September 23, 1998
'HOW DO YOU FEEL ?" a well-dressed man asks Scott Stark in the prelude to his video Unauthorized Access (1993), in which emergency exit alarms on high-rises are tripped and the crime is recorded on the fly. "Energetic," Stark replies. "I'm gonna break the law."
The law that the director addresses here and in much of his oeuvre turns out to be a wider one -- film's oft-heralded power to dominate a viewer. His films -- he's made 50 in 18 years -- plow paths to let a viewer enter into his continual undermining of tradition, in a world where banality pocks a film or video texture to scuttle it from within. Access, divided into thirds, traipses from a nerdy, huffety-puff, ritualized TV vérité to a choppy, droning violation of it and finally to a sleek 360-degree survey off the roof.
Stark is a self-described "passionate purist and cynical skeptic," and those two qualities figure heavily into his newest work, Noema (1998), an electric found-footage statement on pornography. Meditative, a watershed of media(tion) tactics, Noema jogs and shuttles past erotica's sadism and mines the purity of positioning in the fatigued, emotionalized performers and their glum, overworked surroundings. This results in an intense spiritualization of the forms of fleshly continents, a drab, cool basement symphony in which the viewer switches positions fast and haphazardly.
A desktop publisher by day and a sometime S.F. Art Institute teacher, Stark also single-handedly maintains the provocative Web site Flicker (www.sirius.com/~sstark/), one of the most ambitious avant-garde film and video info channels on the Web, with profiles, resources, and opinions regarding the truly independent, underground film scene. And like the process for which Flicker is named -- the slatted effect of seeing between the still images on filmstrip -- Stark continues to mine the gaps of a viewer's perceptual ability with equal doses of probing, dry humor and high-octane nerviness.
Edward E. Crouse
This years winners: Linda Tillery lifetime achievement; Maria Luisa Medonca documentary; Scott Stark film; Robert Moses dance; Rodney O'Neal Austin fine artist, performer, personality; Margo Hall stage; Charles Wilmoth and Deborah Cullinan, Intersection for the Arts stage; Castaneda/Reiman fine art; Julie Deamer fine art; Pamela Z music; The Coup music; DJ J-Boogie, DJ Wisdom and DJ Raw B music; Matmos music; Rebeca Mauleon music; ¡>Carlos! music; Frank 'Dj Cue' Cuevas music; Steve Baker, Freight and Salvage music ; Michael O'Connor and Lisa Pagan, Justice League music; Leonard Chang literature; Kevin Killian literature; Dodie Bellamy literature
PHOTO BY SAUL BROMBERGER AND SANDRA HOOVER