TIE Cinema Exposition, September 16

Last fall, Nate and I went to TIE's Expo on a cold, rainy night. It was probably the best cinematic experience I've had.

TIE, The International Experimental Cinema Exposition - a Retrospective
The 2007 Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center Edition
Sunday, September 16th (Program One: 1:30PM; Program Two: 4:00PM)
With Christopher May, TIE Director & Curator, In Person

Since 2000, the internationally-based TIE festival has been a leading champion of artists still working in the medium of film, with a particular focus on both new and historical avant-garde cinema. TIE returns to UNL with two new programs specifically selected for The Ross by TIE founder/director Christopher May. The exhibition features an eclectic range of experimental films that illuminate the continuing vitality and beauty of celluloid, while subtle and at times obvious philosophical and thematic curatorial gestures conduct the flow of the programs.

TIE wishes to give special thanks to the Director of the Ross Media Arts Center, Danny Lee Ladley, for making this event possible.

Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
313 N. 13th Street

Program One: 1:30PM

Pan of the Landscape
(Christopher Becks, 11 min., Canada, 16mm, 2005)
Pan of the Landscapereflects Brakhage's influence … but soon differences begin to appear … the use of painting on film as means of achieving a lyrical, visionary freedom of light and color is deeply undercut, as the solid stuff of the world begins to resemble a bit of a prison.

Vom Innen; von aussen
(Albert Sackl, 20 min., Austria, 16mm, 2006)
"Von Innen, von Aussen is a wonderfully unnerving, scrutinized, study of the human body within the context of its environment. The film opens with an empty apartment set in motion, revolving around a fixed point. This introduces the kinetic fixation that Sackl explores thoroughly within the film, the revolution. Implications of the revolution within man's own self image and man's historic worldview seem to be the larger conceptual concerns of the work. The revolution is then applied to man, himself, where Sackl plays out in a score of variations on the theme. At first, we see an unidentified nude male subject revolving clockwise on his central axis in front of a black background. It is evident that the backdrop is part of the apartment, but it clear that Sackl intends it to be an empirical environment for one portion of his study. Sackl then sets the revolving man in motion back and forth across the face of the backdrop. Sackl continues his formal investigation sending the revolving man back and forth in space.

The next major development is that the image splits and we view the man in stereo. The two men's revolutions are synchronized at first, then each takes on his own timing and direction. At this point the viewer could easily define the film as simply a visual analysis of the male figure in highly ordered motion, but then Sackl presents the environment as variable. Suddenly, the black background is lifted and anonymous natural background is presented. The landscape is initially vacant, but the spinning man soon enters stage right and makes his way back and forth, revolving all the while. The film soon cuts back to the black background where more variations are played out, the most noteworthy being the superimposition of the man's front and back. The visual bio-morphism is totally bizarre. Throughout the remainder of the film, the environment continues to shift between the apartment, natural landscapes and the black backdrop. In the end, the empiricism of the blackened space is beautifully tainted by rays of sunlight that are projected onto the scene from a window behind the camera.

Ultimately, the film has a truly meditative quality, a meditation that encompasses our notions about our bodies and the rules that govern it, both environmental and self-imposed. The precision of the filmmaking is overwhelming, in a way that is echoed in the movements of the male model. Something within the tight order applied to the man's body brings to mind the iconic work of Leonardo de Vinci, which imposes perfect geometries atop the human form."
-Noah Manos, TIE

Peng Peng
(Dietmar Brehm, 7 min., Austria, 16mm, 2006)
"Shots of eyes gazing at each other are cut with a male and female having sex, a black sky with white lightning, and an oddly canted chair while a phone buzzes and rings in the background. There is an intense, erotic tension between the two males gazing expressionlessly at one another as the mustached one chews and twists a toothpick in his mouth. It is so bizarre yet so intriguing that one can’t help but be affected by the unsettling experience.."
- Nick Army, TIE

The General Returns from One Place to Another
(Michael Robinson, 11 min., U.S., 16mm, 2006)

"Learning to love again, with fear at its side, the film draws balance between the romantic and the horrid, shaping a simultaneously skeptical and indulgent experience of the beautiful. A Frank O'Hara monologue (from a play of the same title) attempts to undercut the sincerity of the landscape, but there are stronger forces at play."

