Chicago's Own: New Experimental Works

Video artist Jennifer Reeder is best known for her role as “White Trash Girl” in her series of B-movie parodies whose loud, wild humor compensates for a lack of visual elegance. But A Room With the Walls Blasted to Shreds and Falling (2000), Reeder's fine contribution to this program, is a complete change of pace, a quiet, meditative, and thought-provoking study of midwestern landscapes. Swimmers in a pool, shot from slightly above the waterline, form abstract patterns of bobbing heads and arms, while a standing figure seen from above is mostly obscured by a tree that's part of a driveway's landscaping. The video suggests one of those creepy sci-fi films in which the few surviving humans on earth have become zombies, yet its moody study of objects and spaces also follows in the nonnarrative avant-garde tradition, beautifully evoking a suburban ethos in which human figures barely disrupt an empty, manicured world. Thomas Comerford's ILLA CAMERA OBSCVRA (The Dark Room), shot with a pinhole camera, shows mostly interiors and windows, its mildly fuzzy cinematography creating a strong meditation on the tenuous nature of filmed images. Christopher Bravo's Gone Over (2000) is an elaborate, almost baroque version of the sort of black-and-white abstraction exemplified by Hans Richter's Rhythmus 21 (1921), discovering an amazing variety of shapes and turning wonderfully lyrical at the end. And Ben Russell's Daumë (2000) is one of the strangest films I've ever seen; its characters come and go as if they're “primitives” posing for the camera, either obeying or fighting an ethnographer's controlling eye. On the same program: films by Gemma Ryan, Brittany Parks, Wenhwa Ts'ao, and Arlene Harting. 86 min.

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