\\ A New Romantic T.V. Sound //
CASHIERS DU CINEMART Magazine:
Peripatetic curator-at-large Astria Suparak presented an excellent program of ephemeral and often willfully hermetic short films and videos titled A NEW ROMANTIC/TV SOUND. The deadpan wit of performance videos like Kristen Stoltmann's SELF-REFLECTING anchored the show on one end, the other held down by jewel-like wisps of films like Stephanie Barber's LETTERS, NOTES and an excerpt from Guy Sherwin's utterly perfect ongoing SHORT FILM SERIES. Stoltmann's 55-second tape is a gem. Totally unpretentious and wryly self-effacing, it consists of perhaps three or four shots of the artist: a pretty, fleshy young woman in a bikini top who speaks a single line of dialogue, "I've been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately, and I think I've figured it out." Figured what out? Who's to say. It's a perfect summation of the best video art of our parents' generation, with a fillip of that refreshing millennial irony. If it took Acconci hours of mortifying self-abnegation to arrive at some universal truth about the human condition, the evidence of which no one but he was really privy to, Stoltmann certainly offers a more economical gesture to similar effect.
Novice video artist Zakery Weiss makes an auspicious debut with his COMMUNICATION, a six-minute record of a telephone conversation with his grandmother. Shot in extreme close-up from an extremely low angle, Weiss's face is so distorted that it's often barely legible. His nostrils loom like caverns and his scruffy stubble and dry lips appear profoundly unhealthy. Particularly to the point, his brutally kind grandmother hounds him about an obviously trivial cold and undergraduate laziness. Oh, deja vu! Seth Price's semi-documentary AMERICAN GRAFFITY (sic) was another real discovery. Though I still have no idea what sort of relationship linked its subjects - two dissipated middle-aged men - or why exactly they ran about railyards haphazardly spray-painting embankments, the degraded murkiness of the image lent the tape a misty pathos, more dreamlike than documentary.
also showed several excellent films (full disclosure - she closed the program
with a found film I gave her titled IN LOVE WITH LOVE), starting with
Guy Sherwin's perfect palindrome of coots (duck-like birds) diving and
surfacing. Shot through the camera once, then flipped and run through again,
the film registers the birds diving into one another, as if passing through
the plane of the screen and emerging on the other side. This dizzying spatial
paradox is worthy of Escher's prints, while thankfully lacking the neurotic
precision that so sterilizes them. I've seen few films more beautiful this year.
Barber's LETTERS, NOTES consists of found photographs overlain
with letraset recountings of found letters. Oblique but subtly perfect juxtapositions
of image and text enlarge her subject - the America of a dreamed childhood -
without devolving into facile "critique." " --Brian Frye,
Full article here.
INDIEWIRE Magazine says of the NEW YORK UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL:
Also a lot more fun...were many of the experimental shorts in "A New Romantic/ t.v. sound," curated by Astria Suparak. Ranging from the formally inventive, Bouncing in the Corner #36DDD by DARA GREENWALD to the embarrassingly personal Communication by ZAKERY WEISS, the program would not be out of place at a museum, as the makers use video more as sculpture than anything else.--Aaron Krach, "Talent Show"
Full article here.
The VILLAGE VOICE:
The talented curator Astria Suparak has put something together... ZAKERY WEISS's minimalist family psychodrama is a standout, and SETH PRICE's heartland nightmare provokes unease. Of the old-timers, TONY CONRAD and GUY SHERWIN are sure to deliver. -- Amy Taubin
The WILLAMETTE WEEK:
The NYUFF highlights that make up "A New Romantic/ t.v. sound," which include work by Joanie4 Jackie artists STEPHANIE BARBER and KAREN YASINSKY, range from surreal to ridiculous. DARA GREENWALD's Bouncing in the Corner #36DDD is just the way it sounds: a pair of enormous breasts jiggling with unbridled abandon-- imagine if Dolly Parton had gone to art school. SETH PRICE's American Graffity is a stupefying collage that, says Suparak, "...seems to perversely enjoy toying with viewers' patience and perceptions." --Brian Libby, "Punk, But Not Rock"
Full article here.
