Joan Jonas • Vertical Roll

In this well-known early tape, Jonas manipulates the grammar of the camera to create the sense of a grossly disturbed physical space. The space functions as a metaphor for the unstable identity of the costumed and masked female figure roaming the screen, negotiating the rolling barrier of the screen’s bottom edge. “[Making] use of a jarring rhythmic technique to develop a sense of fragmentation, Vertical Roll uses a common television set malfunction of the same name to establish a constantly shifting stage for the actions that relate both to the nature of the image and to the artist’s projected psychological state.”

—David Ross, “Joan Jonas’s Videotapes” in Joan Jonas: Scripts and Descriptions, 1968-1982, ed. Douglas Crimp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)

see also disturbances on vdb.org

Peter Campus • Double Vision

American artist Peter Campus (born in 1937 in New York) is one of the most influential pioneers of video art, along with artists like Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Joan Jonas, Vito Acconci and Bill Viola. The latter helped Campus install his first major exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse (NY) in 1974. Throughout his career, Peter Campus has produced videos, installations, and a large body of photographic work. In his recent video work, he makes use of digital techniques to work on the image, pixel by pixel, rather like a painter. Using an extremely high-definition digital camera, Peter Campus pursues his current work. A large number of his works are featured in some of the world’s greatest contemporary art museums.

The exhibition “video ergo sum”—the artist’s first solo exhibition in France— retraces the artist’s career, starting with the experimental video art from the 1970s to his more recent video production.

Following studies in experimental psychology and film, in 1971 Peter Campus began to create videos and closed-circuit installations. Their conceptual and technical skill, combined with their psychological and cognitive dimension, resulted in a great deal of attention by art critics and specialists. Campus’s works have become an important reference and have been discussed in numerous publications examining the video as an art form.

The exhibition at the Jeu de Paume begins with works taken from this seminal early phase of his career. In the videos and installations produced up until 1977, Campus explores issues of spatial awareness, and our perception of the body in the construction of identity through the use of unusual perspectives and multiple timeframes. Thanks to the live transmission of the electronic image, he embarks the visitor on a strange and unsettling experience: the confrontation with his double, separated from him in time and space, thereby challenging notions of the self.

From one installation to the next, there is a progressive sense of constriction as the visitor’s actions are increasingly confined. He is no longer surprised by images of himself but is instead confronted with an unknown face: an enlarged projected image of a man’s face staring directly at the visitor. The result is a kind of blockage, an impasse of sorts, an exhaustion of possibilities… The spectator is once again relegated to his activity as observer.

The next part of the exhibition explores the artist’s work from the 1980s to the present day, and opens with a series of black and white photographs of faces, followed by an installation of stones projected onto the walls. With photography, the artist may be said to engage more with the outside world, the suburban space and the natural elements that surround him, onto which he projects his emotions and imagination. Campus’s work continues to explore the notion of perception, in all its sensory, cognitive and psychological dimensions, giving way to an intensification of vision (both physical and mental), and emotion.

Video, abandoned for a time in favour of photography, makes its return in the 1990s. However, the body is no longer the primary focus of experimentation. Although the performative dimension initially persists, it gradually gives way to landscapes, particularly the sea, and other objects affected by time and natural phenomena, or the impact of human activity.

The artist’s current video production is presented at the end of the exhibition. These works explore the possibilities of high definition digital video and allow Campus to create a pictorial work that involves another form of perception and spatial memory. A new piece, convergence d’images vers le port, was especially created for this exhibition.

http://www.jeudepaume.org

Vito Acconci


Centers – 1971

Vito Acconci
B. 1940, BRONX, NY
Vito Acconci was born in 1940 in the Bronx, New York. He earned a BA with a major in literature from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1962. Two years later, he completed an MFA in writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. After returning to New York, he went on to develop a diverse body of work in poetry, criticism, Performance art, sound, film and video, photography, and sculpture.

