* This post is inspired by and borrows liberally from the San Francisco Cinematheque’s current series ‘Perpetual Motion’
‘The concept of performance cinema is still a fairly new and developing genre within media art that brings together experimental approaches to narrative and non-narrative film making, with live music and the performing arts. Rather than screening a traditional, linear edited film, a live cinema performance allows artists the freedom to experiment and improvise within a selection of different material, prepared video clips, audio visual samples or more generative code based plugins that can be run in VJ software such as VDMX. This freedom allows the artist to present their work as a fully live and interactive performance, adding different audio and visual effects to their material on-the-fly. These different feeds of video can be distributed across multiple screens, layered, looped and edited to create immersive, three dimensional works that are very different to a traditional cinema experience.’ — Super Everything
‘Performance Cinema: an exciting and emergent genre of avant-garde moving-image art which represents a crucial attack on the sterility of the contemporary, digitally-located media environment, arguing for the embodied, collective consideration of real-time, site-specific media experiences. Through mis-used or modified analog film projectors, live video synthesis and physical interaction with the media interface, performance cinema practitioners variously burn, etch, mutilate and destroy projected film, machinery and the image itself. Performance Cinema practitioners create immersive spectacles of sight and sound, opening a space for questioning and contemplating visual culture through direct activation of the senses. As a dynamic, regenerating and resurrecting media experience, Performance Cinema exists only in the moment of perception and is truly an art of its time.’ — San Francisco Cinematheque
Michael A. Morris
Nervous Magic Lantern
Jürgen Reble & Thomas Köner Materia Obscura
‘A doorway to the world of dark and unperceivable materials, using Jürgen Rebles 25,000 scans of 16 mm chemograms. A visual expedition into crystalized salts and dyes, showing the bizarre richness and beauty of films materiality. The quadraphonic staging of Materia Obscura expands the performance space, where the horizontal flow of time meets the sonic impulse. Thomas Köners music floats at the borders of perception, as if it is a means of communicating with the beyond.
‘Thomas Köner (DE) and Jürgen Reble (DE) have been working together since 1992 in the fields of film, installation and performance. Thomas Köner studied electronic music and extended his concept of time and sound colour to images, resulting in video installations, photography and net art. The works of film alchemist Jürgen Reble are often rooted in the manual processing of film footage using mechanical and chemical influences.’ — jacquestourneur
Trinchera Ensemble Bis Repetita Placent & Livor Mortis
‘La Trinchera (the Trench) is an ensemble of artists who execute live audio-visual improvisations using analog technology, mainly with 16mm projectors. Operating as an impulse generator and calling out for experimentation in a “free fire zone,” this clash of individual creativity provokes a sense of immediacy with visual situations, to create unique kinetic experience generated through the fusion of image and sound converging in a particular space at a particular time. Since 2004, La Trinchera has taken its expanded cinema performances around the world including to the Museums Quartier and the Essl Museum, Vienna; the Engelman-Ost Collection, Uruguay; the CCEBA, Argentina; the 8th Festival des Cinémas Différents de Paris; the Laboratorio de Arte Alameda and the Museo de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City; FLEXfest, Gainsville FL; and Antimatter Media Art Festival, Canada.’ — SF Cinematheque
((arc)) lost sight & tetradic moons
‘arc refers to a process rather than an author. a curvature within a void which makes something momentarily visible. a form through which something moves but within which it neither originates nor terminates, nor is contained. in this process, material elements are used to investigate immaterial states. framing the space of encounter as a site of unfixed ritual and sensory research—the cinema, gallery, studio, home, stairwell, street, etc. countless iterations of the the open field or the enclosure. a coded and symbolic language is used to trace lines between seemingly disparate paths of knowledge held in recurrent forms, manifesting in oscillating relationships between microcosm and macrocosm. arc is initiated by tooth.’ — SF Cinematheque
Scott Arford Beware of the Image
‘This is an expansion and re-visioning of audio/video noise performances that I made between 1995-1999, many of which were presented at the Lab. The political/cultural context of current San Francisco feels hauntingly similar to the period when these were made. At that time, the Dot Com boom was in full swing, carrying with it in equal parts, a dystopian dread and a techno-utopian optimism. Google was just one of many competing search engines, a generation of tech workers were making their first fortunes, emerging technologies promised to empower us as individuals. At the same time, artist warehouses and art spaces were struggling to survive – many lost their leases to skyrocketing rents and venture capital funded startups. Long-standing communities suffered, and small businesses were forced out. The emotions and struggles from this period are being replayed now in a frighteningly similar fashion, the sites of this struggle are the same. This work comes from that uncertain moment.
