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Jan 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Flaherty NYC — Puzzling: The Audience is Tested

Screening to be followed by a discussion with Aki Sasomoto, Liz Magic Laser, and Alison S. M. Kobayashi


The Audience is Tested is grounded by the idea that cinema itself is a test; a controlled environment for delivering stimuli to viewers. The audience, both those present in the theater, and the idea of an audience, is the subject of this screening. This opening program considers the act of presentation and the moment of reception – it implicates the audience, engages with direct address, plays with the authoritative voice, and explores the canned liveness of cinema. This screening is about you.

A puzzle is something puzzling – it expects deduction and solution, while at the same time describes a condition of open confusion. Puzzling, the six-part series, considers these concurrent modes to explore different registers of knowing, the generative possibilities of uncertainty, and the film form as a choreography of sense and stimuli. How can a puzzle, as a challenge and as a structure, destabilize or shape the world? How are the boundaries of sense and non-sense policed? Human and non-human test subjects, compromised figures of authority, and metaphysical detectives populate the series, alongside inquiries on communication, abstraction, and agency.

Find more details here!


Aki Sasamoto in person performance

Aki Sasamoto, 2018, 15 min

In her installation works, Sasamoto often stages multiple performances realizing a drawing each time, referred to by the artist as diagrams. They function as a way of getting her ideas down while thinking aloud about the theme of the project. For this occasion, she will do one of her diagrams. She will decide which topic to talk about based on the weather of the day.

An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior

Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel, 1943, 3.5 min, 16mm

A landmark study in the field of interpersonal perception, in particular in relation to the attribution process when making judgments of others. This animated film was utilized in a classic experiment in cognitive psychology. Subjects were requested to interpret the moving picture-film of about 2 and a half minutes duration in which three geometrical figures (a large triangle, a small triangle and a disc, also called a circle) were shown moving in various directions and at various speeds. The only other figure in the field was a rectangle, a section of which could be opened and closed as a door is. (Moving Image Research Collection, University of South Carolina Library)

New Improved Institutional Quality

Owen Land, 1976, 10 min, 16mm

An attempt is made to escape from the oppressive environment of a test – a test containing meaningless, contradictory, and impossible-to-follow directions – by entering into the imagination. In this case it is specifically the imagination of the filmmaker, in which the test-taker encounters images from previous Land films. (CFMDC)

The Thought Leader

Liz Magic Laser, 2015, 9.5 min, digital

For The Thought Leader, Laser directed 10-year-old actor, Alex Ammerman, to deliver a monologue she adapted from Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground (1864) in the style of a TED Talk. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global series of motivational speeches with the mission to promote “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.” Speakers typically propose idealistic solutions to contemporary issues but have often been criticized for failing to offer tangible steps for achieving their utopian visions. Laser insinuates the Underground Man’s views into the TED Talk format: she applies Dostoevsky’s attack on the socialist ideal of enlightened self-interest to its contemporary capitalist incarnation.

It, Heat, Hit

Laure Prouvost, 2010, 6 min, digital

It, Heat, Hit is a new work that constructs and propels an inferred story through a fast-moving sequence of written commentary and excerpts of everyday incidents and pictures that have been filmed by the artist. Innocent and pleasing images, such as a swimming frog or snowy street scene, are followed by statements of love and implied violence. These are inter-cut with strange, disconnected images, such as close-ups of flowers, body parts or food. As with Prouvost’s other films, the pace tests the limits of perception and makes it hard to take in every image and comment. Repeated viewing subtly shifts what is understood each time, as Prouvost highlights the slipperiness of meaning and notions of reality. (LUX)


Vanessa Renwick, 1998, 2 min, digital

Two sublime minutes of the human experience: the color orange, piano, a wordless documentary on both the inhale and the exhale. The unspoken challenge: can the viewer last without joining the fray?

The Presentation Theme

Jim Trainor, 2008, 14 min, 16mm

A Peruvian prisoner of war is outmaneuvered by a hematophagous priestess.


Lucy Raven, 2011, 4.75 min, 35mm

RP31 is an animation composed from 31 film projection test patterns and calibration charts. In Hollywood, the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE) develops image standards that can be used to test the quality of a film projection. The charts test for focus, aperture, field steadiness, and framing. RP40 is the most common chart, where RP stands for “recommended practices.” RP31 is the second iteration of RPx, an ongoing archive and exhibition project displayed in multiple formats and contexts. (Raven)

65 min

Aki Sasamoto is a New York-based artist who works in performance, sculpture, dance, and whatever medium it takes to communicate her ideas. In her installation and performance works, Sasamoto moves and talks inside the careful arrangements of sculpturally altered objects, activating the complex emotions at work in her daily life. Sasamoto’s works appear in theater spaces, gallery spaces, and landscapes. Sasamoto has shown in exhibitions at National Museum of Art-Osaka, Take Ninagawa, Yokohama Triennale 2008, Japan; Gwangju Biennial 2012, South Korea; Chocolate Factory Theater, the Kitchen, SculptureCenter, Whitney Biennial 2010, Greater New York 2010, New York; and numerous other international and domestic venues.

Liz Magic Laser is a video and performance artist. Her work intervenes in semi-public spaces such as bank vestibules, movie theaters and newsrooms, involving collaborations with actors, surgeons, political strategists and motorcycle gang members. Her recent work uses communication techniques and psychological methods appropriated by corporate and political cultures to revive their therapeutic potential. Her work has been shown at Metro Pictures, New York (2018) Mälmo Konsthall, Sweden (2017) the Swiss Institute (2016); at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2015); at Lisson Gallery, London (2013); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); and MoMA PS 1, New York (2010) among others. In 2017 she had solo exhibitions at CAC Brétigny, Jupiter Artland, Scotland and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam. Laser was awarded the Lead Commission for “The Future World of Work” program at FACT, Liverpool, UK (2018). She recently presented a commissioned daily performance and video installation at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018).


Alison S. M. Kobayashi is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist whose hybrid work mixes documentary and fiction through video, performance, installation, interactive and illustration. Her performance Say Something Bunny! has received critical acclaim, is a NYTimes critics’ pick and was listed in Time Out’s 2017 top ten productions. Kobayashi has received nominations for a 2018 Drama Desk award and United Solo Special Award and is the recipient of the 2006 TSV Artistic Vision Award. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her work was the focus of a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival. She was a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow.


Jan 15, 2019
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm


32 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003 United States
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(212) 505-5181
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