Nov 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Sublime Optics: Documentary, Geography, and Mapping
With Peter Bo Rappmund and Laura Kurgan.
Few moving-image artists can claim to have developed and practiced their own recognizable genre, but in the three feature-length pieces he has made since 2010—Psychohydrography, Tectonics, and now Topophilia—Peter Bo Rappmund has done just that.
Read an essay about Topophilia by Paul Dallas, curator of this program:
64 min., 2015
Topophilia traces the 800-mile path of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), and examines one of the most historically productive oil routes in the United States. Completed in 1977, TAPS unique structure runs both above and underground through pristine Alaskan terrain—up mountain passes, over frozen tundra, and across hundreds of rivers and streams. From numerous extraction points on the North Slope, hot crude oil is moved the entire length of Alaska via TAPS to the Valdez Marine Terminal, where ships load the petroleum before they voyage to ports around the world. This terminal was the initial point of departure for the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, which ran aground on the Bligh Reef in 1989 and resulted in the second largest oil spill in U.S. history.
Shot entirely with a stills camera, Topophilia studies a pipeline’s inherent linearity and its unwavering repetition in construction. The documentary presents these architectural elements as both foreground and background; recurring patterns in the structure become fixed points that illuminate movement and stasis in natural and man-made landscapes. Through the use of frame by frame animation, time-lapse photography, looped sequences, and layered field recording compositions, the film decodes hidden messages of the built environment, and portrays TAPS and its surroundings harmoniously as a continuous, giant building; a space that not only reorders ideas about landscape and our place within it, but one that also offers an unmistakable juxtaposition between the endgame of industrial revolution, and the modern ecosystems where this scenario ultimately plays out.
Peter Bo Rappmund is a Texas-based artist whose practice relies on understanding both empirical and metaphysical properties of the environment. He has exhibited at a variety of venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Anthology Film Archives, George Eastman House, National Maritime Museum, London, REDCAT Los Angles, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Locarno, New York, Vienna, Ann Arbor, and Hong Kong International Film Festivals. Rappmund held a solo exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum in 2012, and recently worked as principle photographer on Thom Andersen’s, Reconversão, a film about Portuguese architect Souto de Moura. Peter Bo Rappmund received a MFA from the school of music and school of film/video at CalArts
Laura Kurgan teaches architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning at Columbia University, where she is Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) and the Director of Visual Studies. Her work explores problems ranging from digital location technologies, the ethics and politics of mapping, to new structures of participation in design, and the visualization of urban and global data. Her recent research includes a multi-year SIDL project on “million-dollar blocks” and the urban costs of the American incarceration experiment and an exhibition on global migration and climate change, “Native Land: Stop Eject,” at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. Her work has appeared at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Whitney Altria, MACBa Barcelona, the ZKM in Karlsruhe, and the Museum of Modern Art (where it is part of the permanent collection). She was named one of Esquire Magazine’s ‘Best and Brightest’ in 2008, and was awarded a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship in 2009. She has published articles and essays in Atlantic Magazine, Volume, Grey Room, Assemblage, and Else/Where Mapping, among other books and journals. Her monographic book is Up Close at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics (MIT Press, 2013). spatialinformationdesignlab.org
Paul Dallas is a Brooklyn-based writer, journalist and programmer. His writing has appeared in Artforum, BOMB, Cinema Scope, Extra Extra, Film Comment, Filmmaker, IndieWire and Interview. He has curated film series for the Guggenheim Museum and Maylses Cinema in New York. He studied filmmaking at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a graduate of The Cooper Union’s School of Architecture. He is a 2015 Robert Flaherty Film Fellow and a 2008 Schindler Fellow at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles. He recently worked on Michael Almereyda’s new film Marjorie Prime, and is developing a narrative feature with director Frédéric Tcheng.