(June 23-27, 2001)
 in the frame of XXIII Moscow International Film Festival Rambler's Top100

F e s t i v a l & C o n f e r e n c e



Media Forum Video Programs

Program 1:
This programme will reflect on developments in contemporary video art, presenting a diverse mixture of works that explore the boundaries of image and sound, re-appropriate traditions and re-work classic themes, and show the intertwining of different types of narratives. A sample chart of recent tendencies.

TST.02, Bas van Koolwijk, NL, 2000, 4'55
Part of a series of short video compositions, compiled of digitally remodelled analog TV disturbances, the soundtrack of which is an audio translation of the video signal.

Undertow, Michiel van Bakel, NL, 1999, 1'50
Undertow is a phenomenon known from the surf on the beach, when at the breaking of a large wave you can feel it pulling at your legs under water, so that you are almost dragged out into the sea. It is a force that is literally lurking below the surface. In Undertow, a man is hovering motionlessly between the pillars, in fetal position. The camera is following a course underneath a highway that is built on concrete pillars, and starts turning around him. The man is the bench mark in a succession of photos edited into a sequence, with the frame moving jerkily around him. Hanging motionlessly in an underworld, while up there everything is racing along.

Hand to Mouth, Michael Chevalier F/GER, 1999, 7'00
The artist is constantly looking straight into the eyes of the viewer, talking in a faltering voice. simultaneously his hand is writing words on a piece of paper in front of him. The written words appear to be fundamentally different from the spoken ones. Drily and analytically, the speaker examines what the world has to offer. As
the video proceeds, it becomes clear that the artist-writer has no faith in the meaning of life and, as a malevolent oracle, he curses the world: "May all these expectations fade as vanity into unfulfilment and not be." The discrepancy between the spoken and the written word would seem to be symbolic for the chasm between trite, everyday life and the oversensitive mind, which succumbs to this. Nevertheless, the two seem to be related.

Hangen (Hanging), Nicky Zwaan, NL, 2000, 4'00
An alienating situation is being offered in a completely casual way, thus almost becoming absurd. In an ordinary living room, children are stuck to the heating pipe, father is reading the newspaper, mother is standing against the wall, seemingly wetting the floorcarpet. Reality and fiction are mixed and questioned.

Linear Tracking, Seoungho Cho, USA, 2000, 12'24
With the combination of these traditional formal methods and more modern ones, such as electronic image distortion, music, and rhythmical editing, Linear Tracking hovers between the figurative and the abstract, without ever opting for either. Now and then, a tip of the veil over the artist's way of working is lifted, when the sliding plate of a scanner comes into view. Seoungho Cho extracts ingredients from our visible reality and transforms them into a poetic mirage. This invites the viewer to do the same.

Sketch for Angels, Pia Wergius, NL, 2000, 2'40
The camera slowly glides along the ceiling to the open window of a flat. An ethereal voice is singing a lovely song. Following the camera outside through the window, we become aware of a bizarre situation: there, a girl is hanging from the windowsill. The setting is an ordinary Amsterdam house in an ordinary Amsterdam street. But within this commonplace context, the girl appears to be captured as if in a film still, with no explanation about purpose or cause. The title, the clarity of the light, the tranquillity, the song and the slow camera movements suggest that everything is under control, that this is how it is meant to be. The story is at a standstill, like a literal cliffhanger. The girl is frozen up in the flash of thought imploring help from above. Without being peremptory, Pia Wergius uses subtle means to add more possibilities for interpretation.

Gemini, Andreas Gedin SWE, 2000, 7'09
Against a blue background, we can see two virtually identical men. They are wearing the same yellow T-shirt and are telling a story together, an excerpt from the book Gemini by the French author Michel Tournier, about the love and interdependent bond between the twin brothers Jean and Paul. They were so much alike that even their parents could not tell them apart and they went through life as one man, Jean-Paul. The text is divided honestly. So honestly even that every word, however small, is split up in two. This means that, as a viewer, you hear the sound move to and fro, as if you were reading from left to right.
Although the men are carefully using the same intonation, at first it is difficult to follow their story. It seems difficult to choose whether to figure out the visual setting or to try and understand the spoken words. By not only joining the words, but also the men together, superimposing the one upon the other on your retina, images and story become one again.

