Literature

2005
Coréen 2495

In 1993 President Mitterrand visited Korea. On this visit Mitterrand promised that he would restore to Korea the 297 volumes of the Oe-Kyujanggak Archives (the royal protocols of Chosun Dynasty in Korea), pillaged by the French army in 1866 and now part of the collections in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France). As a sign of intent, he assured the interested parties that a two-volume book, the Hyikyungwon-Wonsodogam-Uigwe, would be immediately returned.

1983
Damnation of Faust: Evocation

Using “found” imagery shot in a SoHo playground, the first part of the Damnation of Faust trilogy explores the possible relations between childhood play and a woman looking on from outside. Without dialogue, the gestures of the characters become their primary mode of communication. Visual motifs of pillars and fans, achieved through video wipes, plunge the viewer into the image while building parallels of movement and feeling.

1985
Damnation of Faust: Will-o'-the-Wisp (A Deceitful Goal)

The second part of the Damnation of Faust Trilogy centers on the development of Marguerite, the female character in the Faust legend. Masterfully composing fragmentary "memory" images in elegant 19th Century Japanese compositions, Birnbaum traces the process of deception and abandonment through the heroine’s mournful description of her state of mind. Passing images are suffused with light, obscured in a blinding brightness, to suggest forgetting.

1998
Dark Cave

“His heart was a dark cave filled with sharp toothed, fierce clawed beasts that ran snapping and tearing through his blood. In pain he left the work table and prowled around the room, singing to himself, ‘Who can I be tonight? Who will I be tonight?’”

—Alfred Chester, Exquisite Corpse (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967)

1993
Darling Child

“But we are alone, darling child, terribly, isolated each from the other; so fierce is the world’s ridicule we cannot speak or show our tenderness; for us death is stronger than life, it pulls like a wind through the dark, all our cries burlesqued in joyless laughter; and with the garbage of loneliness stuffed down us until our guts burst bleeding green, we go screaming round the world, dying in our rented rooms, nightmare hotels, eternal homes of the transient heart.”

—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms (New York: Random House, 1948)

1984
Double Lunar Dogs

Based on Robert Heinlein’s 1941 story “Universe,” Double Lunar Dogs presents a vision of post-apocalyptic survival aboard a “spacecraft,” travelling aimlessly through the universe, whose passengers have forgotten the purpose of their mission. As a metaphor for the nature and purpose of memory, the two main characters (portrayed by Jonas and Spalding Gray) play games with images of their past; but their efforts to restore their collective memories are futile, and they are reprimanded by the “Authority” for their attempts to recapture their past on a now-destroyed planet Earth.

2018
The Drunkard's Lament, Jim Finn

An epistolary, musical reimagining of Wuthering Heights by Branwell Brontë — the tubercular, alcoholic and opium-addicted brother of Emily Brontë. When Branwell — the ne’er-do-well, tubercular brother of the Brontë sisters — discovered that Emily was writing her first novel, he offered to be her editor. Once he realized that he was the model for the alcoholic Hindley Earnshaw character, he reimagined the story as a musical memoir of his own life with Hindley as the hero.

2000
EIGHT (Roland Barthes)

”But I—already an object, I do not struggle.”

—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida:Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981)

This title is also available on Third Known Nest by Tom Kalin.

2009
The Elektra/Vampyr Variations

A fantasia that makes twisted use of elements from the Elektra myth and vampire stories. Imagine a woman listening to Richard Strauss's Elektra while watching Carl Dryer's Vampyr and the dream she might then have that night. The protagonist imagines herself as Elektra. She has an unhealthy obsession over her dead father Agamemnon. She also passionately despises her mother Clytemnestra, as she is the one who murdered her father. Elektra exhumes the ax used to kill her father in his bath.

2009

Endless Dreams and Water Between is a feature film with four fictitious characters sustaining an epistolary exchange in which their “planetary thought” is woven with the physical locations they inhabit, visual and aural characters in themselves: the island of Manhattan, the island of Majorca, in Spain, and the islands and peninsula that form the San Francisco Bay Area. The characters’ reflections and dreams enact what could be described as “an archipelagic mind,” linking worlds, time, and space.

2002
Every Evening Freedom

"Like any other great city, this one offered its populace more than merely every evening freedom. It offered a variety of slaveries to which the freedom might be put. This was necessary, Goliath knew, because he who has given away his soul between nine and five cannot usually bear to face it (or does not know where to find it) between five and nine. The city offered distractions, glorious dreams.

2005
Every Wandering Cloud

Every Wandering Cloud is the first installment in a series of experimental videos inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde. Interweaving text from Wilde's "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" with hand-drawn animation derived from Eadweard Muybridge's Human and Animal Location, Every Wandering Cloud is a meditation on themes of freedom and imprisonment. The video juxtaposes an eclectic array of archival and contemporary imagery, including documentary footage and original Super-8 and digital video.

2004
Excerpts from Behold Goliath

In Excerpts from Behold Goliath, Tom Kalin presents four experimental short films inspired by American writer Alfred Chester (1928-71), who in 1964 published a collection of short stories of the same name. Each of Kalin's films, Some Desperate Crime on My Head (2003), The Robots of Sodom (2002), Every Evening Freedom (2002), and Salad Days (2004), devotedly exploits Chester's words with computer voice-synthesizers, and juxtaposes them with music, film and hand-drawn images.

2009
Excess

A rumination via handwritten index cards and an assortment of images recalling histories and ambitions of varied film productions.

2017
Frédéric Moffet "Fever Freaks"

A detective is hired to find the original copy of a lost ancient book. The book recounts the tale of a plague. A form of radiation, unknown at the present time, activates a virus. The virus affects the sexual and fear centers in the brain and nervous system; fear is converted into sexual frenzies which are reconverted back into fear, the feedback leading in many cases to a fatal conclusion.