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Available Light: 'Saturn Returns' at Club SAW

Saturn Returns
Curated by Brett Kashmere (Pittsburgh PA, in attendance)
Presented by Available Light Screening Collective (Ottawa ON)

Thursday October 22nd 2009 @ Club SAW @ 7:30pm
67 Nicholas Street @ 2 Daly Avenue (in the Arts Court building)
Pay What You Can (PWYC) / Cash Bar

Curator Brett Kashmere writes: “The Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon that occurs every 27-to-30 years in a person’s life, coinciding with the time it takes the planet to orbit the sun. As Saturn ‘returns’ to the degree it occupied at the time of our birth, we cross over a major threshold and into the next stage of life. My generation is currently undergoing its first Saturn Return, the time when we leave youth behind, re-evaluate the past, and solidify plans for the future. Growing up in the 80s, this generation underwent similar phases in fashion and formulations of ethics for the next two decades. Early on, we shared virtual experiences via Atari and networked using payphones and post offices. We changed identities often, slipping in and out of styles and subcultures, a novel concept at the time. Music videos turned sounds into images, and TV framed our social exchange. Mix-tapes and VCRs put recording and juxtaposition into the hands of individuals, and sampling expanded the field of re-production further, enabling new music to emerge from the old and the overlooked.

“In the 90s, adolescent affiliations began to fade. Technological shifts paralleled personal changes. We traded in our tapes and bought CDs. Some found value in rigor and guidance from the avant-garde, especially in its pursuit of challenging form and anti-consumerist stance. To reject popular culture, and to embrace the art of the 60s and 70s, was to retreat from the contemporary world. For a while, structural film and noise rock were the bomb. Now, in the new millennium, we’ve lost our patience for durational aesthetics and jam bands. Even Michael Snow re-made Wavelength for those who don’t have the time. YouTube has ushered in radical brevity: nothing over 10 minutes (the new “Don’t trust anyone over 30”). We want our media to be concise, vertical, and portable. Compression, condensation, and simultaneity are the new moves. At the same time, subcultures have gone mainstream and become search terms, tags. In this meeting of margins and center, music is the passageway, offering a readymade vocabulary of shared experience and shorthand emotional cues.

“Leslie Supnet’s Animated Heavy Metal Parking Lot illustrates her favorite scenes from the 1986 documentary classic, remaining faithful to its no-budget style. Marisa Olson’s Performed Listening: H, Oliver Laric’s Message The, and Tara Mateik’s PYT re-vision quintessential songs from the 70s and 80s, internalizing, rearranging, and acting out their respective lyrics. Michael Robinson’s And We All Shine On and Jacob Ciocci’s Don’t Worry Be Happy, meanwhile, weld ambiguous signifiers to a pair of familiar hit singles for expressive affect. Seth Price’s prefers a silent treatment for his NJS Map, using animated diagrams to outline the historical development of ‘New Jack Swing’, a forgotten but influential music genre.

“Others employ music as a means to compose and structure images. Whereas Ben Russell distends time, transforming a rock audience's collective freak-out into a trance ritual, Michael Bell-Smith layers it to the point of visual erasure in his dense adaptation of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. What you hear is also what you see in Tasman Richardson’s The Game, a video-audio concrète that deploys 80s icons in its mash-up of video games, remote warfare, and military recruitment. Takeshi Murata explores similar terrain, transforming footage from the 1982 film Rambo: First Blood into a seething morass of electronic abstraction. The program ends with Xander Marro and Mat Brinkman’s 01/06, a single-frame barrage / whiplash ‘rewind’, set to the artists’ discordant, improvised squall.

“Absorbing inspiration from both underground histories and mass culture, the works in the Saturn Returns program sublimate the sound and image the music to reach transcendent expression: a new audio-vision, where the borders between past and present, accessibility and experimentation become more fluid than ever before.”

Program:

The Animated Heavy Metal Parking Lot -- Leslie Supnet, 2008, video, 1:40
Black and White Trypps Number Three -- Ben Russell, 2007, 35mm/16mm, 11:00
Performed Listening: H – Marisa Olson, 2007, video, 7:13
Message The – Oliver Laric, 2007, video, 2:00
And We All Shine On – Michael Robinson, 2006, 16mm, 6:45
Don’t Worry Be Happy (stressful mix) – Jacob Ciocci, 2005, video, 2:45
NJS Map – Seth Price, 2001-02, video, 2:20
PYT (Pretty Young Thing) -- Tara Mateik, 2004, video, 4:15
Chapters 1-12 of R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet Synced and Played Simultaneously – Michael Bell-Smith, 2005, video, 4:22
The Game – Tasman Richardson, 2007, video, 3:52
Untitled (Pink Dot) – Takeshi Murata, 2007, video, 5:00
01/06 – Mat Brinkman and Xander Marro, 2006, 16mm, 12:30

(This screening, originally presented at the 2009 Images Festival in Toronto, will also serve as the Ottawa launch for ‘Manifest’, the 1st issue of Kashmere’s INCITE! Journal of Experimental Media & Radical Aesthetics; copies will be available for purchase.)

Bios:

Brett Kashmere grew up playing hockey on the Canadian prairies, took an MA and a MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, lives and makes films (videos) in Pittsburgh, PA, and teaches in the Cinema Studies Program at Oberlin College in Ohio. He fashions himself as a casual cultural historian and small press publisher, and is not deeply committed to any one place or mode of thought. He is currently editing a minor opus on basketball and politics in contemporary America, as well as the second issue of INCITE!: "Counter-Archive".

INCITE! Journal of Experimental Media & Radical Aesthetics is a publication dedicated to the discourse, culture and community of experimental film, video, and new media. Merging print and online platforms, this hybrid journal addresses the lack of critical attention afforded film and media artists working today. http://www.incite-online.net

Available Light Screening Collective is an Ottawa, Ontario-based artists' collective committed to the curated exhibition of experimental film and video art. Support for Available Light's activities is received from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Ottawa. For further information contact availablelightcollective@gmail.com or join our group on Facebook.

 

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