Friday, February 18, 2005


don't touch me; i am electric!

Thank fuck Zach figured out hyperlinks! Dude--these Wire radio shows are fucking great. I've gotta start listening to Resonance on a regular basis again. And WZBC as well, although unfortunately all my friends' shows are during my classes. I can't believe you didn't like El Topo; I must convert you to the cult of Jodorowsky. Perhaps Holy Mountain will do it (I'm probably gonna break down and order the DVD soon). I'm told it's much crazier.

So, I just finished my Teach for America application. Yeah, I know. Shut up. I have no real expectations from the whole thing. I'm thinking of interning at Cambridge Community Television (which is actually more of a co-op sort of thing where I work for a few hours a week and get access to all their facilities in return, but whatever). Nicole had better get a job there so she can be my boss. Invasion of the avant-garde! (Hey, we can get a show where we sit our dumb asses in front of a camera and have endless stoned discussions about whether or not non-narrative film exists! That's community television, right?)

I think I've linked this in an obtuse manner awhile back, but the jahsonic blog is fucking killer. Recent topics: transgressional fiction (including a special post for Dennis Cooper), Drugs (and our right to them), and an entry on this 18th century artist named Piranesi whose stuff is very bizarre (for the time). I dig this jahsonic dude's style, as well--no long winded explanations of what this and that mean to him, just links, pictures, and short descriptive blurbs. And fuck, what taste! The rest of the site is worth investigating as well.

Hot fuck, we've watched some fantastic shit in Avant-Garde, and I'm a jerk for not talking about it. Here's a list, with some notes for the truly exceptional stuff.

Week 1: Introduction to Ways of Seeing and Structural Film

The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes -- Stan Brakhage
This is on the DVD, but it's pretty damn good. I mean, it's Brakhage let loose in an autopsy room. FUN!

Morning, Serene Velocity, and Eureka -- Ernie Gehr
Serene Velocity is intense; basically it examines the zoom lens; starting in the middle, it flicks back and forth* four frames at a time, along all the different settings of the lens, from a fixed camera position looking down a long institutional (i.e. school) hallway. So gradually the difference between alternations gets bigger and bigger. Trippy. Eureka reappropriates a 1905 single-take film shot from the front of a trolley on Market St. in San Francisco, rephotographing it and slowing it way down. A bit tedious--er, excuse me, "meditative"--but interesting.

Remedial Reading Comprehension, What's Wrong With This Picture? and Thank You Jesus for the Eternal Present -- George Landow
Landow's films are sort of hard to describe. It's a weird blend of found footage and optical printing, very focused on making you think about how film is manipulative. It's structural, but not rigid like Gehr's stuff. A bit more organic, with some social commentary instead of sorta dry investigation of the cinema apparatus.

Week 2/3: Hollis Frampton

From the Hapax Legomena cycle (I, II, III, IV, V, VII): Nostalgia, Poetic Justice, Critical Mass, Travelling Matte, Ordinary Matter, Special Effects
Here's a quick bit from Fred Camper, to save myself the trouble. I would add that Nostalgia is a series of photographs placed on a hot plate and burned. The narration corresponds to the next photo to be shown, and is narrated by Michael Snow. Travelling Matte is filmed on video and consists of Frampton holding his hand in front of the lens, letting only a tiny circle of light through. Conceptually interesting, but also really freakin' long. Whatever. Special Effects is great; the only image is a dotted white box on a black background that vibrates around while a sci-fi synthesizer goes batshit on the audio track. It's actually very funny.

Frampton's writing is pretty brilliant as well... seek out "A Pentagram for Conjuring the Narrative" and "A Lecture". Actually, I can email the .pdf to y'all if you want it. A used copy of his book, Circles of Confusion, goes for about, oh, $250 bucks, so short of the library...

Week 4: Diverse Experimental Approaches

Blues, Corn, Fog Line -- Larry Gottheim
A bit like Warhol's stuff, except without people, and in color. Single long takes, observing changes in a bowl of blueberries in cream, some corn, and a foggy landscape.

Highway Landscape, Science Fiction, Print Generation, Sky Blue Water Light Sign -- J. J. Murphy
The others are interesting in their own right, but Print Generation is fucking great; basically Murphy took a one minute diary-ish film composed of one-second shots and had a whole mess of contact prints made, each one from the next, until all the emulsion was essentially gone. Then he structured the film so that it starts out completely abstract, then images slowly reveal themselves, then the loops fade back into abstraction. He used the same process with the sound (a la Alvin Lucier), recording and re-recording ocean noises and playing them unaltered during the abstract parts, then fading into distortion, then returning to regular mimetic sound at the end. I love this process idea, here and in other works, and the whole thing is just a beautiful experience (it's fifty minutes long).

Table Top Dolly [Breakfast] -- Michael Snow
Exactly what the title says: a long table covered with breakfast goods, which the camera dollies in on. As it moves forward, it pushes everything on the table ahead of it, eventually compacting it all at the end of the table. Another brilliantly simple idea--as the camera "eats" breakfast, it also compresses the original space into two dimensions, flattening the image like a photograph. It's creepy to watch all the products dance around on their own as the camera pushes them, as well.

The Lighted Field -- Andrew Noren
Examines light (duh). We didn't get to watch it all.

We watched some great stuff (Pat O'Neill, Bill Brand) this past week as well, but I'm gonna hold off on posting about it.

Boom Bip + Dose One -- Circle
The Soft Pink Truth -- Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth?
Christian Marclay -- djTRIO
Excepter -- KA
Jan Jelinek -- Improvisations and Edits: Tokyo, 09/26/2001
Mouse on Mars -- Radical Connector
Psychic TV -- Themes
DJ Rupture -- Special Gunpowder
Morricone -- L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo
Tarwater -- Silur
Les Georges Leningrad -- Deux Hot Dogs Moutade Chou

* As I typed "back and forth," Dose One said it on the third song of Circle ("Dead Man's Teal") by him and Boom Bip. Life is weird sometimes.
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