Film or Videomaking

"...a rumination, a series of borrowed 'dialogues' out of an ongoing argument with myself. It meanders, mentally and physically, reflecting on the conditions of being human; on transience, consciousness and desire. It uses landscapes as provocations, as sites of contemplation. And between the landscape and the thought, i.e. between the radical presence of the physical world and the idea, there is, more often than not, a distance, disbelief or irony."

--Ken Kobland

Rudy Burckhardt (1914-1999) was best known as a photographer and filmmaker.  He moved to New York from his native Basel in 1935 at age 21. He shot portraits of many artists for Art News during the 1950s and early ’60s, capturing their work methods in candid and intimate photos. His films, frequently portraying cityscapes and urban life, include The Pursuit of Happiness (1940), Under the Brooklyn Bridge (1953), What Mozart Saw on Mulberry Street (1956), Square Times (1967), and Inside Dope (1971). 

This video diary/travelogue centers on a tropical trip to Acapulco where yours truly hits both sand and surf with maximum impact. The actual movie that's being documented throughout this video bit the dust via a hard-drive malfunction, so this is almost all that remains (so far) of the doomed yet enjoyable venture. We all donned bathing suits and splashed our way through heaven and hell as Miguel Calderon directs the cursed venture in skimpy attire amid other scantily clad examples of electro-graphic expertise.

The Videofreex had several experiences with the Black Panther Party, including interviewing Illinois Chapter Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton and New Haven Minister of Information Cappy Pinderhughes. In this tape, recorded on March 5th 1971, the Videofreex one-person camera crew Bart Friedman is walking the hallways of CBS, trying to find out where a video statement by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver is located. The shots are mostly close up on people’s torsos and there is some image loss, but the sound is intact. The tape has an eerie espionage feel.

A rising moon and lowering standards in secular shenanigans highlight this documentary on the making of a sci-fi epic for mini-adults. The stakes are high and the porkchops well done as cast and crew blast off to kiddie dimensions only dreamed of by reformed perverts who revert back to more primitive states of fetishistic attire to usher in the new millenium.

A pile-up of events pertaining to cinematic expositions begins its whirlwind of activity in the south and then moves west with the sun to the “golden state” for all that glitters on a silver screen. Along the way we find a cast of characters befitting the halls of any art asylum in need of talented inmates. Rich and poor lend their support to a medium that entombs our tribal dreams in a cocoon of luminous filaments that ignite projection lamps statewide so that the darkness be not so blinding (whatever the hell that means?).

Circle's Short Circuit is an experimental feature-length work with neither a beginning nor an end—the film can be viewed from any random point. It moves through a circle of five interlocking episodes that describe the phenomenon of interruption in contemporary communication through various forms and modes, investigating causes, consequences, and side-effects. Genres shift along the episodic path of this circle, moving from documentary to essay, through collage, simulated live-coverage, and silent film.

In this 2006 interview, filmmaker Jem Cohen discusses his early interest in art, his family’s welcome antipathy towards commercialization, and his unconventional, anti-mainstream film practice. In particular, Cohen discusses his film This is a History of New York, and how this piece exemplifies his interest in the “territory of sensation” rather than simple visual descriptiveness. Cohen concludes by discussing the role of archiving in his practice, and how compulsive documentation of the quotidian and unexceptional can result in the empowerment of the everyday.

In this conversation, Cathy Lee Crane (b. 1962) talks about her experience working with Harun Farocki on the groundbreaking video I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000) and how the collaboration has informed her practice as a film and video maker. Crane also discusses the artistic approach and strategies that she takes when interacting with correctional institutions in the United States.

A portrait of Luce Vigo, film critic, educator, and the daughter of pivotal French filmmaker Jean Vigo. Commissioned by the Spanish documentary festival, Punto de Vista, the film incorporates Luce's memories of her extraordinary life, reflections on her father, and images of Northern Spain.

In this video, made soon after the death of his mother Stella, we accompany George to the wake, and on to a trip to Albert Maysles holiday home on Fisher's Island.

"Deep waters flow around the living, dead and inanimate objects that bring this picture to life on the wide screen tapestry of electronic reality. Come and join the young and old of eastern energies as they bask in the sun and shadows of past sins and future fortunes. See how the other side lives and devours the fruits and nuts that pepper this great nation with neon nutrients worthy of Broadway and beyond!"

After the screening of his film Wai'á rini, the power of dream in other Xavante villages, the people of Aldeia Nova from the São Marcos reservation asked Divino to make a film on the same ritual, the Wai'á ceremony. In this ceremony the young men are initiated into the spiritual world to develop their curative power. This is a new experience for Divino, as he has to shoot in a different village, but also find a way to try new tricks and to develop his editing skills.

Various languages.