In the second half of the 1960s, Acconci’s work was centered on poetry and language. In 1969 he began using photography to document various actions, such as jumping, bending, and falling, that he executed in order to understand how his body moved in space. Also in 1969 he performed Following Piece, in which he followed passersby on the street until they entered private spaces. From 1969 to 1974 he continued to explore movement in space, using film and video and adding text panels to his photographs documenting his actions. Some of his performances questioned the nature of gender; other works interjected the private realm into public space. During the 1970 exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, for example, he had his mail forwarded to the museum and went there every day to open it. In Seedbed (1972), he masturbated, he claimed, under a temporary floor at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York, while visitors walked overhead and heard him speaking. In the second half of the 1970s, some of Acconci’s works were comprised solely of his speech on audiotape, and many of his performances forced strangers to interact with one another.

In the late 1970s, Acconci began making sculptures referencing architecture and furniture. From 1980 on, some of his sculptures demanded viewer participation: to complete pieces shaped like simple houses, for example, viewers pulled ropes that erected the four walls. Subsequent works, most installed outdoors, were meant to be sat on or played upon. The scale of Acconci’s sculptures continued to grow, until he was making public art on a grand scale. Since the late 1980s, the artist has worked with Acconci Studio, located in Brooklyn, New York. This collaborative group, which includes designers in addition to Acconci, develops several public artworks and architectural projects annually. On his own and with Acconci Studio, Acconci has produced works for several college campuses and for airports in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Personal Island, designed for Zwolle, the Netherlands (1994), and Island in the Mur, for Graz, Austria (2003), float in bodies of water; the latter includes a theater and a playground.

Acconci has taught at numerous institutions, among them the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, San Francisco Art Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, School of Visual Arts in New York, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Yale University in New Haven.

Since his first solo show in 1969, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Acconci has participated in numerous exhibitions. Retrospectives have been organized by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1978) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (1980). Print retrospectives have been mounted by Landfall Press in New York (1990) and the Gallery of Art at the University of Missouri in Kansas City (1994). Acconci’s achievements have been recognized with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1980, 1983, and 1993), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1979), and American Academy in Rome (1986). He has also received the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1997) and two New York City Art Commission Awards for Excellence in Design (1999 and 2004). He was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2000. Acconci lives in Brooklyn, New York.

https://www.guggenheim.org

Michael Snow • Back and Forth (1969) – excerpt 1

Michael Snow’s extensive and multidisciplinary oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, video, film, sound, photography, holography, drawing, writing, and music. His work explores the nature of perception, consciousness, language, and temporality. Snow is one of the world’s leading experimental filmmakers, having inspired the Structural Film movement with his groundbreaking film Wavelength (1967).

Snow was born in 1928 in Toronto, where he lives and works today. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Toronto (1999), the University of Victoria (1997), the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1990), and Brock University (1975).

Snow has received several prestigious awards including: the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2011), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1972), the Order of Canada in (1982), and the Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres, France (1995, 2011). There has been a great deal of scholarship focusing on Snow, including the multi-volume Michael Snow Project published in 1994 by the Power Plant and the Art Gallery of Ontario, both in Toronto, to accompany four simultaneous exhibitions at the two venues that same year.

Recent solo exhibitions include Sequences at La Virreina Image Centre in Barcelona, Spain (2015), Michael Snow: Photo-Centric at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014), Michael Snow: Objects of Vision, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2012), Solo Snow: Works of Michael Snow, Akbank Sanat, Turkey (2012), Michael Snow, Vienna Secession, Austria (2012), In the Way, àngels barcelona, Barcelona (2011), and Solo Snow, Le Fresnoy, France (2011).

