents spinning out from the center. There isn’t a perfect mathematical pattern in these compositions, but there are distinct episodes with edges, and their currents exert force on each other-- usually pushing away from a nearest neighbor but also calling across time to another. These currents are arrived at by eliciting different kinds of attention from the viewer,causing a fissure each time there is a shift. You Never Worry is a piece that begins much like my earlier film ‘Montage’ but unlike that film takes several surprising turns which seem to break the film’s consistency but actually point its overall structure. The film has many dissonances between the contents themselves and between content and how it is revealed. It is almost as if the process and subjects are actually at odds with one another. ‘You Never Worry’ is about the tension between information and sensations, and operates in an arena where meaningfulness is anything but perfunctory. ^
Hobgoblin of Little Minds
8 min, video, 1999, Biermann
“Gregg Biermann’s The Hobgoblin of Little Minds mixes abstract imagery and representational photography to create powerful visual disruptions, the pieces seeming to spin away from each other by returning to certain images-- often banal ones such as a store sign --he suggests a mind haunted by trauma.” --Fred Camper ^
14 min, video, 2000, Biermann
In “Gregg Biermann’s enigmatic Dissonances...black and white stills from an airline flight suggest a disaster (oxygen masks, passengers in crash position), as does an urban roadway once we realize it was JFK’s roadway in Dallas. Biermann denies the usual meanings: some sections are silent, and the shifting relationship between the sound and imagery seems somehow to relate to the sense of disaster.”-- Fred Camper ^
16mm, Sound, 8 min, 1996, Biermann
In 1992 my friend and colleague Francis Schmidt began work on a way to transfer video to film by using the serial port on a home computer to very accurately control film camera motors. When I arrived in Chicago in early 1994 he suggested that I create a piece on the computer and transfer it onto film. I then proceeded to create a piece in the antiquated 1-bit/pixel environment, in spite of the tendency for technologies to be created and abandoned before significant works are created with them. The work is the apotheosis of the Amiga computer, and a nostalgia piece for modernism. It recalls abstract animation of the 1920’s ,early computer sound experiments like those done at Bell Telephone Labs in the 1950’s, and the first video game: Pong.
“...with minimalist imagery generated entirely on a computer, Biermann defies the “bigger, louder, faster” mentality that has become the norm of computer graphic artists, in favor of simple black and white abstractions that explore the space of the screen. When accompanied by his original composition the objects seem to be creating sound, often to unexpectedly silly ends...”-Scott Trotter, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago ^
16mm, Sound, 9 min, 1993, Biermann
“Young filmmakers today produce challenging work but offer their art as tentative, provisional, incomplete, ...without purporting to reach conclusions. In ‘Detached Americans’ Gregg Biermann pans a San Francisco landscape with the camera tilted sideways and adds the voice of a boy who witnessed the L.A. Riots to create a displaced feeling...” --Fred Camper ^
17 min, 16mm, sound, 1990, Biermann
“In Gregg Biermann’s 17 minute ‘Montage’ allusive often abstract images - a silhouette, some trees, geometrical light patterns - are intercut to form repetitive and rhythmic sequences. But just when you think Biermann’s using set patterns, the order switches. The mysterious aura that results leaves you feeling that the images are indeed trying to say something; you just can’t figure out what that is. This is O.K.: Biermann wants to avoid simple narrative explanations.” --Fred Camper, Chicago Reader ^
of the Sea
30 min, 16mm, sound, 1992, Biermann
"The epic "Giants of the Sea"... attempts to reconcile abstract and representational images, (and) teeters on that friendly chasm beteen the lyrical and the structural" --Brian Frye, RBMC ^