Wouldn't it be nice, Emanuel Antille CH/NL, 1999, 14'
In Wouldn't it be nice, the way in which a family gathers together is particularly recognizable. It is a reunion, people have dressed up and are indulging in all the rituals involved: the exchange of greetings, the raising of glasses, and the festive meal together. And yet, it is all just a little bit different in this film. The familiarity of the whole get-together and the total alienation that it also exudes are played off against each other. Due to the staging, camera work, and editing, you are constantly being sent off on another track. At the end of the film, the question posed by the artist in the title is cheerfully echoed in a song by the Beach Boys. But whether this is a sincere wish or an ironic comment still hangs in the air.

Belchic QE, reMI, A/NL, 2000, 3'52
Renate Oblak and Michael Pinter, working together as reMI, consistently make use of the tools that are typical of the digital media: hard disk, software and monitor screen. They feed the computer with an abundance of sometimes conflicting data and programmes, allowing these to generate mages and sounds, in a manner of speaking at their own discretion. The artists in their turn react to these images and sounds, sometimes anticipating the reaction of the audience during live performances. Apart from the texts that are moving across the screen, nothing in Belchic QE refers to a recognizable reality. No stories are being told, no sentiments appealed to, or illusions sold. reMI make pure image and sound that enters your mind directly via your eyes and ears. As part of a vicious circle, the texts refer to what is happening. In this way, the meaning and the experience are held brotherly together in the embrace of form.

Program 2: within the framework of Telepresence by Extension

Mobile Image, Hole in Space (excerpts), USA, 1980, 6'30
Marinus Boezem, Breathing upon the Tube, NL, 1971, 2'30
Gerry Schum, Identifications, GER, 1970, 32'40
Servaas, Pfffft, installation view (excerpts), NL, 1981, 2'00
Shut the Fuck Up!, General Idea, CAN, 1985, 14'00
Fiona Tan, Stolen Words, NL, 1991, 2'40

Hole in Space, Mobile Image, USA, 1980, excerpts, 6'30
Excerpts of a Communication Art Project by Galloway and Rabinowtz. A four-day public satelite connection, set up on television screens in the windows of a shop in New York and in Los Angeles, with the accompanying communication chaos.

Breathing upon the Tube, Marinus Boezem, NL, 1971, 2'30
Boezem's face appears on the screen, stares at the viewer, and begins to breathe on the picture tube. After some time passes, the image begins to blur through the moisture deposited and the artist disappears from sight for several moments. While the vapour clears Boezem keeps his gaze directed on the camera, motionless, until his face is again clearly visible. With his own breath the artist makes himself invisible as an object, with the intention of creating a space that is not defined by a concrete image. The time between the disappearance and appearance and the continued sound of breathing play an important attendant role.

General Idea (CAN), Shut the Fuck Up (1985, 14'00)
The Canadian group General Idea's 1979 made-for-TV tape Test Tube explores the relationship which exists between artists and the mass media. As a sequel to Test Tube, Shut The Fuck Up deals with its antithesis, and specifically with the media cliché of the artist. The (sometimes hilarious) fragments of TV programs, documentaries and feature films that are featured in Shut The Fuck Up create the impression that the media have little respect for 'the artist' and that they ascribe to a set of preconceived ideas and stereotypes . These images are periodically interrupted by General Idea's 'talking heads' who spew forth artistic clichés. The media regard the artist as being a buffoon who 'is just fooling around'. In fact the media don't know how to deal with the modern artist. To what extent are artists themselves to blame for this ridiculous state of affairs? General Idea's advice to all concerned is: "When there is nothing to say: shut the fuck up!"

Fiona Tan, Stolen Words, NL, 1991, 2'40
The short tape 'Stolen Words' reaches out as a poem, as a personal monologue that Fiona Tan recounts against the indifference and cynicism with which the mass-media 'present their report' on life. Although they pretend otherwise, the mass-media actually make forms of global responsibility well-nigh impossible to attain. More often than not, they end up throwing the individual back onto hers or his own resources - whether she or he has any or not. Drawn from existing TV-footage, regarded as 'the inexhaustible archives of the collective consciousness', Stolen Words consists of a series of mounted 'stills' - unabashed close-ups of various people. An English voice-over, provided with original Dutch sub-titles, mouths the usual standard phrases...hinting at 'the seriousness of the situation' or 'things aren't going well', etc. They are stolen sentences: Stolen Words quite consciously balances on the delicate and problematical razor's edge of public and private concerns.

Netherlands Media Art Institute
Montevideo/Time Based Arts
Keizersgracht 264
NL 1016 EV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T +31 20 6237101
F +31 20 6244423

    © 2001 MediaArtLab; design - @division