(Frans Zwartjes, 15 min., Netherlands, 16mm newly restored print, 1971)
Zwartjes' masterwork and his most favorite film. "Living has an uneasy, indefinable atmosphere. This strange swaying of the camera and the music that keeps going on and on…" Living demonstrates the cinematographic mastery of Zwartjes. He is the main character of the film and handles the camera himself, pointing it towards himself with his hand held out. Zwartjes: "I was as strong as a bear in these times." The film is part of the series 'Home sweet home', in which Zwartjes explores the house in The Hague he had just moved into at the time. His wife and muse Trix plays the other role. The two characters move restlessly through the house. The film was made using an extreme wide angle lens (a 5.7), which gives the image a strong sense of estrangement.

Fourth Watch
(Janie Geiser, 9 min., U.S., 16mm, 2000)

The ancient Greeks divided the night into four sections; the last section before morning was called the fourth watch. In these hours before dawn, an endless succession of rooms is inhabited by silent film figures occupying flickering space in a mid-century house made of printed tin. Their presence is at once inevitable and uncanny. A boy turns his head in dread, a woman’s eyes look askance, a sleepwalker reaches into a cabinet which dissolves with her touch, and hands write letters behind disappearing windows. The rooms reveal themselves and fill with impossible, shadowed light. It is not clear who is watching and who is trespassing in this nocturnal drama of lost souls.

Outer Space
(Peter Tscherkassky
, 10 min., Austria, 35mm, 1999)
Foreign bodies penetrate the images and cause the montage to become panic stricken. The outer edges of the film image, the empty perforations and the skeletons of the optical track rehearse an invasion; they puncture the anyway indeterminate action of the film . . . a shocker of cinematographic dysfunctions; a hell-raiser of avant-garde cinema.

Program Two: 4:00PM

(Carolee Schneemann, 25 min., U.S., 16mm newly-restored print, 1965)
A silent film of collaged and painted sequences of lovemaking between Schneemann and her then partner, composer James Tenney; observed by the cat, Kitch.

Fuses was recently preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago.

"The film was preserved from the collage original, which is as much a celluloid sculpture as it is a movie. The hand-spliced reel consists of footage shot on multiple film stocks, is painted on both sides, contains sections that are composed of splicing tape and is what you might call funky. All the prints we’ve seen of FUSES were made from later generation sources than the original. Thanks to the content of the footage and the construction of the object, Carolee was only ever able to make a reversal positive back in the late 60s. She used this master to do some stretch printing and eventually make an inter-negative, which resulted in a lot of built-in contrast, darkness, and overall softness to the image. The new print, which was made by Cineric Inc. in New York City, matches the vibrant color of the original in a way that the old prints never could. It is really something to behold."
-Andrew Lampert

Blow Job
(Andy Warhol, 35 min., U.S., 16mm newly restored print, 1963)
A sly commentary on voyeurism and audience expectations, Blow Job is a quintessential masterpiece of avant-garde filmmaking.

(Luther Price, 7 min., U.S., 16mm, 2007)

Meat Packing House
(Eduardo Darino, 17 min., Uruguay, 16mm, 1981)
While turning objectification and commodification on its head, this propagandist government film by Uruguayan filmmaker, Eduardo Darino, presents an overview of the process on meat packing in Uruguay. (Darino would eventually set up a small film studio, located in the sex district of Manhattan.)

"The film is absolutely hilarious with a real grindhouse feel (no pun intended) coming from both the music and color palette. Meat Packing House shows the incredibly clean, humane, and sexy side of cattle slaughter. And at every turn we are reminded by real life Uruguayans that they really do have "the best beef". Known for "good beef and good football", this place looks like a tourist's dream come true. People and cattle alike sunbathe on the beach and then the beautiful men and women go out to extravagant beef parties where meat platters flash in front of the camera..."
-Nick Army, TIE


Palm Pilot

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally done something important to advance the cause of justice. He has resigned. (NY Times, 8-28-07)

Today's Science Times has a nice bit of research on non-verbal communication, a linguistic bridge of sorts between the human world and our relatives. Palms up, the universal sign for a handout, is apparently easily understood by chimpanzees, and we've simply added a layer of complexity, the shrug, to say "sorry, dude." The inverse of palms up, a strong palms down, is therefore used to imply authority, like public speakers and those in charge use to shush the crowd and display their control.

