Conflux Works Curated by Glowlab
1 & 7:30 pm
By Brian House with Dwayne Wilson
A series of live performances and resulting audio/video pieces that confront the tension between archival footage of a city and an individual’s memory of the same spaces.
Throughout the late 1990s, media artist Dwayne Wilson recorded hundreds of hours of video on the streets of Denver and New York during a period of radical change in both cities. His videos, raw material for myriad projects, are spontaneous and unpretentious documentation of the immediate city, with an eye for ephemeral detail and juxtaposition. Each video is a narrative experience.
In high school and college, Brian House inhabited these same locations. In Of Keeping, he samples from Wilson’s videos in realtime, assembling audio and video loops to create a new piece over the course of a performance. Having never seen the videos before but being intimately familiar with their subject matter, House’s selection process is a mixture of aesthetic and nostalgic concerns. Particular elements of the urban landscape shown in the videos, though novel at the time of filming, have subsequently taken on great psychological significance in the intervening years. The result is a highly subjective portrait of space informed by the personal relationship of the two artists.
The use of two generations of video technology is an important undercurrent in Of Keeping. The original footage was captured on a consumer Hi8 camcorders and dubbed, overdubbed, and otherwise assembled onto VHS tapes. Displayed on a video monitor directly from a VCR, the footage is also piped through a digital converter to a custom software patch written in Max/MSP/Jitter. The new piece is displayed with an LCD projector and simultaneously recorded to quicktime (for archival purposes). The process explicitly explores the nature of the archive as an active medium, a process central to the cultural transformations occurring with internet video sites such as YouTube. These technologies provide a language with which Of Keeping weaves its tapestry of the city, its memory, and its documentation.
HO CHI MINH CITY/NYC
Urban Attractors Private Distractors
By Angie Eng
This project explores the shared psychodynamics that are involved in group boundaries that identifies what is inside (cultural, spiritual, political) and how it is reflected on the outside (architecture, urban planning, symbols, monuments). The separation of stage (public) and home (private) is broken down into a continuum of semi-public, quasi-private, privacy zones (private attractors), exchange centers (urban attractors). Groups in New York City and Ho Chi Minh City (or Singapore) will conduct public action-experiments to observe the current psychogeography and how it reflects the transition from a modern-post-modern place to a new world replete with mobile devices and abstract space. There actions will be documented as video and posted to the vlog.
By Cut-Up Group
Our definition of play is to deliberately break the rules and invent our own, thus freeing creative activity from restrictions, to redesign aesthetic and revolutionary actions that undermine or elude social control.
Our belief in utilising existing materials on the street led to ideas of changing posters and objects without adding anything new ñ just recycling what was there already. We see this as moving the pieces around like a giant puzzle, whilst commenting upon the action of reordering. As described by Umberto Eco in Towards a Semiological Guerrilla Warfare, the use of the existing media is the only way to comment upon it or challenge it. We are interested in the idea of the ëstreet as a stageí for intervention or creative activity as determined by Walter Benjamin and later the Situationists. Although we put work up in the street we do not define ourselves purely as ëstreet artists, rather artists working in urban intervention. We aim to introduce elements of disquiet into the urban everyday and comment on the existing systems and structures that determine our existence in the modern metropolis.
For the Conflux festival we will create a series of new billboards constructed from existing New York advertisements. Imagery for the new posters will be created using pre-existing patterns in the urban environment to create new formulas for image making i.e. transcribing urban sounds to musical score and using this pattern to create new work. All of the individual pieces of the billboard are numbered so working to a code is an essential part of our practice. Different to our previous work, we intend to create far more abstracted imagery for Conflux. To view construction of our previous work look at the following link: http://www.niubcn.com/galeries/galeria_cutup_cat.htm
After You Leave
By Molly Schwartz
We thought the conflict of the neighborhood only existed in the realm of gentrification, construction, rent increases and population explosion, but there is another battle underwayÖthe mute struggle of the linden, maple, ash, gingko and serviceberry. This project documents a silent war, the war of the trees of Williamsburg/Greenpoint against the dominating infrastructureñthe treesí stoic refusal to submit to the aggressive constriction and unremitting subjugation by the sidewalks, fences, decorative brick borders and buildings in this green battlezone.