‘For me, the work is particularly important because it expands upon an experiment that was never truly completed. Flickering and strobing linear analog video, radio noise and TV static…. I don’t know what to call it, but it was raw and unfiltered. Searing but beautiful, like staring at the sun. With the technological revolution, video and audio became digital, non-linear. Resolutions expanded, screens flattened, effects became slicker, and the cathode ray tube disappeared. Everything became, well… focused. And with that a particular type of expression vanished. I want to bring this work to a new generation of San Franciscans, struggling with moral, ethical, financial, and practical decisions that affect our city, its future, and the technological narratives now being written.’ — Scott Arford
Michael A. Morris Second Hermeneutic & Third Hermeneutic
‘Second Hermeneutic is the second in a series of works that explore the nature of interpretation. In this case, a pair of 16mm projections are overlapped while being captured by an HD video camera. The analog component signal is fed into an audio mixer without any further filtering. All audio in the piece is produced by the camera’s output. The video waveform is manipulated by the film projection to produce a real-time, synaesthetic cinematic experience using the artifacts of one medium interpreting another as raw material.
‘Third Hermeneutic is the third work in the continuing series of expanded cinema performances exploring the hermeneutical process as it might be applied to cinema and technology. In this entry, the text-based filmic image is overlaid with a digital video projection that is controlled by custom software. The hybrid moving image is re-interpreted by the computer to control immersive audio synthesis. The viewer is questioned about her relationship to history, meaning-making, and cinematic experience.’ — Michael Morris
Le Révélateur Fakeaway Haptics (excerpt) & Mirages
‘Le Révélateur started in 2008 as a solo venture for Montreal-based electronic musician Roger Tellier-Craig. It has since then expanded into an audio-visual duo with the inclusion of video artist Sabrina Ratté in 2010. Together they explore a common fascination for the combination of electronic image and sound, using a varying array of digital and analogue technologies. They have performed extensively in Europe and North America, presenting their work at Museu Serralves in Porto, RIXC Festival in Riga, the Lampo series in Chicago, Resonate Festival in Belgrade, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Digital Quebec (Mutek/Elektra) in London, Sonic Acts in Amsterdam, Pop Montreal, Sight+Sound in Montreal, Send+Receive in Winnipeg, Micro Mutek in Barcelona, Mutek.Mx in Mexico, Mutek in Montreal, On Land in San Francisco, as well as touring through Europe with Black To Comm and No UFO’s in April/May 2015. They have also shared bills with Ben Frost, Robert A. A. Lowe, Pete Swanson, Caterina Barbieri, Pulse Emitter, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Steve Hauschildt, Forma, Xela, Ricardo Donoso, Oneohtrix Point Never, Greg Davis, Hair Police and many more.’ –LR
Nervous Magic Lantern (Ken Jacobs & Aki Onda) 2007
‘Ken Jacobs has long been a restless innovator, and his rebellious projection performance apparatus known as the Nervous Magic Lantern is a development that would not have been out of place in the pre-cinematic era of prestidigitation and exotic attractions. Working without film or electronics, the Nervous Magic Lantern uses lightweight fans and an exterior spinning shutter – along with the hands and creative mind of an active projectionist – to fill the screen with moving 3D forms that can be seen from every possible angle, no special glasses required. A breathtaking and all-around mystifying head/body experience, Jacobs surmises that, “It’s the cinema that should’ve happened following live shadow play.” After years of committed research and development, it is clearer than ever before that Jacobs’s Nervous Magic Lantern is a direct outgrowth from his early training in the 1950s with abstraction pioneer Hans Hofmann. In a sense, this latest body of work is as much a return to painting as it is another step deeper than ever before into the depths of the moving image.’ — NML
Kent Long The Pass
