Pixelvision

Gibbons plays the sleazy Director and lampoons the movie audition and its legendary corollary, the casting couch. Barbie is recast, not as the impossible-to-attain ideal beauty, but as the victim of sexual harrassment and exploitation.

This title is also available on Joe Gibbons Videoworks: Volume 1.

Shot primarily in Fisher-Price pixelvision, for the “murky look of memory," Coal Miner’s Granddaughter is a profoundly moving family portrait focusing on the youngest daughter Jane, as she leaves her Pennsylvania home and finds sexual independence in San Francisco. This semi-autobiographical narrative is remarkable for Dougherty’s unconventional approach: working with non-professional, plain-looking actors and improvised dialogue to recreate the life of the “average” family, and women who are “Plain Janes with big desires.”

Elegy, 1991

It’s the first day of autumn, and Gibbons can already smell death in the air. Leading us and his dog Woody on a walk through a cemetery, Gibbons voices his obsessive thoughts of death and destruction saying, “I want to be a leaf; I want to fall from a great height and crush whatever I land on.” Waxing weirdly philosophical, Gibbons satirically tries to impress the concept of mortality on his dog; the video, shot in Pixelvision, approximates his dog’s black-and-white vision.

In Final Exit, an aged one is confronted with his options in blunt terms. Does he want to drag out his existence, increasingly infirm and a burden to his caretakers, or go quietly before resentment overwhelms sentiment? Does he wish to go on living, the quality of his life increasingly diminishing, or be euthanized? Would he prefer cremation or burial? This video confronts the issues of mortality and advancing decrepitude that faces even the friskiest.

Flat is Beautiful is an experimental live-action cartoon using masks, animation, subtitles, drawings, and dramatic scenes to investigate the psychic life of an androgynous eleven-year-old girl. Growing up in a working class neighborhood with her single mother and gay roommate, Taylor confronts the loneliness of living between masculine and feminine in a culture obsessed with defining gender difference. Shifting between black and white film and grainy pixelvision video, Flat is Beautiful explores the internal and external worlds of sad people.

Set to music by Bikini Kill (an all-girl band from Washington), Sadie Benning's Girl Power is a raucous vision of what it means to be a radical girl in the 1990s. Benning relates her personal rebellion against school, family, and female stereotypes as a story of personal freedom, telling how she used to model like Matt Dillon and skip school to have adventures alone. Informed by the underground “riot grrrl” movement, this tape transforms the image politics of female youth, rejecting traditional passivity and polite compliance in favor of radical independence and a self-determined sexual identity.

Glass Jaw, 1991

In this impressionistic piece, O’Reilly provides a gripping portrait of personal trauma, while detailing the severe mental and physical confusion following two incidents. In April of 1991, O'Reilly broke his jaw in a biking accident, and in July of that same year he was assaulted and had to undergo brain surgery as a result. The video is breathtaking, as O’Reilly narrates the painful story of his recovery, his problems with Public Aid, and his daily adjustment to pain.

Gibbons presents a Son of Sam-like relationship between a man and his dog in which the man takes the dog to task for the terrible things he has made him do. Shot in Pixelvision.

This title is also available on Joe Gibbons Videoworks: Volume 1.

Setting her pixelvision camera on herself and her room, Benning searches for a sense of identity and respect as a woman and a lesbian. Acting alternately as confessor and accuser, the camera captures Benning’s anger and frustration at feeling trapped by social prejudices.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

Benning illustrates a lustful encounter with a “bad girl,” through the gender posturing and genre interplay of Hollywood stereotypes: posing for the camera as the rebel, the platinum blonde, the gangster, the '50s crooner, and the heavy-lidded vamp. Cigarette poses, romantic slow dancing, and fast-action heavy metal street shots propel the viewer through the story of the love affair. Benning’s video goes farther than romantic fantasy, describing other facets of physical attraction including fear, violence, lust, guilt and total excitement.

Joe-Joe, 1993

Taking queer artistic license, Dougherty and Leslie Singer together portray a gay male playwright who took 1960s London by storm. The result is a witty play on narcissism and split personality that captures the banality of stardom while paying tribute to promiscuity and transgression. Filmed in black and white pixelvision and color video, this tape continues Dougherty’s exploration of counter-culture identity through lesbian portrayal, the same ingenious bait-and-switch device seen at work in the lesbian portrayal of the Beatles in her earlier tape, Grapefruit.

Jollies, 1990

Benning gives a chronology of her crushes and kisses, tracing the development of her nascent sexuality. Addressing the camera with an air of seduction and romance, giving the viewer a sense of her anxiety and special delight as she came to realize her lesbian identity.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

When she was 16, Benning stopped going to high school for three weeks and stayed inside with her camera, her TV set, and a pile of dirty laundry. This tape mirrors her psyche during this time. With the image breaking up between edits, the rough quality of this early tape captures Benning’s sense of isolation and sadness, her retreat from the world. As such, Living Inside is the confession of a chronic outsider.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

This experimental Pixelvision piece explores the tenuous boundaries of gender through a series of mini-sequences, among them a group of anecdotes told by women who have been mistaken for men and a must-see synchronized barbershop scene.

Based on a novel by Rita Mae Brown, Me and Rubyfruit chronicles the enchantment of teenage lesbian love against a backdrop of pornographic images and phone sex ads. Benning portrays the innocence of female romance and the taboo prospect of female marriage.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

Shot in Pixelvision, Joe Gibbon's Multiple Barbie features the artist as a smooth-talking psychoanlayst imploring the silent doll to explore her multiple personalities in order to purge their power from her psyche.

In a version of the “teenage diary,” Benning places her feelings of confusion and depression alongside grisly tales from tabloid headlines and brutal events in her neighborhood. The difficulty of finding a positive identity for oneself in a world filled with violence is starkly revealed by Benning’s youthful but already despairing voice.

This title is also available on Sadie Benning Videoworks: Volume 1.

This meditation on family and friends uses, as a point of departure, the relationship between the maker and his grandparents. The piece combines colorized Pixelvision and standard Pixelvision interviews, video beamed from the space shuttle Discovery, and English language records from the 1940s, to explore this often strained but humorous relationship. O’Reilly creates a child’s world, full of curiosity, in which all questions ultimately boil down to the question of identity.

“Nicky is seven. His parents are older and meaner.” A Place Called Lovely references the types of violence individuals find in life, from actual beatings, accidents and murders, to the more insidious violence of lies, social expectations, and betrayed faith. Benning collects images of this socially-pervasive violence from a variety of sources, tracing events from childhood: movies, tabloids, children's games (like mumbledy-peg), personal experiences, and those of others.

Tension between a man and his handsome young rival (a Ken doll) erupts into violence. Their interaction devolves from a series of tussles to a spanking.

This title is also available on Joe Gibbons Videoworks: Volume 1.

“It’s spring, it’s spring, and I feel I’m giving birth myself, to something monstrous, something ugly.” Gibbons enters the woods to begin his destructive campaign against spring, snapping the buds off trees while babbling maniacally. Sabotaging Spring is an impressionistic peek at Gibbons’s paranoid fancy; he explains the facts of life, evolution, and whistling to his dog Woody.

This title is also available on Joe Gibbons Videoworks: Volume 1.