Jan 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm
The Aesthetic of the Fragment
With Soon-Mi Yoo, Melissa Ragona and Federico Windhausen.
These nonfiction films and videos are composed of ambiguously-related parts. These can include excerpted spoken statements and text-as-image passages, historical documents and contemporary iconography, enigmatic narration and visual ellipses. Each work constructs sound-image juxtapositions and concatenations of scenes with various points of connection. Their arrangement and design presumes that the spectator will attempt to generate or find possible meanings-despite or even because of their initial, apparent opacity.
The program proposes that these works comprise a “constellation” model of the essay film/video, whose key elements are a high degree of informational ambiguity and a commitment to an aesthetic of the fragment. In the context of a discussion of essayistic forms, the term constellation is meant to evoke its usage by Walter Benjamin, who referred to ideas as constellations and who attempted to describe the dynamic relationship between particulars and concepts. Benjamin is merely a reference point, however, since our focus will be on the moving image and its unique modes of address.The films in the program are also unified by a tendency to link depictions of place with reflections on history.
Threading together historical episodes and scientific descriptions, Lea Hartlaub’s Bensberg September 2009 is ostensibly about earthquakes and seismographic studies, but in its recounting of odd and unexpected incidents, it becomes cumulatively suggestive. An earthquake, or rather its aftermath, is also relevant to Anna Marziano’s The Mutability of All Things and the Possibility of Changing Some, which offers a portrait of L’Aquila, Italy, and certain of its inhabitants. Like Marziano’s film, I Am Micro, by Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel, juxtaposes a voice-over interview and the representation of a visually striking locale (contrasting the words of an Indian filmmaker with images from an optics and camera company in Jadavpur, Kolkata). In Soon-Mi Yoo’s Dangerous Supplement, a number of its landscape shots are found footage artifacts, filmed by the American military during the Korean War; in the words of the late Mark Lapore, “All the images/places are metaphorically flawed or incomplete, being lost as fast as you can see them.”-Federico Windhausen
Bensberg September 2009 by Lea Hartlaub
11 min., 2010
A detached house on a mountain by Cologne, a station. The earth’s movement is monitored and recorded. An archive in the basement, 54 years stored away in this room. A dial gauge ticking through the old tubes. – Academy of Media Arts Cologne
The Mutability of All Things and the Possibility of Changing Some by Anna Marziano
16 min., 2011
This journey into mutability takes place in Abruzzi, Italy, in a territory that was damaged by the earthquake in 2009. By way of fragments of conversations, archive material and readings in public spaces, the film explores the becoming of individual and social bodies. How should one accommodate the perpetual new beginning of things and continue participating in the transformation of a community? – Anna Marziano
I am Micro by Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel
14 min., 2011
Shot in an abandoned optics factory and centered on the activities of a low budget film crew, I am Micro is an experimental essay about filmmaking, the medium of film, and the spirit of making independent cinema. – Shail Heredial & Shumona Goel
Home Movies Gaza directed by Basma Alsharif
24 min., 2013
Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a microcosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human rights, this video installation claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity. – Basma Alsharif
Dangerous Supplement directed by Soon-Mi Yoo
14 min., 2005
Dangerous Supplement looks at the cultural and perspective balance between aerial shots and everyday life on the ground, between blunt intent and incidental evidence and between past and present. – Film Festival Rotterdam
Korean-born Soon-Mi Yoo works with various media and genres, including photography, film, installation and text to explore marginalized histories. Her work has been exhibited at festivals internationally, including Oberhausen, Pompidou Center, New York Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and Seattle IFF, and galleries across the country, including the International Center of Photography and Boston Center for the Arts. Her films include Pink (2011), Dangerous Supplement (2005), ISAHN (2004), ssitkim: talking to the dead (2004), faith (1999), Do Roo (Circling Back, 1994). Her photographs of the Comfort Women (victims of sexual slavery in the Japanese “rape camps” during WW II) survivors are published in “Comfort Women Speak: Testimony from Sex Slaves of the Japanese Military ” in 2000. She is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Media Arts Fellowship, a fellowship from the American Photography Institute, the Corcoran Alumni Award for Excellence, and the National Asian American Telecommunications Association Grant.
Federico Windhausen is a film scholar whose research areas include Latin American cinema and experimental practices in film, video and new media. He teaches at the California College of the Arts. His writing can be found in Hitchcock Annual, October, Grey Room, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, The Moving Image, MIRAJ: Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Millennium Film Journal, and Senses of Cinema. He recently edited an all-interview issue of the San Francisco Cinematheque’s journal Cinematograph, and he is writing a monograph on Paul Sharits.In May 2014 he will curate the first Oberhausen Seminar, a project by the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, LUX (London), and The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (New York).
Melissa Ragona’s essays and reviews have appeared in October, Frieze, Art Papers and in the edited collections Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound, eds. J. Beck and T. Grajeda (U of Illinois Press, 2008), Women’s Experimental Cinema, ed. Robin Blaetz (Duke University Press, 2007), and Andy Warhol Live (Prestel, 2008), among others. She is currently completing a book on Andy Warhol’s tape recordings tentatively titled Readymade Sound: Andy Warhol’s Recording Aesthetics, forthcoming from University of California Press, Berkeley. She is an Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Art History in the School of Art at Carnegie-Mellon University.