Snow’s work has been included in countless group exhibitions, most recently including the Canadian Biennial (2012), Videosphere: A New Generation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, NY (2012), 1969 at MoMA PS1, NY (2009), and the Whitney Biennial, NY (2006), as well as exhibitions held for the reopening of both the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2000) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), the latter at which three works are currently installed. Snow’s work is in various private and public collections throughout the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Ludwig Museum, Austria and Germany; the Musée National d’Art Modern, Centre Pomidou, France; the Musée des Beaux Arts, Canada; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; and the National Gallery of Canada.

Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Snow since 2004. Solo exhibitions held at the gallery include Michael Snow: A Group Show (2015); Michael Snow: In the Way (2012); and Michael Snow: Powers of Two (2004). Snow was also included in several group exhibitions at the gallery including Works on View (2009), Imposition (2005), and A Charge to Keep (2004).

http://www.jackshainman.com

Pi … faith in chaos

adaptive-images.php

Plot Synopsis: Max is a genius mathematician who’s built a supercomputer at home that provides something that can be understood as a key for understanding all existence. Representatives both from a Hasidic cabalistic sect and high-powered Wall Street firm hear of that secret and attempt to seduce him.

π was written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, and filmed on high-contrast black-and-white reversal film.

In 1996 Aronofsky began creating the concept for his first feature film “π”, a psychological sci-fi thriller. After the π script received great reactions from friends, he began production. The film re-teamed Aronofsky with Sean Gullette, who played the lead. During production, Aronofsky and crew realized they didn’t have enough money to complete the film. Associate Producer Scott Franklin came up with the idea to raise completion funds by asking every person they knew for $100. Later in production certain individuals put in more cash, which let Aronofsky complete the film. After π was completed (with a budget somewhere around $60,000), it premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and Aronofsky won the Directing Award. The film was picked up by distributor Artisan Entertainment and released in selected cities. The film later won an Independent Spirit Award and the Open Palm. $100 investors were said to be subsequently re-paid with $150. However, certain crew members complained that they were never paid at all. Crew members confronted Aronofsky about this, and he claimed he was suing his distributor. Use of the SnorriCam is one of Darren Aronofsky’s trademarks, as featured in π.

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Tony Conrad


The Theater of Eternal Music performing in 1965. From left, Mr. Conrad, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and John Cale.
FRED W. MCDARRAH / GETTY IMAGES

Tony Conrad Was Such a Good Minimalist, He Was Almost Forgotten
By WILLIAM ROBIN
MARCH 24, 2017

In February 1963, a 22-year-old experimental violinist named Tony Conrad stood outside Philharmonic (now David Geffen) Hall in New York wearing a signboard that read “Demolish Lincoln Center!” With the composer Henry Flynt and the filmmaker Jack Smith, Mr. Conrad formed a three-man picket line that spent a day marching at the center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were protesting, Mr. Conrad later recalled, “the imperialist influences of European high culture” and gesturing toward “the dismantling and dispersion of any and all organized cultural forms.”

Anti-authoritarian actions soon became typical for Mr. Conrad, whose significant legacy in music, film and performance remained relatively unknown when he died last April at 76.

“Tony Conrad is as punk rock as anyone who ever had the audacity to call themselves punk rock,” said the writer and musician Henry Rollins, formerly of Black Flag, who moderated a post-screening conversation for the new documentary “Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present” in Los Angeles earlier this month. On Friday, March 31, the film has its American theatrical premiere at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village.

At the time of the Lincoln Center protest, Mr. Conrad was playing a formative role in the sound of Minimalism as a performer in the improvising ensemble Theater of Eternal Music. The next year, he and his roommate, John Cale, were recruited to join a rock group with Lou Reed known as the Primitives, the precursor to the Velvet Underground. Rather than joining that band, Mr. Conrad moved on to other art forms, becoming a pioneer in structural film with “The Flicker” (1966), a trippy juxtaposition of black-and-white frames that reportedly caused some audience members to become physically ill.

