Sonic Outlaws | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sonic Outlaws


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When the musical group Negativland released a record sampling a U2 hit, U2's label sued, forcing it to be recalled. Craig Baldwin's Sonic Outlaws takes this event as a starting point for a densely layered meditation on borrowing and originality in art. Baldwin interweaves lots of images--clips from old movies, Warhol's Marilyns, and humorously modified billboard advertisements to name a few--evoking the way our culture is constantly recycled. What "nature" was to earlier artists, media is to ours. But what makes Sonic Outlaws powerful and moving is its subtle opposition to the everything-is-equivalent postmodern ethos. Shots of kids playing with guns while seeing guns on TV show the media's power to manipulate and control, while footage of the Barbie Liberation Organization's gender-altered dolls and ACT UP members disrupting a Dan Rather newscast suggests that Baldwin advocates talking back to received imagery. His sympathy is with the individual voice, and he would have us all use new technologies to alter corporate or mass-produced imagery: to personalize it, humanize it, and, if all else fails, protest it. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Friday and Saturday, October 20 and 21, 8:00, 384-5533.

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