Part 1. Short (15-20 sec) animated video chapters recreating and documenting the aftermath of notable skirmishes. Each chapter will be a digital collage, animated from drawings, photos.
Part 2. Online site, for participants to submit their own photographic and written observations of the struggle.
Part 3. Map to guide participants to key locations. Each animated video chapter will also be available for mobile and online viewing, so that observers can watch the battle at the actual location here in the neighborhood.
There seems to be something quietly and very, very slowly pushing back. Vive la treesistance!
The Colors of New York
Too often the city is perceived without senses.
Inspired by this motto, The Colors of New York reveals the city in a new way through colors, photographs, texts, sounds, maps and tags.
The project builds off the Stadtblind work The Colors of Berlin, which was published by Prestel in 2005 and presented at Van Alen Institute in Manhattan, Deutsches Architektur Zentrum in Berlin and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. For Conflux 2007, Stadtblind presents “Part I” of The Colors of New York, premiering an experimental short film combining documentary photography and a musical score composed from sounds recorded of the city’s streets.
Stadtblind is an international non-profit art, design and planning collective dedicated to transforming the perception of urban experience founded by Jesse Shapins, Philipp Schwarz and Celia di Pauli in Berlin in 2002.
The Colors of New York :: Part I sound by by Kara Oehler; photography by Pedro Recarey and Jesse Shapins; design and editing by Phillip Schwarz, Celia di Pauli and Jesse Shapins.
By The Light Surgeons
This digital short was commissioned for the Bigger Picture project in conjunction with the BBC in Manchester, and shown on a public screen in the centre of the city.
The film explores the psycho-geography of the city through the experiences of a local woman who is partially blind. It was fi lmed in Manchester around the location of the public screen. it was created to be displayed on digital cameras and night vision security cameras. The fi lm approaches documentary fi lming making from a unique angle, bringing together live action and animation to portray the city from the perspective of a person that has heightened senses from their lack of vision. The film comments on the issues surrounding disability, our judgement of other people in the city, and our common and shared understanding of public space.
The Light Surgeons are Directors: Christopher Thomas Allen, Robert Pyedroft-Rainbow; Producers: Christopher Thomas Allen, Alice Ceresole; Voice: Joe Welbon
CitySeen Curated by Jesse Shapins & Johanna Linsley of UnionDocs
2 – 7:30 pm
Society of the Spectacle (1973)
By Guy Debord
La Société du spectacle (Society of the Spectacle) is a 1973 film by Situationist Guy Debord based on the 1967 book of the same title. It was Debord’s first feature-length film.
The film took a year to make and incorporates footage from The Battleship Potemkin, October, New Babylon, Shanghai Gesture, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Rio Grande, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Johnny Guitar, and Confidential Report, as well as Soviet and Polish films, industrial films, American Westerns, soft-core porn films, news footage, advertisements, and many still photographs. Events such as the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (who assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963), the revolutions in Spain in 1936, Hungary in 1956 and in Paris in 1968, and people such as Mao Tse Tung, Richard Nixon, and the Spanish Anarchist Durruti are represented. Throughout the movie, there is both a voiceover (of Debord) and inter-titles from “Society of the Spectacle” but also texts from the Committee of Occupation of the Sorbonne, Machiavelli, Marx, Tocqueville, Emile Pouget, and Soloviev.
NEW YORK CITY
*** Video Conference w/ director from Seoul following screening ***
No Damage is a composition made out of fragments from over 80 different feature and documentary films that show the architecture of New York City–its architectural presence as captured on film over eight decades. Lifted out of their original context and juxtaposed in groups, these scenes reveal their emotional implications: grandeur, glamour, the wake of modernism, post-modernism and, most recently, post 9/11 sentimentalism. A number of particular clips that resonate such emotions enter into a non-verbal discourse on age, status, functionality and aesthetics. The feeling of eternity that these giant structures seemed to possess has now changed into the consciousness of finitude.
