Program Notes for Let's
curated and introduced by Astria Suparak
for 50th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival
and Video Stills: Click on the links below each image for print-quality
> Posters and photos from shows
> Tour Dates
> Longer text on program and videos
Let's get tested
Let's get tested presents recent video, film and audio by Canadian, American, Brazilian and French artists, young at heart or in age. Playfully adapting public space into personal games, these makers look at architecture, videogames, biology, schoolwork, history and even their own memories with fresh eyes and twitchy fingers. Often sincere, sometimes willfully naive, they project a new optimism and the ability to self-amuse and re-imagine.
Let's get tested frolics under a handmade sun with a few dark cultural reflections. Culled from work I've seen over the past year, it embraces videos made for the Internet, CD-ROM and DVD zines (the new casual pop distribution), crafted with consumer software such as Flash animation, iMovie, Adobe After Effects and Macromedia Director alongside obsolete video formats pried out of dead cameras. Here the coolest nerds hack up a 1980s iconic revelry/reverie [Welcome to my Homey Page]; American Midwesterners romanticize 1970s German political terrorists [Digits]; a Canadian snubs murder commands to peacefully stroll through Grand Theft Auto 3 [My Trip to Liberty City]; and a videomaker refashions his memory into a sweet and disturbing mélange of literature, pop songs, film and news reports [Son of Samsonite] - all trying to make the grade while honoring arbitrary rules. Attempting to keep spirits up in times of strife, this program opts-out of violent spectacle, reckoning that life should be savored and wonder is a calculated state of mind.
As a curator I'm reluctant to make grand statements about the future of short film. The future can only be imagined with what exists in the present. Thus I try to spin intuitive connections into tightly wound shows, letting the audience discover nuance and resonance at their leisure. These artists move fluidly amongst performance, writing, printmaking, music, photography and installation, and one revealed in a disclaimer, "I don't have a preview reel or screening history -- I just make silly movies with my friends, primarily for our own amusement." How novel.
Canadian and American videos, film and audio join (their nonexistent) hands and head over to your neck of the hood.
Taking education, biology, architecture and history as starting points, these artists craft their own novel amusements. Hot on the Pursuit of the Trivial, their taste turns gamey, playful, and chummy. The coolest nerds hack up a 1980s iconic revelry/reverie; an American Midwesterner romanticizes 1970s German political terrorists; a Canadian snubs murder commands to peacefully stroll through Grand Theft Auto 3; a videomaker refashions his memory into a sweet and disturbing melange of literature, pop songs, film and news reports - all trying to make the grade while honoring arbitrary rules. Sometimes spontaneous, sometimes laboriously schemed, sporting low-res Flash animation then slipping into silky digital video, this set of eclectic work reckons that life should be savored, wonder is a calculated state of mind, and love will survive...
LET'S GET TESTED includes works and premieres by Alex Villar, Gabriel Fowler, Jeff Chapman, Jennifer Schmidt, Jim Munroe, JoEllen Martinson and William Scott Rees, Jon Sasaki, Kon Petrochuk, Mike Olenick, Miranda July, Paper Rad, Patrick Martinez and Sandy Plotnikoff.
- Astria Suparak, Curator, "Prospektive / Prospective on Short Film", Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen catalogue
|1. Temporary Occupations
director: Alex Villar
Location of production: New York, NY / Year of production: 2001 / Length: 4:00 minute excerpt of 6:00 / Original format: Mini-DV / silent
"Temporary Occupations depicts a person running on the sidewalk in New York while ignoring the city's spatial codes and therefore resisting their effects upon the organization of everyday experience. The clips in the video register situations of temporary invasion and occupation of private spaces located in a public setting. The action simply articulates the continuity of these spaces with the remaining areas from which they were extricated, drawing attention to, and possibly subverting, the boundaries that demarcate them.