Next up was a batch of shorts curated by one Astria Suparak, whom I'm not familiar with but she apparently gets a special sidebar each year in the NYUFF. I missed her selections last year, but tonite Astria was hawking a videotape compilation of them. I regret now not buying it. Anyway, Astria's selections were collectively titled "Some New Romantic/T.V. Sounds".
Starting things off was SELF-REFLECTING by Kirsten Stoltmann, a film that if you blinked you woulda missed it, but nevertheless intriguing, but then I've always had a thing for doughy chicks in bikinis with emotional problems doing their dishes. This is not the last we've heard from Ms. Stoltmann, either.
I loved the dialogue in Zakery Weiss' COMMUNICATION, recounting an awkward phone conversation between Zakery & his grandmother checking up on him at college. But I'm not too sure if I agreed with the video, a static, extreme close-up of Zakery on the phone. Obviously, Zakery was trying to intensify the irritating conversation, but it didn't totally work for me.
Kirsten Stoltmann's second, and last, film in the batch was the longer, but not necessarily more ambitious TRUE CONFESSIONS OF AN ARTIST. The only pixlevision film I saw in the fest and shot in an eerie green glow reminiscent of CURSE OF THE SEVEN JACKALS, Kirsten's actual confessions are crises that I think all artistic types go through at one time or another. But a cute, quaint little flick regardless.
And the Most Psychotic Film Award of the fest has to go to Karen Yasinsky's creepy DROP THAT BABY AGAIN. Featuring some of the most fluid, realistic stop-motion animation I've ever seen, DROP stars a drab couple in a drab living room, kind of like a moldy Gumby set, that actually do drop a baby again. Completely unsettling without much of anything actually happening. I get shudders just thinking about it.
Cheryl Weaver's PEDESTRIAN ERRORS was a brief silent flick about a woman unable to dress herself competently. Pretty funny when she gets lost in her own sweater, but overall kinda light.
BOUNCING IN THE CORNER #36DDD is supposed to be a tribute to another avant garde filmmaker, Bruce Nauman, but I don't get the reference. Regardless, an anonymous woman with gigantic breasts (see film title) bounces off the walls in the corner of an empty room, while another anonymous pair of hands places objects under the breasts, e.g. a tennis ball, to see if they'll stay, which they do. I can appreciate a good tit joke and I enjoyed the unique angle from which the film was shot, which I can't really describe here.
In another homage, AMERICAN GRAFFITY bears some reference to AMERICAN GRAFFITI, but I couldn't figure that out from watching the film, but which doesn't mean I didn't like this beguiling little flick. I couldn't follow a goddamn thing that was going on, but I found the incomprehensible plot engrossing and the images beautifully shot in a faux '70s low budget style with appropriately gritty cinematography and interesting to watch characters. The programming notes by GRAFFITY's director, Seth Price, claim that the elderly man and young rabble-rouser are different personalities of the same person, but whatever. Puzzling and gorgeous and vaguely depressing: Always a winning combination!
Continuing the '70s look was LETTERS, NOTES by Stephanie Barber, another silent film but with loads of text printed on top of pictures cut out of '70s magazines. The text being snippets from letters hinting at the budding sexuality of adolescents, memories that if they don't go forgotten will scar young innocents for life, even if the memories are accompanied by pretty pictures.
These colorful films were followed by an oddly colorful B&W film, Naomi Uman's PRIVATE MOVIE. The film is split into 3 parts, which I'm not sure what the connection to each other are, but I sure enjoyed the interesting cinematography. I'm not sure how this film was shot, but the images appeared to be burned into the actual film instead of photographed, giving everything a haunting luminescence.
Then, wrapping up "Some New Romantic" was the most conventional film of the bunch, IN LOVE WITH LOVE. Shot kind of flatly, the magic of the movie is in the editing. The story of a love triangle surrounding a porno magazine, the action is repeated several times from different angles which, for some reason, accentuates the humor of the piece, which was pretty funny to begin with. --Mike Everleth. See the rest of the
Full article here.
INSOUND Magazine writes of the New York Underground Film Festival:
...My favorite short films in the fest were on 16mm film, which might be completely forgotten soon due to the cheap alternative of digital video. AMERICAN GRAFFITY is a freeform portrait of two men in a small town and their midwest surroundings, capturing that odd, addictive 1970's film feel; it hit me like a science fiction cigarette ad. -- Mike Plante
Full Program Notes here.
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