Buildings disappear for different reasons. They collapse or pulverize; constant damage causes constant transformation. In an elapsed time view these enormous transformations appear like insignificant friction–within Manhattan’s architectural mass, moving like a giant glacier.
“This video is an ode to New York City. On the one hand it shows the grandeur of the city, its imposingness; but simultaneously due to the events of September 11th it also reveals its vulnerable, unstable side. In contrast to so many other films about September 11th, this one has a pleasing closing note, which suggests reconstruction. It is masterfully layered. For example, the film does not focus on how large and static the buildings are, but primarily also on the city’s dynamics. Stracke collected a great deal of found footage and his selection criteria are very subtle. When the film starts you think you are watching a fragmentary whole, but if you pay attention to the camera movements you will notice that they subtly succeed one another. In my opinion, the writhing soundtrack, which has a beautiful atmospheric progression, gives the images a chance to speak for themselves.”
–Bart Rutten, Montevideo Foundation, Amsterdam (from Impakt Festival Catalogue 2002)
By Viktor Kossakovsky
12 minute excerpt
‘Tishe’ consists entirely of shots of a street in St. Petersburg taken from the same window vantage point over the course of a year. Inspired by ‘View from the Window at Le Gras’, the first photograph ever taken and ETA Hoffman’s short story ’My Cousin’s Corner Window’, this a wonderfully observed comic masterpiece.
NEW YORK, BERLIN, MOSCOW & HAVANA
City Symphonies :: Selected Movements
50 minutes of excerpts
City Symphonies are motion pictures that capture the spirit and uniqueness of a city by assembling images of everyday life in that city. The classic City Symphony genre was a silent, black and white, avant-garde documentary that first appeared in the 1920s. As in a symphony, they have movements that vary in pace and intensity. These movies bombard our sight with images of a city (images that often are quite surrealistic) in order to capture its heartbeat and expose its soul. This style of film, exemplified by experimental filmmakers such as Dziga Vertov and Walter Ruttmann, was a perfect marriage of the medium of filmmaking and the subject matter of cities, since both were products of a 19th century modernity that peaked in the 1920s.
This selection features excerpts from four city symphonies, three from the 1920s and a fourth recent experiment in the form from Havana, Cuba.
By Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand
The first “city symphony” film, completed in 1921. Morning reveals New York harbour, the wharves, the Brooklyn Bridge. A ferry boat docks, disgorging its huddled mass. People move briskly along Wall St. or stroll more languorously through a cemetery. Ranks of skyscrapers extrude columns of smoke and steam. In plain view. Or framed, as through a balustrade. A crane promotes the city’s upward progress, as an ironworker balances on a high beam. A locomotive in a railway yard prepares to depart, while an arriving ocean liner jostles with attentive tugboats. Fading sunlight is reflected in the waters of the harbour… The imagery is interspersed with quotations from a poet who is left unnamed.
Berlin: Symphony Of a Great City (1927)
By Walter Ruttmann
A train speeds through the country on its way to Berlin, then gradually slows down as it pulls into the station. It is very early in the morning, about 5:00 AM, and the great city is mostly quiet. But before long there are some signs of activity, and a few early risers are to be seen on the streets. Soon the new day is well underway – it’s just a typical day in Berlin, but a day full of life and energy.
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
By Dziga Vertov
Man with a Movie Camera, is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film by Russian director Dziga Vertov.
Vertov’s feature film, presents urban life in Ukraine and other Soviet cities. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life.
Suite Habana (2003)
By Fernando Pérez
A poetic homage to the city of Havana. A loving and melancholic picture over a 24 hour period of life of this city, the film follows ten ordinary Habaneros as they go about their daily routine. There is no dialogue and no need for it either; music and natural sound accompany the multiplicity of images that weave a unique and intimate picture of a city full of contradictions and contrasts, a city of accomplished and frustrated dreams. Edited like a musical composition, Suite Habana oscillates between documentary and fiction. The ten characters range from ages 10 to 97, and represent the diversity of groups that form the city’s social fabric. Each of them follows a narrative, and we follow their transformations as the workday ends and they prepare themselves to welcome the night, which brings about the daily renewal of the city.