‘Kent Long is a filmmaker/musician based in San Francisco. His film practice is deeply involved with creating evocative and uncanny perceptual spaces and investigating the physical material of 16mm film. Additionally, he combines live music with 16mm film to create layered and evocative compositions in collaboration with hand-processing Midnight Guru Vanessa O’Neill, under the moniker of BEIGE. He works as Technical Director and adjunct faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute, and frequently curates experimental film programs throughout the Bay Area. He holds his BFA in Film Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his MFA in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute.’ –jkl
Karl Lemieux + BJ Nilsen Yujiapu (excerpt)
‘Karl Lemieux’s (CA) films, installations, and performances have screened internationally in museums, galleries, music venues and film festivals. He is more commonly known as the ninth member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a Montreal music collective for which he does live 16mm film projections. His collaborations include works with sound artists such as Philip Jeck, BJ Nilsen, Francisco Lopez, Roger Tellier-Craig and Alexandre St-Onges. Together with Daïchi Saïto he founded Double Négatif, a Montreal-based collective, dedicated to the production and dissemination of experimental films.
‘BJ Nilsen (SE) is a Swedish composer and sound artist based in Berlin and London. His work is primarily focused on the sounds of nature and how they affect humans. His two latest solo albums, released by Touch, Eye Of The Microphone (2013) – based on the sound of London – and The Invisible City (2010), explore the urban acoustic realm. He has collaborated with Chris Watson on Storm and Wind, also released by Touch (2006, 2001). His original scores and soundtracks have featured in theatre and dance performances and film, including Microtopia and Test Site (2013, 2010, dir. Jesper Wachtmeister), Enter the Void (2010, dir. Gaspar Noé), and, in collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson, I Am Gere (2014, dir. Anders Morgenthaler).’ — Sonic Acts
Kerry Laitala Electric Salome & Afterimage (excerpt)
‘Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences past and present culture. She considers this type of approach to making art a type of media archeology. Laitala’s work resides at the crossroads of science, history, and technology, and her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief manifests through an array of media including films, videos, installations, photographic works, performances and kinetic sculpture. She studied Photography and Film at Massachusetts College of Art and received her Masters degree in Film from the San Francisco Art Institute.’ — KL
Raha Raissnia Free Way
‘Tehran-born, Brooklyn-based artist Raha Raissnia works in film, painting, and drawing, with each medium informing the other. Her film works are the result of an iterative approach: footage shot on Super-8, 16mm, digital, and even mobile phone is manipulated in the studio; Raissnia projects the footage onto paintings and screens, integrating found materials and additional film and digital imagery, and refilms the whole to yield densely layered celluloid films. These films, in turn, are often screened superimposed with handmade slides or fashioned into film loops that Raissnia manually manipulates on projectors, which take on the role of instruments. One recent body of work, derived from video recordings of East Harlem street scenes, oscillates between keenly observed portraits, by turn stoic and vibrant, and the sublime nature abstracted images achieve through texture and rhythm.’ — MoMA
Malic Amalya Towards the Death of Cinema (excerpt)
‘Accompanied by a live synthesizer score, projected 16mm film melt and burn from the heat of a film projector. Cutting off the sprocket holes located on the edge of the film frames, the projector’s forward momentum is bypassed. In the path of the bulb for longer than 1/24th of a second, the film warps, smokes, and bursts.
‘Individual film frames document cycles of destruction, resilience, and transformation within the Bay Area. Shots include the abandoned Parkway Theater in Oakland, closed in 2009; filmmaker Mary Helena Clark in her Berkeley studio; the Black Hole Cinematheque in Oakland, founded by Tooth; historical images of the 1906 San Francisco fire; pool tides in the remaining structure of the Sutro Baths, first built in 1896 and knocked down by arson in 1966; and the dormant Woodminster amphitheater, built in the late 1930’s under Roosevelt’s New Deal project.
