Philosophy

In this interview, American filmmaker, teacher, and video artist Peggy Ahwesh (b.1954) delves into the key figures and primary texts that have inspired her work in Super-8 and video since the 1970s.  She discusses her early influences as a member of the underground art scenes in Pittsburgh in the late 70s and Soho’s Kitchen in the 80s. Ahwesh’s experimental hand-processing and controversial subject matter can be traced to feminist theory, and her exposure to underground experimental films, including works by Werner Herzog, George Amaro, Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith and her teacher at Antioch College, Tony Conrad.

The horizon, where the sky and the earth meet, is always elsewhere, a promised place where these two elements come together. A metaphor, an orienting, a promise of transition, change, transcendence. A place where the corporeal and spiritual meet, or are cleaved apart.

Photographer, theorist, and lecturer Victor Burgin lives and works in London. A Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and former Professor Emeritus of the History of Consciousness at University of California-Santa Cruz, Burgin’s work explores the semiotics of meaning in visual art. His books include The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity (1986), In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture (1996) and, as editor, Thinking Photography (1986), Between (1986) and Formations of Fantasy (1986).

... In the serene zone between twilight and dawn, a lullaby of thoughts floats beneath a blanket of stars.

Little Radek, the step-dancing Bolshevik; Machera, the Andean Robin Hood, and Maria Spiridonova, the Russian socialist assassin are your guides for Past Leftist Life Regression therapy. In this third Inner Trotsky Child video, narrator Lois Severin— a former Trotskyite turned suburban housewife—attempts to radicalize the personal fulfillment and self-help scene.

Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 is a re-imagining of scenes from filmmaker Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer punk film Jubilee, starring Susanne Sachsse and Cassils. Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 follows author Ayn Rand (Susanne Sachsse) and members of her Collective, including economist Alan Greenspan, on an acid trip in 1955. Guided by an artificial intelligence named Azuma, they are transported to a dystopian future Silicon Valley.

Distracted Blueberry follows a performance art band through a series of poetic encounters. Masculine tropes are undone to form a relationship between male sexuality and the human death drive. The body, violence and humour are positioned in the larger context of nothingness and somethingness, bridging a tension between externalized anxieties and the terrors of nature. Evocative of inner emotional states, strange landscapes exist as reflections of our shared dreams and nightmares.

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In this interview, political and social theorist, Terry Eagleton (b. 1943), shares stories of his Irish upbringing and British education, and sums up his current engagement with art theory, leftist politics, and spirituality under capitalism. With reference to Henry James, Frederic Jameson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, among others, this interview spans a vast landscape of literature and social theory.

The fourth collaboration between Jessie Mott and Steve Reinke continues its melancholic musings on desire and mourning, this time with more twerking. Hypnotic backgrounds and eccentric animals lend to its psychedelic children's cartoon vibe, and the signature Madonna and Stockhausen soundtrack enhances the desperation for paradise among those extra long tongues and snake-y bodies.

An ordinary living room with a green screen, TV, and domestic cat serves as the backdrop for this DIY introduction to experimental philosophy. The president of a company is considering a vice president's moneymaking scheme. He says, "Look, I know this program will harm the environment, but I don't care at all about that. All I care about is maximizing profits. So let's start the program." The company adopts the policy, and sure enough, the environment is harmed. Now consider a seemingly straightforward question: Did the chairman of the board harm the environment intentionally?

Is Miley more or less happy than June Cleaver? Given very fragmentary information about the lives of two stereotypical figures with identical emotional states, people tend to give strangely asymmetrical evaluations of the two characters' propensity for happiness and unhappiness. An illustration of a controversial study called "The Ordinary Concept of Happiness (and Others Like It)".

An intrepid academic travels the world, asking people if it is OK for someone to stab a friend in order to test the sharpness of a knife. If one person says it's OK and another says it's not OK, can both respondents be right? This video is an illustration of a multi-layered experiment designed to test the claims of several traditional philosophers that non-experts (folk) tend to hold rigidly absolutist views of morality.

In The Jungle playfully and sorrowfully tells the tale of an unreliable narrator in a self-imposed exile. Given a grant to study the equivalent of animal cries and whines in jungle flora our heroine has lived for 1,612 days deep in an unnamed jungle. This jungle serves as an extended metaphor for excessive and continual growth and death and fear and sustenance; a metaphorical space of chaos in which the scientist finds solace and which stands in contrast to the human jungle of 'civilization'.

Timely concerns about the future of video, artists’ complicity in the money making system of the ‘establishment,’ and the effect of the camera’s presence on personal encounters, is discussed and debated in this late night video produced by David Cort, Chuck Kennedy, and Skip Blumberg.

A philosopher and intermedia artist, Adrian Piper focuses on xenophobia, racism, and racial stereotyping

“As a black woman who can 'pass' and a Professor of Philosophy who leads a double life as an avant-garde artist, Piper has understandably focused on self-analysis and social boundaries. Over the years her work in performance, texts, newspaper, unannounced street events, videos, and photographs has developed an increasingly politicized and universalized image of what the self can mean.”

Rapport, 2007

Shot during an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) seminar in Berlin, a group fluxuates between guided meditation and discussion on consciousness and self-acceptance. Neuro-linguistic programming is a set of techniques and beliefs that are used primarily towards personal development. NLP is based on the idea that mind, body, and language create an individual's perception of the world, and an individuals behaviors can be changed by "perceiving and feeling yourself". Rapport focuses on the staging of the self that takes place during this kind of group therapy.

46+ years after Debord wrote "...the heart of the unrealism of the real society...," a nine-year-old child is instructed to repeatedly recite thesis #6 from The Society of the Spectacle. The recitations are re-mixed at one-second intervals forming a fragmented, discursive, strangely optimistic and melancholic chant. Additional audio is provided by the child's playing a Call of Duty: Back OPS game.

You Were an Amazement on the Day You Were Born is a visually stunning work that follows a woman through a life characterized by damage and loss, but in which she finds humor, love, and joy. With a score that follows the span of Lenore’s life, from her birth in the early 70s to her death in the 2040s, the film takes us from moments of harrowing loss to those of poignancy and dark humor.

The movement’s founder Lois Severin, a former Trotskyite turned suburban housewife, was responding to the move from mass sociopolitical engagement of the 1960s and '70s to the personal fulfillment fantasies of the 80’s—the Jane Fonda­ization of the Left. While right­wing activists prepared the ground for the Reagan Revolution, the Inner Trotsky Child movement was an attempt to radicalize the personal fulfillment and self­-help scene and prepare the ground for a 21st Century revolution of the mind.