Magic Lantern Cinema Presents
“The Crowd Show”
Curated by Paige Sarlin
July 1 | 7 pm
The Crowd Show – brought to you by the Providence, Rhode Island-based Magic Lantern Cinema – is a series of experimental shorts, each treating that most urban of entities. Lined up before the lens of a camera, the crowd is transformed for an audience into a figure of both order and disorder, a representation of humanity as a whole, of social totality and its movements, of its power and force. Legendary avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs will be present to discuss his film, screened as part of the series, along with curator Paige Sarlin.
“For the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.”
– Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire, the author of “The Painter of Modern Life,” was a keen observer of the crowd. It was a figure he described often. It was the force against which he measured his experience of change, and his various descriptions register a full spectrum of ambivalence towards transformations in the urban context. In one prose poem he wrote: “Lost in this mean world, jostled by the crowd, I am like a weary man whose eye, looking backwards, into the depth of the years, sees nothing but disillusion and bitterness, and before him nothing but a tempest which contains nothing new, neither instruction nor pain.” Staging the encounter with the urban crowd through the mediation of film and video I hope will produce something a bit less depressing. Cinema offers up the potential to hold up the experiences of being overwhelmed and inundated, surrounded and encompassed, to a kind of scrutiny which enables distance and re-consideration.
This evening’s re-presentations of crowds contemplate the relationship of the individual to the multitude, highlighting the correspondence between the viewer and the filmmaker as they work to make sense of images and perceptions of political and technological change. Tonight’s films chart a progression from 1893 to 2006 and trace how the look, purpose and direction of media have changed along with the crowd. Meditating on the movement of history, this show considers what it means for large groups of people to come together in front of a camera and how images of crowds work to represent the emotional and political power of both human cooperation and antagonism. The Crowd Show will include a recent video piece by the legendary avant garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs, an activist video from the New Orleans based no-tv collective founder Mary Beth Black, and two documentaries from Czechoslavakia. So come down and join the crowd – the audience, that is – and you can experience the sights and sounds of people on film.
The Crowd Show was originally screened in Providence Rhode Island as part of an ongoing experimental film and video series entitled Magic Lantern Cinema. The series was founded by filmmakers Ben Russell and Carrie Collier in 2004 and has grown to include a total of five different curators who program thematic shows that screen every three weeks at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence. The project is funded in part through Brown University and the Rhode Island Council on the Arts and through a reduced admission fee. In addition to these monthly screenings, Magic Lantern has begun to develop a series of filmmaking workshops and to screen programs in other locations as well. The program is slightly modified from the original line up which can be found on our website.
FEATURING: Surging Sea of Humanity by Ken Jacobs (11:00, video, 2006), Two Czechoslavakian Films (22:00, 16mm, 1967 & 1969), One Armenian Film (30 minutes, 16mm, 1968), People Say by Mary Beth Black (8:00, video, 2006)
TRT: 69 Minutes
Surging Sea of Humanity by Ken Jacobs (11:00, video, 2006)
Time traveler Jacobs, seeing double and in depth, is admitted to the grounds of an exposition in the year 1893. Promptly turning the world on its head the unsettled contents spill forth, rising in waves.
Two Czechoslavakian Films (22:00, 16mm, 1967 & 1969)
Two crowd surprises!
Unnamed Armenian Film (30 minutes, 16mm, 1968)
A cinematic expression of community and nation unity.
People Say by Mary Beth Black (8:00, video, 2005)
Marches and protests articulate resistance and cohesion in this video that documents the coming together of people working to rebuild and live in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. For more information see: http://notv.plentyfact.net/about/