Exhibit A:

Alberto Gonzalez: "It's OK, I've got this under control."

The downturned palms are meant to reassure the Senate committee that things are all right, things are OK. You are being told. There is no ask for help here.

Exhibit B:

Alberto Gonzalez: "Uhhh...sorry?"

Still a bit dismissive, but there is a slight shrug, a palm showing up and out. Not quite the asking for a handout palms up, but I wouldn't be surprised if we find one of those in the coming days.


Assault on Bike Path

Via Cheeks of God:

They've been talking all morning on KLIN about a woman that almost got assaulted on the bike trail at around 48th and X this morning. She said some Hispanic guy had a knife and was trying to rape her.

Um. Not cool.


Heatstroke 100

Post Update with photos is coming, I promise, but right now, for the record:

Felice and I did 67 miles in 5 hours today. Success!


No Vampires

Mathias Svalina's
poembook Why I Am White is now out from Kitchen Press. Get it. Mathias will be doing the book release reading in Brooklyn on November 2nd. I think poets need roadies, so I'm attempting to develop the Poet-Roadie persona between now and then.

Last night, Ande, Mathias and I made an excellent array of tapas. Mushrooms in sherry, mixed olive tapenade, pan y tomate, gazpacho, mahon, and plenty of bread, accompanied by sherry and wine. I consider it a distinct measure of success when 3 of 4 prepared dishes contain raw garlic.

Tomorrow is the Heatstroke 100 ride. Felice and I have received our uniforms, and shall be ready to go at 6:30 in the AM.

Oh, Context


The Wanderings of My Subconscious

or The Kale Birther, A Crowded Train to New York and Chicago, The Hectograph, and The Predator

I imagined a woman who doesn't want a baby, births kale instead. I climbed over the heads of people on an aisle-less train, trying to get my bags. The hectograph churned in the background. The Predator enveloped everything below me it its being, scaring me awake.

I've realized I really like the tone bed that is This American Life, more than I necessarily like the content of the shows. I am, of course, always quite enthralled with dedicated listening, but I'm aware also that the sound of the show gives me the same sense of relaxation, even if I'm not paying attention.

The film world is abuzz with mumbles, as mumblecore reaches the pages of the NY Times and others with the debut of Hannah Takes The Stairs. This is the defining film movement of my generation, eh?


TONIGHT! Documentary Screening and Pie Potluck

Tonight at Maggie's in the Haymarket:

Sustainable/Slow Food Pie Potluck with special screening of Living With The Land: Sustainable Agriculture in Nebraska, a film by none other than the author of the non-coastal simulacral extravaganza!

6-8 PM, bring a savory or sweet sort of pie, made with something local. The film will be projected on the building.


Training Week: Ride #1

View Larger Map

Google's new map embed feature is still a little unironed, seeing as though my initial plotted map showed us going straight down 14th Street, not onto Warlick and Hwy 77 -- well, also, not to mention the bike paths we went on can't be selected -- but this is a pretty good sketch of last night's training ride.

Felice and I left shortly after 5 in oppressive humidity and rush hour traffic, had spectacular views of clouds at the crest of 40th and Saltillo Road, and then headed back into Lincoln, only to be completely overpowered by an incredibly fast-moving and powerful thunderstorm. With branches falling and the suddenly cold wind whipping into our tires, we took shelter with the remainders of kiddie football practice at Tierra Park, then waited for a ride (the coaches adopted us a little, making sure we had one coming) from Ande as rain poured, winds gusted to 80 mph, and golf ball sized hail pounded down. When Ande did arrive, we loaded the bikes in the downpour, hail pinging off my helmet, then drove slowly back through neighborhoods darkened by power outages, dodging massive fallen tree limbs.


Start Making Sense

As in the aftermath of any trip, I have returned to the routine accompanied by a distinct sense of malaise. Questions are never just answered, much less so by jaunts in what-might-be lands of make-believe, and yet, just like a snowglobe that sat collecting dust for months, a little shake makes the world look magical, beautiful, and yet crushingly confined once again.

