City

2011
Jem Cohen, Real Birds

The scene: the industrial neighborhood of Gowanus, Brooklyn.

The players: wind, a flooded road, passersby, and birds...

The time: shortly before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

 

2003
Sample City

With sampled image and sound sequences referring to one another in a precisely calculated rhythmic alternation on four projection surfaces, Călin Dan draws a portrait of the city of Bucharest. Dilapidated tower blocks next to estates of terraced houses, Roma families camping with their horses and carts in the wastelands in the midst of the city, broken streets and new shopping paradises--today the formerly communist Bucharest is a city in upheaval, full of social contradictions and oppositions.

1971
Videofreex, Shirley Clarke and the Camera

Parry Teasdale, David Cort and Chuck Kennedy visit The Kitchen in New York looking for Shirley Clarke, and bump into Steina and Woody Vasulka who are overseeing a show in progress.  A few doors down they find Shirley in her studio, dressed in white and full of energy. 

1974
Show and Tell

"There are three scenes in this work, all reflecting a changing sense of time. Each has a voiceover soundtrack with a similar structure, but with different information. Some of the comments presume that the viewer is privy to information which is never given..."

2010
Shrimp Chicken Fish

An homage to Chicago's East 95th Street Bridge, Calumet Fisheries and to a couple of the city's infamous brothers.  The take-out shack, originally glimpsed in the background of a scene from The Blues Brothers, still operates.  It has become a real-world portal to a cinematic past.  Propped along the edge of the 95th street drawbridge, the building is framed by the towering infrastructures of the Chicago Skyway and Calumet Harbor.

2004
So Much

During my residency in New York I was designing a computer virus, which would contaminate computers through a screensaver that read “there is so much love in this world”. In the meanwhile, inspired by the illusionary democratic representation system in the United States and triggered by the indifference of the New York public to the presidential campaign, I went out to the streets to distribute fliers that carried this virus sentence. People of New York reacted in different ways to this action, which had similarities with many other hand-out actions common in big cities.

1999
Some Chance Operations

Shot in Naples, Vienna, and New York, Some Chance Operations explores the notion of an archival form, in this instance film, as an unstable memory receptacle that can vanish. History and how it is made is meditated upon as one of many chance operations. The filmmaker Elvira Notari, who had a film production company in Naples from 1906 to 1930, plays a significant role as an impetus for Some Chance Operations. Despite the fact that she was a prolific filmmaker, producing over sixty feature films, only three remain intact.

2003
Something More Than Night

1. The idea that a film about a city, a quiet, architectural film no less, can tell us anything that we don’t already know about urban life at this point in our new century is perhaps a bit arrogant. But the city is an organism that changes constantly; our knowledge of it is provisional at best. So a film that examines the urban environment under the cloak of darkness must presume to reveal a reality that we don’t know, and tries to dispel projections and fears that are for the most part located in the imagination... in a memory of film, television, or the novel.

2010
Stardust

Stardust is the second part of the trilogy where Nicolas Provost investigates the boundaries of fiction and reality by filming everyday life with a hidden high resolution camera and turning the cinematic images into a fiction film by using cinematographic and narrative codes from the Hollywood film language. The first part of the trilogy was the award winning Plot Point (2007) that was shot entirely with a hidden camera and turned everyday life around Times Square, New York into a thriller film.

2015
Steve Hates Fish

Filmed directly from the screen of a smartphone using a language translator app that has been told to translate from French into English, Steve Hates Fish interprets the signage and architecture in a busy London shopping street. In an environment overloaded with information, the signs run riot as the confused and restless software does its best to fulfill its task.

1992
Stupa

A one-hour heliocopter flight over the suburban sprawl of Long Island to Fresh Kills, the New York City Landfill on Staten Island; accompanied by an operatic audio-mix of bad-mouth talk-radio mayhem and historic nostalgia.

1986
Sympathetic Vibrations

Twelve church bells are rung daily for 30 days in a sculptural setting at the Capp Street Project in San Francisco. Ringers progress from practice sessions on beer bottles to a full-scale ring.

This piece was shot using a combination of 3/4" U-matic video plus Hi8 video.

This title is also available on Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.

2007
The Theory of Time Here

It is TIME at a street corner in London... A collaboration between filmmaker Roderick Coover and writer Deb Unferth, this short marks the textual disintegration of the speaking clock in an unnerving portrait of technology, power, and the urban environment.

1989
Things I Forget To Tell Myself

A fragmented view of a city provides this poetic examination of disclosing and withholding—what is and isn’t seen, and once it is seen, how is it read?

1988
This is a History of New York

A history of New York City from Prehistoric times through the Space Age, composed entirely from documentary street footage.

"The richness of Cohen's vision is found in his haunting imagery and the perception that the thriving city of New York is really the accumulation of humanity's failures, as well as its triumphs."

-- Steve Seid, Seduced and Abandoned: The Homeless Video by Sachiko Hamada & Scott Sinkler and Jem Cohen (Berkeley: Pacific Film Archive, 1989)