Archive for the ‘film’ Category


Hammer, Denis, Barth, and Martin

May 23, 2012

Things have been busy around here. Sorry for not keeping you all up to date…

I just sent off a new article entitled Uta Barth’s Distrust of Narrative Cause/Effect and Agnes Martin’s Surrendered Perfection for an upcoming anthology by Evo Girls. I’ll keep you all posted on that, but I also sent off two new video pieces for exhibition (one to London and the other for the US and Australia). So a lot is coming out right now, but beyond all this thinking about Barth and Martin, I’ve been thinking about having had the opportunity to study and work with Claire Denis and Barbara Hammer. Each are very different, and the way their work looks and approach are completely different, but I think they are both an influence on the work I have been doing lately. It’s odd how these things come together, but take inspiration where you find it I suppose.


Volcanoes (and love) will tear us apart, again

May 21, 2010

Several days ago I put together this video to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis and the Mt. St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980.

When I was little we lived about thirty miles from the mountain. On that morning the sky turned dark, everything shut down, and grey ash snowed from the sky. Schools around us were called off for the rest of the year and ash had to be plowed and shoveled like snow. When school started we practiced volcano drills wearing paper breathing masks and getting under our desks the way previous generations prepared for nuclear bomb drills.

The mountain had been known for its symmetry; the most beautiful mountain in the Cascade Range, the “Mount Fuji of America.” And so it felt like some mythological vengeance or jealousy when the prettiest mountain exploded, destroying itself and everything around.

On the same day singer Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself. Only a month before that the band released the single Love Will Tear Us Apart, and it is probably the song most associated with lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. I like the way the song sounds as the mountain destroys itself, they feel the same, coincide, and remind us that indeed: volcanoes (and love) will tear us apart, again.


Looking for Meaning in the Pacific Trash Vortex

May 20, 2010

With all the coverage around the gulf oil spill lately I’ve been thinking about beaches when I was a kid. Growing up near the coast in the states, we spent a lot of time beachcombing and scavenging the shoreline. When lucky you’d find bits of beach glass, the frosted shards produced by the tumbling action of the shore. Through a simple process garbage was transformed into gems, and there was a hierarchy and system of colours based on rarity. As I got older this glass was gradually replaced by the then still exotic plastic castoffs from Asia; strange junk food wrappers, laundry detergent, and unknown bottles labelled in foreign script, all caught in a direct current from afar. Then it seemed evidence of some elephant’s graveyard of objects, a place where things were drawn to as a final resting place out there, and you were lucky to catch a glimpse of on shore.

And now one hears about the great Pacific Trash Vortex, an immense floating island of plastics and sludge that some say is the size of Texas or possibly the entire continental United States. We’ve made a destination of our garbage, and as such it may still be an elephant graveyard of sorts, however instead of the fevered desire of poachers, we’ve constructed a manmade continent or monument of temporary objects that never break down, always hovering just past our shore and accumulating.

What does this mean when things don’t break down or go away, but instead continually accrue? Exploring this is Ramin Bahrini’s film ‘Plastic Bag’ about a discarded bag struggling with its immortality, and narrated by Herzog.


Martin’s Branwell

September 10, 2008

Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell is a novel that bleeds the line between novel and historical fact. It’s written in a style that traces the tragic story of Branwell Brontë and composites it through the lives of those involved, from golden child and hope of the family to drunken dissolute, all while the politics of family allegiance drift and Branwell falls further into oblivion. This hallucinatory narrative shifts back and forth, switches tense, shows us one reading only to challenge it later, and ultimately unfolds a tale embroidered of speculation, suspicion, and earnest confession, where one is never certain of the absolute truths.

The novel feels invitingly Nineteenth Century, a lost Jane Eyre, yet contemporary and pluralistic. Like Victorian novels it follows the main character from early childhood until death, but here the voice is many blended perspectives. The result is a dream or hallucination that feels true and harvested from the period. I’ve always had a soft spot for old British novels like Jude the Obscure, Mill on the Floss, or even Moll Flanders. This has the same sense of inevitable doom, with damp decayed surfaces, but the success of Branwell is that it doesn’t mimic these other works. It’s not a copy of style, but something hybrid and new hewn out of the pieces of something else, halfway between poetry, biopic, and a novel.

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Liminal Space in The Science of Sleep

April 28, 2008

When The Science of Sleep came out in theaters I was teaching a Surrealism class to a group of about thirty high school students at a public school as part of my film program. One of the hardest things to teach students at that age is content. They were great with technique, craft, and formalism, but the hardest thing was to get them to understand what their work was or could be about. This class was probably one of the most successful tools I had for helping students to understand this leap, and in retrospect it helped me with my understanding of the film The Science of Sleep.

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Hello Central, Give Me Heaven, Hello Central, Give Me No Man’s Land

March 4, 2008

Hello Central, Give Me Heaven, Hello Central, Give Me No Man’s Land was a collaborative new work that combined video images from the ‘between the wars’ years with audio clips from notorious and anonymous figures of the era, then set to an original musical composition. Original prints and etchings created a panoramic scroll of architecture and gesture.

Click here to view interview.


Bridget Irish at the Tollbooth Interview

March 3, 2008

Continuing the wrap-up of interviews from the first year of the 24 hour outdoor video project the Tollbooth Gallery, here is an interview with artist Bridget Irish. Her Tollbooth Junction 11th & Broadway was a collection of various subway rides the artist took over the past several years, and filmed on Hi-8 video. Featured subway routes, shot when traveling above ground and during the day, included: NYC’s D-Line Brooklyn to Coney Island route and back, Chicago’s downtown loop from the Green Line, and Boston’s Blue Line from downtown to last stop Wonderland. These videos are as much studies in motion, form and light, as they are travel diary excerpts.

Click here for interview.


What Would Udo Do?

February 9, 2008


Wynne Greenwood of Tracy + the Plastics talks about her installation at the Tollbooth Gallery

January 24, 2008

“How do you map a hope, a flower, a muscle, a gaze, a breath, an exhaustion, an attempt, a history, or your community? You are here.” Originally from Washington, then Brooklyn based Wynne Greenwood returned to the Northwest to premiere her piece, Maps to Radical Imagining, specifically created for the Tollbooth.

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Interview with Tim Sullivan about Perfect Entrance

January 23, 2008

Here we are again with the interview series. Perfect Entrance by San Francisco-based artist Tim Sullivan was, at its core, a commentary on the art world’s hyperbole regarding notions of ‘emerging artists’. Sullivan tackles the thin line between comedy and tragedy, impending doom, horror, slapstick, and vulnerability. Sullivan also talks about his then collaboration with George Kuchar to reproduce Chris Burden’s SHOOT piece.

Click here for interview: