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Edward Rankus

1979 00:29:40 United StatesEnglishColorStereo4:3Video


“Mining an ironic vein by turning technology against itself, AlienNATION undercuts the sociological ramifications of modern living. It is an astounding compendium of sci-fi images, textbook diagrams, special effects, and studio props, which together build multiple readings of the alien, the mysterious, and the obscure in American culture. From spaceships to tinker toys, porno pin-ups to modern office furniture, AlienNATION uses expert editing and a wonderfully kitsch soundtrack to examine the dizzying effect of ‘the future’ on mankind, including the pressure toward corporate conformity placed upon the average worker adrift in the workplace of tomorrow. Rats and laboratory mice figure throughout the video, walking on monitors and spinning on turntables, perhaps functioning as stand-ins for humans caught in the Space/rat race. What characterizes this particular video process (or ‘experimental’ total flow) is a ceaseless rotation of elements that change at every moment, with the result that no single element can occupy the position of ‘interpretant’ (or that of primary sign) for any length of time, but must be dislodged in the following instant, where it will be ‘interpreted’ or narrativized by a radically different kind of logo or image altogether.

—Fredric Jameson, “Surrealism Without the Unconscious” in Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991)

This title is also available on Ed Rankus Videoworks: Volume 1.

About Edward Rankus

Edward Rankus is an independent video artist whose work references the symbolic systems of science-fiction films, behavioral psychology experiments, sub-atomic particle physics, Spanish mysticism, and Zen Buddhism. Concerned with the hazy borderline between inner and outer worlds, his work invokes a surrealist/expressionist aesthetic. As a student of Dan Sandin and the late Phil Morton, Rankus is part of the second generation of Chicago video artists whose approach to video differed from their more process-oriented teachers. Rankus's work is masterfully edited and deeply ironic, and he is able to wring drama from mundane subjects. The play of symbols is very important in Rankus's work, which in some ways approaches still-life painting in its juxtapositioning of essential elements to create moods and meanings. Rankus layers various cultural symbols and builds on viewer expectations to question the arbitrary conventional boundaries of "reality" and "self."

"These tapes visually investigate perennial themes of impermanence, the disillusion and mortality of one's body--often using simple objects as stand-ins for that body."
--Ed Rankus