‘If, as Paulo Cherchi Usai argues, “cinema is the art of destroying moving images,”* Towards the Death of Cinema expedites this inherent process of destruction for the viewing audience to witness in real time.’ — MA
Sally Golding Spirit Intercourse & An Other Face: Spell for Living and Dying
‘Spirit Intercourse: Composed with light sensitive audio devices, handmade synthesizers, a voice sampler, and a contact microphone on a 16mm projector, the audio recording surmises moments experienced during the live performance of expanded cinema. The visual track mimics and interferes with these ideas – toy lights, torch and strobe lights shine directly into the lens of a smartphone camera to interrupt the video frame rate, making visible the shutter as system detritus. The vocals give the title to the track – abstracted from the pages and spines of dusty tomes referencing the Victorian Spiritualist movement.
‘An Other Face: In autoscopic hallucination, one sees one’s self as an external object, which can lead to the delusion that one has a double. In folklore and literature, the double (or doppelganger) is a symbolic embodiment of a troubled self or a phantom, and is a means of examining one’s own existence – be it as alive or dead. However, in the everyday, autoscopic hallucination is a form of dangerous disorientation. Previously, Golding has addressed autoscopic hallucination by projecting images onto her own body while exploring a variety of optical functions, such as reflection and refraction. In An Other Face, she projects onto the spectator, making them a screen – an integral component of the work. Such reorganisation of cinematic elements into installation form redesigns the cinematic viewing experience, exposing the typically locked process of beam-audience-screen.’ — OtherFilm
Lee Hangjun + Hong Chulki Cracked Share
‘It is in the spirit of an experience and experiment that Hang Jun Lee’s «The Cracked Share» must be viewed. Seized in moments of visual detachment during periods of emotional contact, these images are oxidized residues of fixed light and chemical elements of transformed from living organisms. No plastic expression can ever be more than a residue of the experience and yet, the residue is the recognition of the experience, loss permeates the work and yet somehow the experience endures, recalling the event more or less clearly, like the undisturbed ashes of an object consumed by flames. The recognition of this object, so little representative and so fragile, speaks to us of this artist’s isolation. «The Cracked Share» is quite wonderfully dense and visceral in nature … it looks as though the work has been doubly manipulated organically and digitally, yet the work still retain its organic nature through its alchemical orientation…the sense of visual rhythm is well paced and the appropriated footage of the Astronauts / Pornographic actor /Horse in “The Cracked Share” is wonderfully imaginative and fluid…an ocular alkahest’ — Carl E. Brown, Visual alchemy 2008
‘Film is disintegrated by various urea by strong oxidizing chemical agents. The compound (usually, we call it that is film emulsion) resolves itself into its elements. Swingback to isolationism, unconcealment the film material itself…….Film is just a tensile strength between emulsion and base. I found new laws of particle motion investigating condition its physical chemistry attribute. I reworked image by various chemical that sodium & potassium is included and adjustment of hydrogen ion concentration is available. Work that is oxidized again silver particles that is gotten restored through film developer in darkroom….do me to reach in new state. I began to examine…about that experience talks to me at the point justly. Title of this work is inspired from Georges Bataille “Accursed share”‘ — Hangjun LEE
Bruce McClure Build my Gallows High
‘Bruce McClure’s immersive 16mm projector performances use the phenomena of visual flicker and its sonic equivalents to create an experience of ecstatic reverie. Polyrhythmic light and sound signals generated by flickering film loops are intricately coaxed through retrofitted projectors and thrown against a wall of high intensity strobe light tuned with multiple guitar effects pedals. Robert Smithson’s 1971 proposal for a truly underground ‘cinema cavern’ for an audience seated on boulders was the starting point for yet another intrepid cave exploration. The work was presented in two parts: ‘A Cinematic Atopia – The Process of its Construction’ was a day long installation that divided the Level 1 space at BALTIC into two viewing chambers; and ‘Build my Gallows High’ was the ensuing evening performance.’ — AV Festival
Greg Pope Moon Walk & Shadow Trap
‘After dabbling in punk rock bands and absurdist performance, Greg Pope founded Brighton-based Super 8 film collective Situation Cinema in 1986 and afterwards Loophole Cinema (London, 1989). Using 16mm, Super 8 and video, Loophole Cinema were self-styled shadow engineers performing numerous events around Europe. They produced The International Symposium of Shadows in London in 1996.