The Trellis – Work of Sunshine and Shade
By Nose Chan Chui-hing
Time is just like a cycle around which all lives find their trajectory. For some, the repletion simply goes on. However, for others it would be a lifetime to meet again at the starting point.
Nose Chan was born in Hong Kong and graduated from University of Hong Kong in Biology. He began making video in 1998, and regularly screens his work locally and abroad. In 2000, he won the Distinguished Award in the 6th Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Award for his piece Well. In 2003, he participated in the 1st Berlinale Talent Campus in The Berlin International film Festival. Chan also participates in many theatre and independent film productions.
Coney Island At Night (1905)
By Edwin S. Porter
A panorama of Coney Island, taken at night: the camera sweeps across the scene from a vantage point well above the area. It then moves in for closer views of Dreamland and Luna Park.
Worst Case Scenario (2003)
By John Smith
“This new work by John Smith looks down onto a busy Viennese intersection and a corner bakery. Constructed from hundreds of still images, it presents situations in a stilted motion, often with sinister undertones. Through this technique we’re made aware of our intrinsic capacity for creating continuity, and fragments of narrative, from potentially (no doubt actually) unconnected events.”
-Mark Webber, London Film Festival (2003)
The Blizzard (1899)
By creator unknown for American Mutoscope & Biograph Co.
The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal (2001)
By Matt McCormick
Graffiti removal: the act of removing tags and graffiti by painting over them.
Subconscious art: a product of artistic merit that was created without conscious artistic intentions.
It is no coincidence that funding for “anti-graffiti” campaigns often outweighs funding for the arts. Graffiti removal has subverted the common obstacles blocking creative expression and become one of the more intriguing and important art movements of our time. Emerging from the human psyche and showing characteristics of abstract expressionism, minimalism and Russian constructivism, graffiti removal has secured its place in the history of modern art while being created by artists who are unconscious of their artistic achievements.
Interior N.Y. Subway
By G.W. “Billy” Bitzer
Starting at Union Square, we are taken for an underground excursion, following the path of a subway train as it makes its way through New York City subway tunnels on its journey to the old Grand Central Station.
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961)
By Agnès Varda
20 minute excerpt
Cléo from 5 to 7 is a 1961 French New Wave film by Agnès Varda. It depicts two hours in the life of a young pop singer (in real-time), Cléo (played by Corinne Marchand), who wanders around Paris while she awaits her biopsy results. As Cléo readies herself to meet with her doctor at 7 o’clock, she meets with several friends and strangers while trying to grapple with mortality.
Building Up and Demolishing the Star Theatre
By Frederick S. Armitage
This film shows the demolition of the historic Star Theatre building (formerly Wallack’s) at the corner of Broadway and 13th Street, New York. To secure this unique picture a Biograph camera was kept constantly at work by specially devised electric apparatus for weeks, during which time exposures were made every four minutes, 8 hours a day. Before the contractors began their work of tearing down and after the last vestige of the building had been removed, 15 seconds of exposure at normal speed were made. Thus in the finished positive one views at first the old Star Theatre standing as it had for years looking down with serenity upon the bustle of Broadway traffic. Then as if struck by a tornado of supernatural strength, the building begins to crumble. Chimneys totters, walls cave in, and whole stories vanish, until at last the site shows only a cellar excavation; and the Broadway cars with the sidewalk procession continue as if nothing unusual had happened.