Direction and photography: Divino Tserewahú

Susan Mogul's fantasies of success have always a comic, congenial twist, as in Dear Dennis, a video letter to Dennis Hopper inspired by her discovery that they share the same dentist. The central irony of this witty piece is that, despite Hopper's popular persona as an innovative, sub-cultural filmmaker and performer, the actual distance between his so-called independent" films and Mogul's experimental, non-commercial videos prevents Susan from finding any common ground from which to address Hopper other than the subject of dental work.

Deliver, 2008

Like a generation of viewers, I was profoundly affected by Deliverance.  But I have always been troubled by the hegemonic structures of gender proposed by Boorman and Dickey. Hence, my version is played by women: myself, Peggy Ahwesh, Jackie Goss, Su Friedrich, and Meredith Root, all experimental filmmakers who work as academics. While faithful to our respective male characters, we also play ourselves.

The Disappointment: Or, The Force of Credulity is a documentary about the search for four lost treasures buried on a single farm in Missouri. These treasures include a Spanish explorer's gold, silver from the Civil War, mysterious stone carvings, lost texts, and a wife's attempt to heal her husband and protect herself and her children. Part personal documentary and part historical essay, The Disappointment traces the patterns of cultural forgetting etched in the landscape of the Austin Farm.

Nathaniel Dorsky’s films are precise articulations of cinematic qualities: the surprise of an edit, the composition of framing, and the flash of the image. Dubbed the “filmmaker’s filmmaker”, Dorsky’s work captures the fleeting moments of everyday life in its poetic chaos in such films as Pneuma (1976-82), Triste (1974-96), Alaya (1976-87), and Variations (1992-98). Using a spring-wound Bolex and 16mm reversal stock film, Dorsky’s films operate in the realm of the purely visual.

In this interview Cecilia Dougherty describes her work and her explorations into family interactions, outsider psychology, role-playing, lesbian sexuality, and popular culture. Her videos Grapefruit (1989) and Coal Miner’s Granddaughter (1991) work from within mass culture norms to create a lesbian dialogue within the “normal”—what Dougherty calls “the life of the ordinary lesbian and her working-class family.” Her more recent vides explore lesbian identity within a separate social sphere.

Dramatically Repeating Lawrence of Arabia is a re-edit of David Lean’s 217-minute orientalist “classic” Lawrence of Arabia into a 15-minute hallucination of repeating masculinized poses, costumes and dramatic gestures. An algorithmic structure condenses and frame-by-frame remixes the original film into a cycling of divergence, convergence and momentary mirrorings.

The Embassy deals with the codes of representation used by the former Portuguese colonial power over the West African country Guinea-Bissau, and with modes of memory production. It shows a photo album depicting the perspective of the Portuguese colonist, who photographed with documentary diligence landscapes, people, architecture and monuments in Guinea-Bissau in the 1940s and 1950s.

This high octane drama that I made with my students at the San Francisco Art Institute chronicles the moral decline of it's heroine, as the love of a man she obsesses over drives her over something else: a cliff into hell.  It's a free fall all the way to the bottom destination, and there's a heck of a lot of nice looking, young people along for the ride.

Videofreex members Davidson Gigliotti, Bart Friedman, Skip Blumberg and Nancy Cain travel to Syracuse, New York to attend an exhibition and two-day conference featuring video art at the Everson Museum of Art held from April 4-7, 1974. More than simply recording this event known formally as “Video and the Museum,” the tape poignantly highlights the ways in which the Freex—by wielding a video camera—simultaneously become art world archivists, video collaborators, and on-the-ground reporters of culture and art in the 1970s.

Excess, 2009

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

" order to take the next step (not forward or backwards, but only: to go on) it is often necessary (for me) to lean on a picture made by someone else; sometimes a word will do, a gesture, the look on a stranger's face. Colin Campbell made the next step possible for me, so I took up a video camera (his pictures were my company, and my camera accompanied his pictures). Between his images of the past and mine, Colin Campbell emerged as a Cold Warrior, as an artist who would fight the Cold War with stereo.

This sprawling drama about a group of country folk sucked into the fashion world of magazine layouts and romantic intrigue features a cast of glamorously garbed gals and good-natured bumpkins. Produced in collaboration with his students at the San Francisco Art Institute, the picture delivers high-octane antics fueled by the $800 budget and creative desperation typically inherent in these types of endeavors. The cast is large and labors valiantly with the high speed shooting schedule and color saturated subplots.

Film Folk, 2004

A young moviemaker discusses the horror film he hopes to open commercially. In the process he opens his lavish apartment to the hungry eyes and tummy of he who rots in the sidelights. During this discourse we feast on the vitality of youth as it restores life to the walking and digesting dead who bring maturity to both sacred and profane altars. Also along for the ride is a redheaded fleshpot in need of sudsy holy water for a good gargle.