This piece is part of a long-term investigation and articulation of potential spaces of dissent in the urban landscape, which has often taken the form of an exploration of negative spaces in architecture." -AV
Bio: Alex Villar. Born in Brazil, 1962; based in New York; MFA from Hunter College, 1998 and Whitney ISP fellow, 2000. His works draws from interdisciplinary theoretical sources and employs video-performance, installation and photography.
|2. Not Microwavable
director: Jeff Chapman
Pickering, ON / 1995 / 1:47 minutes / VHS-C (subsequently pried out of the dead camera)
Bio: "Well, I'm just a guy." -JC
Over three months Jennifer responded to the series
of test forms - filling in answers with a #2 HB pencil according to a
given set of rules and unknown objectives.
|4. Circle Game
director: Jon Sasaki
Toronto, ON / 2002 / 5:28 / mpeg-1 Digital Video
"Circle Game recalls with affection a mysterious and somewhat violent
high school pastime."
Circle Game by J.Sasaki
Print-quality jpg (2570x1903 pixels)
|5. My Trip to Liberty City.
director: Jim Munroe
Toronto, ON / 2003 / 9:00 / CD-ROM MPEG
"A video travelogue of my time as a Canadian tourist in Liberty City, the setting for video game Grand Theft Auto 3." -JM.
Skins made by Marc Ngui and pic layout by Patricio Davila.
Bio: Jim Munroe, 31, has written three science fiction novels and does a CD-ROM zine called Novel Amusements. His video game column in Toronto's alt-weekly eye is called Pleasure Circuit. His website (nomediakings.org) is home to his projects as well as many do-it-yourself articles on movie and book making.
director: Sandy Plotnikoff
Toronto, ON / 2003 / 1:52 / Mini-DV
"Shot during Spring and Fall 2000 in Toronto, Canada. Photo assistants Christina Felderhof and Rebecca Young (Stonehenge). Editing assistance from Michael LeBlanc. Zoom Rhythm 123 soundtrack by Maura Doyle." - SP
Bio: Sandy Plotnikoff lives in Toronto and can be found online at sandyplot.com
Hoodies by S.Plotnikoff
print-quality jpg (Florida orange) (300dpi, 6x4.5", 1800x1350pixels, 6.95M)
|7. Hit on the
Head with 1000 Anvils
director: Gabriel Fowler
Chicago, IL / 2001 / 00:45 seconds of infinite loop / VHS
"A montage of short clips from Warner Brothers' cartoons at the precise moment when a character is struck, shot, smacked, or exploded in front of the viewer. What unfolds is an endless barrage of unresolved cartoon violence." -GF
Bio: Gabriel Fowler is an artist, curator, and publisher living in Chicago, Illinois. He received Master of Fine Arts in Video from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002.
|8. Welcome to
My Homey Page (excerpt from pjvidz#1)
directors: Paper Rad
Easthampton, MA and Pittsburgh, PA / 2002 / 2:30 / Digital Video
"A tape that celebrates consumer media culture as much as it critiques it. As Paper Rad puts it in their parody of a television schedule listing: 'Episode story summary: Chocofus gets a mysterious video tape in the mail from his cool pals and then somethinng awesome suprise!' [sic]" - EAI catalogue description of pjvidz#1
Bio: At once affirmative and critical, the videos of artist collective Paper Rad synthesize popular material from television, video games, and advertising, reprogramming these references with an exuberantly neo- primitivist digital aesthetic. As member Jacob Ciocci writes, "In the '70s and '80s cartoons and consumer electronics were bigger and trashier than ever and freaked kids out... Now these kids are getting older and are freaking everybody else out by using this same throw-away trash." - Electronic Arts Intermix
9. Among the Living
Bio: Jon Rubin is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores
the extraordinary possibilities of daily life. He has exhibited internationally
and received various public art commissions, fellowships, residencies
Among the Living by J.Rubin
Print-quality image (1637x1200 pixels)
Bios: JoEllen Martinson and William Scott Rees (The Candy Eye Factory) formed a friendship centered in creative collaboration as 12 year old schoolmates in the late 1980's. Since graduating in Media Arts at The Minneapolis College of Art + Design the pair now thrive in various artistic fields. Though their video work has become more experimental, its base remains planted in highly stylized visuals and quirky female protagonists.
11. Untitled (after the visible human project)
14. Son of Samsonite
Total Running Time: approximately 70 minutes.
With support by Novel Amusements, Brett Kashmere, Electronic Arts Intermix, New York, Remote on DVD.
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