Nov 18, 2022 at 7:30 pm
A conversation will follow the program with Jason Livingston led by filmmaker and researcher Philip Cartelli, with geographer Holly Jean Buck
We’re delighted to welcome back media artist, film programmer, and writer Jason Livingston to UnionDocs! Come through for an evening that celebrates his political, dynamic, and reflexive documentary practice across a program of short and expanded cinema works. From AI and text generated imagery, to participatory poetics, and found-footage experimentation and analog capture, he proposes solidarity against the violence by which “earth” becomes “resource”, finding ways to build a cohesive and grounded “elegy for future ruins”.
We’re thrilled to have Livingston return to UnionDocs a decade later to premiere a new iteration of #RUSHES! Constantly evolving and experimenting, Livingston develops the film’s “occupy poetics’” in new ways in this version.
Richard Porton described:
“Livingston’s ambivalence towards his own attempt to emulate Occupy-style egalitarianism one microcinema at a time convinced him to accompany the film with narration, later transformed into a series of memes embedded in a second version of the film, that undercuts the celebration of a participatory ethos with what he terms a “warm antagonism.” Warm antagonism might be defined as playful self-laceration, almost a parody of the type of self-criticism that was once de rigueur among authoritarian leftists. In the self-détourned version of #RUSHES, Livingston proclaims:: “Against participation, not because participation denies the primary role of the artist in any given work and thus projects an anti-hierarchical fantasy…but because participation itself is a bureaucratic imagination.” That initial screening, “convinced him to launch an extended auto-critique of his own neo-Brechtian assumptions concerning “active spectatorship.”
We’re excited to premiere Shala Raga and Auto Fill at the Landfill. Shala Raga follows promises to “revolutionize” oil shale production in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah. Auto Fill at the Landfill is a co-authored 35mm slide show talk with his missing friend and former Big Tech ML worker, Jeremy. We’ll also screen his latest film Ancient Sunshine, which marks a path through fossil fuel extraction and climate defense in the American West.
Throughout this program we’ll engage with Livingston’s many modes of working to open up conversations around fossil fuel extraction, the climate crisis, the inner thoughts of young goats, and much more! We hope Livingston’s dynamic practice helps us conjure up a poetic solidarity with the pressing concerns his work raises.
Jason Livingston will be in attendance for a conversation following the program with filmmaker and researcher Philip Cartelli and geographer Holly Jean Buck. See you there!
NYC Premiere, 12min., 2015
#RUSHES REDUX reworks #RUSHES, an in-camera 16mm edit of the 1st anniversary/ birthday/funeral of Occupy Wall Street in New York City as seen from an embedded role in the Jellyfish Brigade, an ad hoc affinity group formed to participate in the day’s event. Bold impact fonts compliment and countervail the images toward a warm antagonism. Richard Porton, in Film and the Anarchist Edition, 2nd edition, writes, “Jason Livingston’s short film, #RUSHES, provides an alternative to what the filmmaker himself labels “populist agitprop.” The two versions of the film deploy contrasting reflexive strategies designed to challenge standard representations of dissent and on-the-spot reportage of street activism. While there’s a tongue-in-cheek aspect to Livingston’s self-indictment, the cadences of his manifesto also undermine the pieties of “active spectatorship” and the hallowed entity known as the “emancipated spectator.” The film’s dialogue with its audience, and with itself, is close to the kind of “auto-ethnography” that David Graeber proposes as a riposte to the vanguardist sensibility.”
NYC Premiere, 5min., 2015
Set to an excerpt of Don Cherry’s “Malkauns” from his border-erasing 1975 album, Brown Rice, Shale Raga extracts a mining industry in-house video to put pressure on carbon-based capitalist sorcery, in this case EcoShale technology, patented by Alberta-based Red Leaf Resources, Inc. and designed to “revolutionize” oil shale production in the Book Cliffs of eastern Utah. This is an elegy for future ruins.
Yoga Goat Nom Nom
NYC Premiere, 4min., 2019
Yoga Goat Nom Nom delivers a missive from young goats on one of the hottest summer days on record.
NYC Premiere, 20min., 2020
A fossil cast in plastic, an artificial plateau, classic cars running on the fumes of the nation. Ancient Sunshine marks a path through fossil fuel extraction and climate defense in the American West. The film proposes solidarity against the violence by which “earth” becomes “resource.” Utah Tar Sands Resistance has been fighting experimental mining in the Tavaputs Plateau for almost a decade, setting up camp every summer in sight of heavy equipment and construction crews. The film asks, how might the concept of horizontalism be applied to the physical horizon and to capital’s propensity for vertical value creation? Ancient Sunshine interweaves the endless remaking of the Western landscape with labor history, reflections on anarchist organization, and interspecies economies.
Auto Fill at the Landfill
World Premiere, 20min., 2022
I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on with my old friend, Jeremy Levenstein, who quiet quit his Big Tech gig. He’s been sending me curious packages from around the world. Join me for a slide presentation of letters, travel pics, and guesswork.
Jason Livingston is a media artist, film programmer, and writer. His award-winning work has screened widely, including Sheffield, Camden, Rotterdam, Anthology, the Austrian Museum, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Under Foot & Overstory is distributed by the CFMDC, and Lake Affect is available through EAI’s Experimental Television Center collection. Awarded residencies include the Millay Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Jason is pursuing a practice-based PhD as a Presidential Fellow with the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo. He holds a B.A in Philosophy from Cornell University, and a M.A. and M.F.A. in Cinema from the University of Iowa. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees with the Flaherty Seminar.
Philip Cartelli is a moving-image artist and researcher whose film and video work has been exhibited at Locarno Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Visions du Réel, Torino Film Festival, FID Marseille, and Film at Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real, among others. He holds a PhD in Media Anthropology from Harvard University, where he was a member of the Sensory Ethnography Lab, and a PhD in Sociology from the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris). He is currently Assistant Professor of Film and Chair of the Department of Visual Arts at Wagner College, a member of the Comité du film ethnographique, and a mentor in the PEERS pre-PhD program at Zurich University of the Arts.
Make a tax-deductible donation
or become a member today.