Program 12: Life Is a Dream

Robots of Sodom and Every Evening Freedom (Tom Kalin)

Two video excerpts from a larger work in progress entitled Behold Goliath or The Boy With the Filthy Laugh based on the experimental fiction of Alfred Chester, Robots of Sodom (from In Praise of Vespasian) and Every Evening Freedom (from Behold Goliath) are composed primarily of stylized, text-based sequences narrated through overlaid voice synthesizers (using standard Macintosh-platform speech recognition, MacinTalk™ voice personalities like Agnes, Ralph, and Fred), creating a dissociative and alienated, yet hypnotic, engaging, and sensorally immersive experience.


Beacon (Mike Hoolboom)

Reminiscent of the elegies of Aleksandr Sokurov, particularly the spectral forms of Elegy of a Voyage and incorporating evocative, narrated text written by the accomplished video artist Mike Hoolboom, Beacon is a serene, haunting, and contemplative tone poem on spiritual displacement and longing.


Security Anthem (Kent Lambert)

Security Anthem is an idiosyncratic and humorous composition of enunciated random sentences from circa 1980 (which the video artist obtained from public domain speech pathology training tapes) set against a low resolution video of the ‘singing senator’ John Ashcroft uninhibitedly belting out a tune.


The Phantom Museum (The Brothers Quay)

My favorite entry from the program, the brothers Quay create yet another beautiful, haunting, atmospheric, and exquisitely tactile composition of stop-motion animation and live action as an unseen visitor wanders an empty museum that houses a curious repository of medical school paraphernalia. Observing and manipulating the antique dolls, prosthetic limbs and mechanisms, and surgical devices, the video creates an indelibly poetic meditation on the biological processes of human existence.


Jungle (Random Touch)

Jungle is a passable but unextraordinary serendipity piece that juxtaposes footage of (undoubtedly inebriated) revelers at an amusement park against a pulsing tribal-inspired rhythm of an enveloping (if not overwhelming) musical soundtrack.


Picture-Book (Ed Bowes)

Picture-Book is a strangely enigmatic and visually gorgeous, but ultimately inscrutable experiment in Henry James-inspired narrative abstraction. Recalling the vacuous gloss of a late 1980s Calvin Klein Obsession commercial dialogue (although less polished) with Eric Rohmer naturalistic visuals, the frustrating opacity of the narrative does not lend itself towards a sustained, near feature-length work – interesting, but becomes tedious in its nonsensical repetivity after the half hour mark.

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