‘Working collaboratively and individually, Pope has made video installations, live art pieces and single screen film works since 1996. Recent works include live cinema performance pieces Light Trap and Cipher Screen as well as 35mm film productions Shadow Trap and Shot Film. He currently lives in Norway and is active teaching, projecting, programming and making film.’ — BRUTALSFX
p.s. Hey. Dazed & Confused did a piece about ‘Zac’s Freight Elevator’ and interviewed me about it, and it’s pretty good if you want to see/read it. Here. ** Jamie, Jamieca! Did that one even work? Yes, I’ve long been very proud of the fact that my name spelled backwards is sinned. I’ve often wondered if that is the key to the answer to the question of who I am or something. Not really, but for fun. Scissors are cool! I am actually going to see if I can make a post about scissors. You’re good with them? Bravo. I don’t think I am, but they say that genius is in the mistakes, right? Well, then, it’s a done deal. I’m taking you to those parks. It’s settled. You just have to do your part and get over here sometime. Nothing to fear about Disney rides. They’re deliberately unscary. Looking for a roller coaster at a Disney park is a needle in a haystack kind of thing. I like that about them. Asterix has a combo of non-scare stuff and coasters. Anyway, blah blah, it’s mostly about being those places in general anyway. It’s the overall effect really. Well, we got funding from this area of France called Bas Normandie. Each region of France has funding for films that you can apply for, and we won theirs. That means we have to shoot most of the film there and try to hire workers from there too if we can. It’s about two hours from Paris on the sea. Should work. We can probably shoot some of the interiors in Paris if we want to. But lot of the film takes place outdoors. Yeah, the swimming thing. I like it when slave posts have a punch line. I don’t know Cacio e pepe off the top of my head, but I’ll investigate. I love pasta like all sane humans do. Have a good day. What’s up? It’s freezing cold here, which I love. I need to bundle up, though. Love bundled up, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D. I love that combo of recently being castrated and not being into guys who wear glasses. It seems kind of surrealist. Ah, I had heard that Jarmusch was making a film about a poet. I’m very, very interested to see that. I like that idea. Nice. ** Jonathan, Buddy. Christmas beers is an interesting concept. Is there something about the beers that has something to do with Xmas? Are they packaged in a Xmas-y way, or are they, like, tinted red or … I don’t know. I did like the mix! Today I’m going to spread what I learned from it hopefully in the direction of, like, Soundcloud and stuff to beef up my knowledge of the music makers. Cool, thank you! The blueberry inflation thing was totally new to me. I’ve been meaning to see if it’s a widespread fetish and what it is exactly, and I will. It’s cold here. It’s nice. No snow or anything, but the sidewalks were frozen and slippery last night. Bonner even day to you, sir! ** Steevee, Hi. No, I don’t know those Christian sites. Huh, interesting and seemingly kind of gross. I will investigate. I should know about them. Thank you. Cahiers du Cinema’s top ten list was quite odd last year too, if I’m remembering correctly. Something weird is going on over there. Picking ‘The Neon Demon’ seems like a Trump-like move or something. ‘Jackie’ is that bad, huh? Yeah, I was just reading yesterday that it’s one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, and I thought, Huh? As is ‘Moonlight’ which the people I know who’ve seen it think is incredibly overrated. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! I liked the apartment, actually. It’s pretty big for its price and kind of eccentric. I think I’ll try to get it. Renting an apartment in Paris when you’re not a legal resident and your bank is in the USA and you don’t earn money via normal kind of job can be a real hassle. Some landlords are willing to deal with the hassle, and some aren’t. We’ll see. So your final-final exam is finally set. So then it’ll all be over and you’ll be a free or ‘free’ person in the world. January 11th, the day after my birthday. Maybe that’s good luck. I’m glad you sound confident. You should be. Will you have to prepare in any kind of heavy, time-consuming way for the exam? Your present-in-progress sounds exciting indeed. Yesterday was again kind of uneventful. Today I think I’ll see Zac, which will be great, and I’m going to meet with a young student who’s doing his thesis partly about ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’, so that’ll be interesting. And, um, whatever else shows up, I guess. How was your Thursday? Is it really cold there? It’s really cold here. ** Nemo, Hi, J. Really? The themes are always self-generating. But it’s interesting if the interesting profiles fall into type categories by accident. I didn’t turn them into art. I just xeroxed them using an artsy filter. No, I did NYC pretty thoroughly recently, so I don’t think I’ll be back there for a while, but you never know. Gosh, I have no clue which one were into. The castrated guy? Ha ha. ** Sypha, Hi. Well, you say, ‘Put on your diapers RIGHT NOW, young man!’ The genre that Clive works in is not a genre I know well at all and hardly at all, really, but it seems like it has that ‘big book’ = important pressure too, no? Aren’t, like, Stephen King’s big books like ‘It’ and so-on the ones everybody take most seriously? 400 pages is almost petit. Relatively speaking. Thank you in advance for the card. And very much for the post! My new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I really look forward to it. ** Misanthrope, Hi. I had two very bad acid freak outs, but both of them happened out in nature luckily. Trees and dirt can be scary but not that scary. I like hanging coasters too. Nowadays they’re upgrading a lot of the wooden coasters and putting advanced steel tracks on them so you get smoothness and the old school thrills at the same time. I like WCW, yes. For sure. ** Morgan M Page, Hi! FreshLinen, which one was he? Hold on. Oh, yeah. I agree. He’s a renaissance slave. A barrel of varying fun. I like TheWastedMe too. I hear you. Thanks about the slave posts. You get them in the precisely the way I hope they will be gotten, so that’s heartening to hear. Yes, photoshoot-looking pics are increasingly taking over, especially in the escort realm but even amongst the slaves and masters. There is push-back in their commentaries, but not nearly as much as you would think. I tried to develop this theory that the slaves were doing that to try to piss off the masters and get their sadistic juices going, but I decided that I was overthinking them, as I do. Thanks for the apartment stuff good luck. I need it, but hopefully not for long. ** Bill, Hi. Oh, so there’s my stab at covering Performance Cinema from afar. I’m sorry to hear that you’re ensconced in overwork. May your Xmas break arrive soon and without strings attached or NSA as the slaves say. ** Damien Ark, Hi, Damien. I think the guy wearing that silver metal mask would be very proud to think he had given people nightmares. 2/3 complete is very, very good! Congrats! Yeah, you should write the book you want to write. If it ends up before some editor or agent who likes it but thinks it should be trimmed, you can decide if that’s something you want to do then. Yes, Zac’s and my new film is green-lit! We have enough money raised to shoot it. I’m very, very excited. Hm, I don’t know if it’ll be ‘God Jr.’-like. Zac directs our films, so his visualization is what makes the films have whatever quality they do. But despite the bleakness of the premise and story, it is pretty amusing, at least in a tinkly sort of way. Oh, uh, no plans at the moment to do a post about the ‘ZFE’ event, but it’ll depend on if and when the New Museum makes the video they shot of it public. I’m actually talking with them about that today. Thanks, man. Stuff’s good here, yep, and hopefully in your neck of the earth too. ** Okay. I’ve gotten excited and intrigued by this newish genre Performnance Cinema, which seems to be an international thing with maybe San Francisco as a particular hot bed. So I made that post up there as a way to investigate the work and familiarize myself with it at least initially. See if you’re drawn in like I’ve been. And see you tomorrow.