“It seemed to be the thing that drove almost everything: There was just an incredible resistance to authority,” the new documentary’s director, Tyler Hubby, said in a recent interview. “It got very deep, the idea of resisting these established institutionalized ideas. Why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we do something different? Why can’t we make something new or see something in a different way?”

continue reading https://mobile.nytimes.com

Stan Brakhage


Stan Brakhage, “Mothlight” (1963)

Stan Brakhage
American filmmaker who brought a unique eye to his craft
Ronald Bergan
Friday 14 March 2003 21.23 EST

Those who consider cinema a narrative art form, and believe that films should have a beginning, a middle and an end – in that order – will have problems with the work of Stan Brakhage, who has died aged 70. His films were difficult also for those not willing to shed the conventionalised illusion, imposed by rules of perspective, compositional logic and “lenses grounded to achieve 19th-century compositional perspective”.

For Brakhage, the goal of cinema was the liberation of the eye itself, the creation of an act of seeing, previously unimagined and undefined by conventions of representation, an eye as natural and unprejudiced as that of a cat, a bee or an infant. There were few filmmakers – film director is too limiting a description – who went so far to train audiences to see differently.

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective,” he wrote in Metaphors On Vision, first published in the journal Film Culture in 1963, “an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.

“How many colours are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects, and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of colour. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word’.”

To a large extent, Brakhage realised this innocent world in his films, restrictively labelled avant-garde or experimental, existing in a parallel universe to the multiplex ethos. His signature was as figurative as it was literal – he would scratch his initials directly on the film’s emulsion at the end credits. Like a painter or sculptor, he worked manually on his material, often scratching, dyeing and altering the celluloid itself, making today’s push-button digital technology anathema to him.

He would hand-paint blank frames of 16mm film, and glue objects to them in a collage. In Mothlight (1963), for example, he pasted moth wings on to strips of film and, when projected, the bright light seemed to bring the insects back to life.

Brakhage was born Robert Sanders in a Kansas City orphanage, and adopted two weeks later by Ludwig and Clara Brakhage, who named him James Stanley. He performed on radio as a boy soprano, attended high school in Denver, Colorado, and, at 19, dropped out of Dartmouth College after two months to make films.

Among his early influences were Jean Cocteau and the Italian neo-realists but, after arriving in New York in 1954, he joined the flourishing avant-garde scene, drawing inspiration from artists and filmmakers like Maya Deren, Marie Menken and Joseph Cornell. He admired Ezra Pound, and was a close associate of poets like Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, and abstract expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning, with whom much of his work has an affinity.

In 1957, he married Jane Collom, and the details of their lives together figured prominently in his work. In Window Water Baby Moving (1959), he unflinchingly and poetically documented the birth of the first of their five children.

In 23rd Psalm (1966), he contrasted scenes of his tranquil life in rural Colorado with footage of the second world war. The quick cuts of the first part, depicting a world menaced by chaos, give way to the contemplative passages of the second, suggestive of a quest for the roots of war – particularly the Vietnam war, then at its height.

Brakhage’s most famous film, Dog Star Man (1964), one of the key works of the 1960s American avant-garde, experimented with the use of colour, painting on film and distorting lenses, while depicting the creation of the universe. It ends with superimpositions of solar flares and chains of mountains over his wife, as she gives birth to their child.

During five decades, Brakhage made nearly 380 films, most of them shot in 8mm or 16mm, and ranging in length from nine seconds to four hours. With a few exceptions, they were made without sound, which he felt might spoil the intensity of the visual experience. He preferred to think of his films as metaphorical, abstract and highly subjective – a kind of poetry written with light.

Brakhage taught film history at the University of Colorado from 1981 until last year, when he retired to Canada with his second wife and two sons, who survive him along with the five children of his first mariage. It is a tragic irony that he seems to have been killed by the art he loved. According to his widow, doctors believed that the coal-tar dyes he used in his filmmaking may have contributed to his bladder cancer, which was diagnosed in 1996.

· James Stanley Brakhage, filmmaker, born January 14 1933; died March 9 2003