Marvelous Movie Mondays: Karissa Hahn

EPFC | May 13th, 2020

Just a reminder! My name is Michael Woods aka M. Woods aka Disassociative Productions and I’m guest curating for the month – bringing you radical work in the times of corona.

Just a reminder, the theme for this month’s work is Body Politics + Digital Phenomenology. Please check out last week’s artist Xiaoer Liu

This week I’m breaking the rules and I’ll be showing multiple videos & highlighting awesome sounds – like DJ Activist Omjpg Yara aka I-VYE aka I-VYE ZYU GAWA. Check her work out for consciousness raising mixes. Dope shit for quarantine dancing and creativity building.

I have gotten the privilege to curate my friend Karissa Hahn‘s work for years. Her work is already a fixture of Echo Park Film Center and LA and she is the perfect representative for that diverse and extraordinary scene, which includes LACDA Los Angeles Center for Digital ArtThe VAST Lab, and Los Angeles Filmforum – a network that has helped exhibit Karissa’s ‘spectra ephemera’, what she terms the ever-expanding universe of her work in multiple media.

Often, but not always, Hahn’s work begins with the use of super-8, a perfect mechanomorphic semi-automated apparatus for the depiction of a mundane digital world in semi-simulated, semi-mechanical, semi-broken disarray.

The movie I’m highlighting is Cataract Churning Grey – – a horror film set in a transitory dream/wake state that begins with Hahn’s regular character, herself, in a larval state, wrapped in bed sheets. From the first image, Hahn evokes her own work – a wormhole connection to the movie ___________ in which the horrors of the Trump administration lowly murmur in the background as she attempts to flatten her body until it is nothing but a line. A form of physical escape.

But in Cataract Churning Grey, Hahn falls into a mediated dream where she is forced into a Sisyphean loop, continually trying to ease the tension of a tea kettle propped against a desert backdrop that Hahn must continually traverse – portraying her struggle with a self-aware despair that borders on irony and actual exhaustion. She runs in slow motion, both mocking and acknowledging the prison of mundane suspense and time-space. She is both action hero and stuck in a molasses suspension of grey silvers that have sublimated into pixel meat that billows like the water vapor trying to escape. The kettle calls out like a siren, which draws Hahn’s Sisyphus out of fear of over-boiling, to alleviate the increasing pressure to become stranded in the rocks. (In this sequence, Hahn’s work reminds me of the way we compromise politically, trying to set the hot issues aside until they become catastrophic; until there is no way to stop them from boiling over.)

The key image of the movie occurs on Hahn’s third attempt – mocking and perfectly demonstrating the Hollywood rule of threes – the tea kettle is revealed to be propped precariously upon a mobile hot-plate next to an anonymous nowhere ocean.

The tension reaches its height as the threats to Hahn’s character’s body outweigh the fear of over-boiling. A new set of fears dominate – being drowned, electrified, abraded, and bruised, while Hahn calmly sets the kettle off the hot plate and finds herself back in the horrors of the mundane to continue the same task endlessly.

(The grey cataract of the title also reflects Hahn’s tendency to selectively and completely erase the identity of landscapes and objects. The cataract apparatus allows her to render all mis-en-scene in a hypnogogic micro-narrative. Her main character is almost a caricature of self. The super-8 and other analog/digital hybrid techniques she utilizes help to create this transitory state that functionally reflects the void between sleep and dream states in a world over-boiling in its own stew of physical reality/hyperreality/entropy/hypermundaneness.)

Cataract Churning Grey is genius in the way it serves to tie together pieces of the spectra ephemera. Other examples: it recalls the stranded mermaid that must abrade herself to be seen by the camera in Before the Portrait:

It recalls Hahn’s analog/digital trip-escapes like Please Step Out of the Frame which connects to Open Window which then connects to pieces like Thank You in the way they interrogate and corrupt hybrid analog/digital technologies. Another essential part of her artmaking is her daily instagram experimentation using ink-jet printers, automated vacuum cleaners, slow-scan video sources, motion detectors, and all sorts of consumer instruments to further degrade the integrity of the mundane illusion.

Hahn’s work is radical, imaginative, unique, ever-expanding, and deserving of further critical examination for its complexity. Her place is already solidified amongst the best avant-garde filmmakers in history.

Last thing – I know I know tl;dr
A little shameless self-promotion, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen is this week. My movie Body Prop: Movement 2 [SOLAR NEMESIS] is playing in the Muvi International Section. CHECK IT OUT

Also, AGITATE:21C is our international avant-garde. Karissa has been one of the artists we’ve exhibited in the past. We’re open to anyone who is avant-garde. Totally inclusive except to haters and abusers. Promoting all voices – not just those that are white and male.

Signing off – stay safe and healthy and I’ll see you next week with a selection from Robert Seidel WHICH IS AMAZING. & don’t worry, before the month is out I’m gonna drop a bunch more than 4 movies. THANK YOU Kate Lain once again for letting me hijack.