Listening to a fantastic (and granted, few aren't) episode of This American Life entitled "Special Ed" on the road, I was reminded of the daunting task of editing roughly 10 hours of footage I've shot of my aunt telling meandering parts her life story. I've been making excuses about this forever. My mother, now retired, is prodding me as well, and when she starts doing that, it's really time to get serious.

It is truly rewarding to find that friends seeking advice can in turn become reciprocal advisers mere weeks later. Thus thanks to Mike, with whom I've been sharing frequent and long phone conversations on life, love, learning, and confusion. Most recently, the perks of the academic calendar, the regrets of not taking advantage of resources while you have free access to them, and what to make of yourself if what you know is that you like telling people about stuff that is super-interesting. How many times do I start a sentence with "Oooh, I was reading this article....."?

My last trip left me hellbent on planning school. This remains an area of great interest to me, and yet I feel I may have the foresight to realize that I could easily find myself in a similar state of mind four years down the road, pushing e-mails around in a bureaucratic capacity, gainfully yet unfulfillingly employed.

I saw a piece at the MoMA on Monday that had exactly the fusion of media and urbanism I find so exciting. It was a video piece that layered architectural renderings on top of the existing urban landscape, filling brownfields with parks and new buildings, shifting perspective, integrating the visionary phrases that make urban design compelling. Part of what makes this so exciting to me is that such a fusion can and is being done, and furthermore, that it can be done anywhere in the world. I learned from a co-worker whose son is an architect that Google Earth and Sketch Up -- a program that facilitates architectural renderings -- are being integrated such that a designer can overlay their design directly on the satellite photo of the site.

But what of this having a scattershot of passions and interests? Ah, the lure of the family profession, teaching. It would, of course, put me regularly on the academic calendar, that madness that keeps you working non-stop 9 months out of the year, with a shy-of-three-month stretch in the summer to pursue other projects and diversions. And with the developing ubiquity of video as a means of communication, particularly of the independent or so-called "people-powered" variety, it seems as though a background in video paired with some stripe of social/public policy education ought to make a solid educator in the social sciences, does it not?

It remains of phase of dreaming and questioning. Stop Making Excuses. Start Making Sense.


Return Enter

(lots more photos on flickr)

I'm back on the Ol' Great Plains, or in the Lonesome Crowded West, as Modest Mouse once so elegantly put it. It is not hot, but oppressively humid, a strange feeling for Nebraska in August. Perhaps it's because Brooklyn is the place that got the tornado last week.


Alex Svoboda got brutalized by police in North Providence.



Cycling in Brooklyn

Spent the afternoon/evening biking around Brooklyn with my dudes John and Alex. They had an extra '70s Schwinn roadie, lady-frame, for someone about 6 inches shorter than me. We posted it all the way up, and I rode very upright in my dress. Took a few blocks to get the feel for riding against traffic, through traffic, blowing lights, and then a long hill at which I found out the brakes on this bike are not as good as mine led to a near-miss with getting totally run over. After several legs of rides, I'm hooked like an unlucky fish.

We had nice Saturday afternoon reading and beer drinking on a secluded little dock where the Gowanus Canal Canoeing Club is headquartered, close enough to an outdoor concert to hear but not have to pay. Picked up some Cuban food (chile poblano with calamari and shrimp for me) in Carroll Gardens and returned to the dock, where we met a nice dog named Roxy. Then watched the last of the bands from a bridge across the canal.

I could live here. It's been wonderful to be in New York for about 24 hours without having entered Manhattan.


digital loss

Ok, I'll be the first to admit that this is super-pathetic, and very much antithetical to my otherwise relatively anti-consumerist ways. But I can't find my iPod, and it's really pissing me off.

I used it on a bike ride with Nate so we could listen to Fela Kuti. This was before the move. I think I put Gillian Welch on it right before going to Anders's cabin, and then stuck it in my backpack. This was right before the move. I didn't use it at the cabin, so its presence there is only referentially confirmed.

When first looking for it two weeks after moving, I have found only its veins, veins of various sorts, all of its veins. They were mostly in the same place.

Now, as I'm about to embark on a cross-country roadtrip, I've been rummaging over and over through the remaining half-unpacked boxes, to no avail. Could I have really lost it? Where? How? Did I listen to it at work, leave it on my desk, and let it get swiped?

I can't stop talking about it, dreaming about it, and I'd really rather just be able to remember it's a goddamn piece of metal and plastic.