A Lock to Close Your Mouth
By Verbobala Spoken Video
Verbobala Spoken Video is a cross-border collaboration based near Mexico City. They create site-specific performance art incorporating live video projections, electroacoustic audio and bilingual spoken word. “A Lock to Close Your Mouth” is a video meditation on transport in urban Mexico and beyond. The music is by Verbobala contributer Richard Minardi and founding member Logan Phillips, who also filmed and edited the piece. Of the piece, Richard writes:
The Zocalo in Mexico City is an enourmous public space within one of the most densely populated places on earth. The space served as the centre of Tenochtitlan under the Aztecs, was co-opted for the seat of government under Spanish rule, and today serves as a cultural and political forum of modern Mexican society. Packed with tourists, performers, and vendors, this space yeilds a multi-layered and vibrant audio environment of a living, breathing, cultural landscape. A place destroyed and rebuilt, and like an ancient palimpsest it retains deep traces and outlines of its rich, colourful, and turbulent past.
Source material for this soundscape was captured on a portable MD recorder in December 2005.
Other members of Verbobala include Moisés Regla of Cuernavaca and Adam Cooper-Terán of Tucson, AZ. www.verbobala.com
* * *
Logan Timothy Phillips, a bilingual writer and performer, is originally from the Arizona-Mexico borderlands. Born in Tombstone, he has ranked nationally in poetry competitions and has toured throughout his native Southwest and beyond—to cities including New York City, Paris and Los Angeles. He holds a degree in Spanglish from Northern Arizona University and currently hosts poetry slams in Cuernavaca and Mexico City.
Richard Minardi lives with his partner Leah, and their cat Brian, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He is currently studying maps and music at Simon Fraser University.
Aerial View of Sixth Ave Train at 28th, 26th, 24th
By Djibril Diop Mambéty
20 minute excerpt
Mory, a cowherd who rides a motorcycle mounted with a cow’s skull, and Anta, a university student, have met in Dakar, Senegal’s capital. Alienated and disaffected with Senegal and Africa, they long to go to Paris and work up different con schemes to raise the money. Mory steals clothing and money from a wealthy gay man who had brought him home, and he and Anta book passage on a ship to France. One of the most important, engaged and fascinating movies from Africa – selected for the documenta 2007.
NYC + BERLIN
ARISE! Walk Dog Eat Donut
By Ken Kobland
Film- and videomaker Ken Kobland returns to the urban landscapes he filmed 20 years previously, such as the New York subway and the S-Bahn in Berlin. We leave, we travel, but it’s always the same images that we are drawn to. A moving road movie about eternal departure and arrival.
“A melancholy, semi-abstract video poem made up largely of blurred images shot from moving subway and elevated cars in New York City and Berlin. Woven into the film are fragments of a diary (despairing epigrams like Ôall meaning evaporates’) and a Russian ballad. Repetitive without becoming monotonous, the video evokes an urban sadness that is so insistent it becomes a whole philosophy of loss and resignation.”
—Stephen Holden, “A Thematic Feast of Avant-Garde Videos,” The New York Times (16 July 1999)
By Christopher Petit & Iain Sinclair
20 minute excerpt
London Orbital is an extraordinary and visionary film by Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair about the world’s largest by-pass, the M25. London Orbital is a road movie, a cinematic excursion into the futuristic literature of a century past, and a film dialogue between two writers who are also filmmakers (and vice versa).
London Orbital is, among other things, a meditation on the difference between driving and walking. On Bram Stoker’s “undead”, on H.G. Wells and J.G. Ballard. On time and memory. On the difference between film and tape, sound and image. On trance states and the terror that lies beyond boredom; on shopping and terrorism; on Kabul and the leisure mall. On the invisible triangle of Thatcherism (covert arms deals, Essex gangsters, and drug dealing). On Pinochet and Thatcher as vampire lovers.
Iain Sinclair is the author of London Orbital, a book about his walk around the 120-mile road. Chris Petit elected not to make ‘the film of the book’ and chose instead to drive, and to capture in images the peculiar hallucinatory state that driving provokes.
‘Maverick British director Chris Petit has produced one of this year’s eeriest and most haunting films, London Orbital, a threnody to the M25.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘It is a mediation on the M25 and gives an intriguing history of the occult archaeology of London that the ring-road discloses … Petit has witty and playful apercus for every mile he covers.’ The Guardian