Marvelous Movie Mondays: 3800 PICTURES OF MY GIRL

EPFC | May 4th, 2020

guest curator: Michael Woods aka M. Woods aka Disassociative Productions

Thanks to Echo Park Film Center I’ve been given the opportunity to present to you a selection of 4 movies (and artists) over the course of the next 4 Mondays in May. An extra big thank you to Kate Lain who has not only helped organize this, but whose work to spread avant-garde, independent filmmaking during this quarantine time has been extraordinary.

The theme for this month’s work is Body Politics + Digital Phenomenology. As an artist/curator I’m interested in the way hyperreality affects our world by forging illusions held together by a vast network of simulacra that has destroyed “reality”. I’m interested in the way hyperreality is exterminating our consciousness of self and our perception of physical existence/space as we yearn for virtual comfort and connectedness.

How do we attack hyperreality, reclaiming the real from patriarchal institutions and dominant cultures, while continuing to explore the phenomenology of digital existence?

In this series we’ll be exploring four radical artists whose work deals directly with one or both thematic subjects. Through a multitude of media these artists create transcendent experiences that radically reorient the spectator. (to spur introspection and disassociate from the corporate spectacle/spectator paradigm.)

The first artist I’d like to highlight is Xiaoer Liu, a native of China now working in Berlin, whose work is non-stop daily catharsis/reflection/diary-divulging/self-sacrifical rite of empowerment. Xiaoer is a fellow co-founder of AGITATE:21C, an international, all-inclusive, avant-garde, and she is among the most bold, courageous, and prolific artists of our generation. Her work embodies the avant-garde spirit, probably better than anyone else.

While I’m including a digitized super-8 movie, Xiaoer’s work is really a large transmedia puzzle laid out across several platforms including facebook, Vimeo, and instagram accounts including: @showerartspace @endless_confusion @xiaoer.liu_s_art

Xiaoer’s work expresses fearless purging of her traumas, a window into every emotional escape, depicting frank and honest sexuality and body exploration across paintings, drawings, journals, photos, videos, films, and public performances. She literally burns her physical work in staged instagram performance every few months as a re-inauguration of her artistic self, just as she publicly performs tearing layers upon layers of plastic bindings to reveal herself as naked and bruised by all of the restraints – social, racial, political, familial – that she has had to resist against her entire life. This resistance is key to her work, which also includes spontaneous art party performances and dances where she demands the bewildered public to “PAY ARTISTS” #FUCKYOUPAYME. Xiaoer is actually harnessing an avant-garde energy that screams a big “Fuck You” at all of the illusory institutions that seek to silence this type of honesty in art – a censorship she knows more than most artists.

I’ve chosen 3800 PICTURES OF MY GIRL because it is an artifact of this larger practice, an abstract movie made entirely of her menstruation, which she lovingly refers to as her girl. She is taking pride in her body and in the art that she produces, organically, naturally, and without fear of toxic patriarchy and reactionary disgust. The work transcends into a trance as she shares a “sacrament” of herself as raw art. – 3800 PICTURES OF MY GIRL

Marvelous Movie Mondays: The Woman Buried Beneath The Candle and Inearth

EPFC | April 27th, 2020

guest curator: Kerry St. Laurent

Theme: Tonal Contrast
We’re looking at films that explore contrast in the several ways we can interpret the word “tone” – sound, color, and mood – both in each individual piece and how they contrast with each other.

Today’s set looks at work that uses vibrant color manipulation coming from contrasting media (film and repurposed magnetic video), beginning with “The Woman Buried Beneath the Candle” (2020), visuals by Daniel James Cashman and audio score by Burial Grid. Second up is “Inearth” (2005) by CJ Brabant. The work seamlessly travels between hopeful and ominous, both somehow feeling “charged” but in contrasting ways.

Marvelous Movie Mondays: Cells and Stalks / With Pluses and Minuses

EPFC | April 21st, 2020

guest curator: Kerry St. Laurent

Theme: Tonal Contrast
We’re looking at films that explore contrast in the several ways we can interpret the word “tone” – sound, color, and mood – both in each individual piece and how they contrast with each other.

Today’s pairing explores contrast in form and feel with “Cells and Stalks” by Herb Theriault and “With Pluses and Minuses” by Mike Stoltz. Both use traditional film, but “Cells” compiles stills and “Pluses” is 16mm. Both use high contrast between light and dark. We can see a transition between organic and geometric, but also in overall feeling and emotional response: tell us how you react to them in the comments!

Marvelous Movie Mondays: InLuma and Black Rain

EPFC | April 14th, 2020

guest curator: Kerry St. Laurent

Theme: Tonal Contrast
We’re looking at films that explore contrast in the several ways we can interpret the word “tone” – sound, color, and mood – both in each individual piece and how they contrast with each other.

Today’s pairing explores contrast in scale, from imagined organisms speaking to “bio-electric
communication and organic consciousness” in Colleen Keough’s “InLuma” (2009) to the more cosmic “visual data as it tracks interplanetary space for solar wind and CME’s (coronal mass ejections) heading towards Earth” in “Black Rain” by Semiconductor (2009). Both explore black-and-white tonal contrast in different ways, ranging from sharp edges to softened greys.