Review: Highlights of NYFF Projections 2014

Lorem Ipsum 1 (2013) by Victoria Fu

Lorem Ipsum 1 (2013) by Victoria Fu

Last month, the 2014 New York Film Festival unveiled the debut of the “Projections” program, a section of the NYFF that presents “an international selection of artists’ film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be.” Previously known as “Views From The Avant Garde,” which was programmed by Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith, this subterranean section of the NYFF has been a premiere destination for avant-garde and experimental cinema. With the Projections program, curators Gavin Smith, Aily Nash, and Dennis Lim moved the program in a noticeably new direction, a direction that is more open to exhibiting video work and the work of emerging artists.

We had the pleasure of viewing the many of the short works that exhibited at the 2014 NYFF’s Projections program and this article highlights some of our favorites.

 

Tomonari Nishikawa

Sound of a Million Insects, Light of a Thousand Stars
Tomonari Nishikawa, Japan, 2014, 2 min, 35mm, color, sound

Sound of a Million Insects, Light of a Thousand Stars is a conceptual celluloid film wherein artist Tomonari Nishikawa buries 100 feet of 35mm film negative underground near a Japanese countryside road that is 15 miles away from the infamous Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Nishikawa states that, “The area was once an evacuation zone, but now people live there after the removal of the contaminated soil. This film was exposed to the possible remaining radioactive materials.” The results are abstract and beautiful, producing blots and streaks in colors of marine, fluorescent green and cyan, and observing these colored marks jitter across the screen evokes contemplation over strange and powerful forces, e.g., nuclear energy and its latent ability to either help or harm humanity.

 

Night-Noon-Shambhavi-Kaul

Night Noon
Shambhavi Kaul, Mexico/USA, 2014, 12 min, video, color, sound

In the opening of Shambhavi Kaul’s Night Noon, howling winds dust up sand and travel across the barren desert lands of Death Valley, poetically observing the interactions between the natural forces and Mother Earth and its inhabitants. Trekking across the land in a graceful and hushed manner, the film patiently captures the beautiful surroundings as it moves ahead to find large glistering bodies of water, strange rock formations, and living creatures like colorful parrots and wild dogs. Immaculately framed, and subtly stylized with moving compositions that sometimes verge on the surreal, Night Noon is an absorbing moving image portrait of the natural environments that exist far away from human life.  

 

Fe26-Kevin-Jerome-Everson

Fe26
Kevin Jerome Everson, USA, 2014, 7 min, 16mm, color, sound

With Fe26, Kevin Jerome Everson documents two men from Cleveland, Issac ‘Ipleeza’ Chester and Jonathan ‘Streets’ Lee, as they move around the city scrapping metals from abandoned homes and from manhole sewer covers. It’s a brief yet nuanced glimpse into the lives of these two men, and Everson’s mellow and veritably sincere approach further establishes him as one of the premier contemporary artists working within documentary cinema.

 

jodie-mack-razzle-dazzle-still

Razzle Dazzle
Jodie Mack, USA, 2014 5 min, 16mm, color, silent

With Razzle Dazzle, Jodie Mack continues her mastery of the art of animation, creating a varicolored and sparkly film that quickly shuttles through many different fabrics and materials, especially those bejeweled with rainbow and glittery ornamentations that shimmer and reflect light, glittering and dazzling the eye of the viewer.

 

paul-clipson-Light-Year-still

Light Year
Paul Clipson, USA, 2013, 10 min, 16mm, color, sound

Energized by light, reflections, and spatial distribution in the urban world, Paul Clipson’s Light Year is an impressive piece comprised of countless superimpositions and multilayered images. The result is a beautifully natural moving image artwork, and Clipson’s framing configurations, image formations, and delicately complex use of color produce an organic unity of psychedelia that’s mesmerizing.

 

Ken-Jacobs-Canopy

Canopy
Ken Jacobs, USA, 5 min, 2014, video, color, silent

Ken Jacobs’ latest piece presents a series of still images that gaze into a city sidewalk canopy from a construction site, and in typical Jacobs’ fashion, these images are manipulated, abstracted, and animated into undulating waves that flicker, dance, and glimmer.

 

Victoria-Fu-Lorem-ipsum-still-image-2

Lorem Ipsum 1
Victoria Fu, USA, 2013, 13 min, 16mm transferred to video, color, sound

With fluorescent colors and vivid gradients, Victoria Fu’s Lorem Ipsum 1 experiments with moving image formats and software to create a hybrid film that’s compositionally playful and innovative. Fu’s experimentations with color, framing, and multiple image layers produce remarkable results; Lorem Ipsum 1 certainly is a standout piece of the 2014 NYFF Projections Program, and Victoria Fu is an contemporary artist to follow closely, simply because she continues to produce exciting and refreshing work.

 

Sone-SS-2014-Andrew-Norman-Wilson

Sone S/S 2014
Andrew Norman Wilson, USA, 2014, 11 min, video, color, sound

With Sone S/S 2014, Andrew Norman Wilson produces a conceptual video piece wherein a stationary camera surveils three different bank locations: the first sequence observes blue smoke pluming from a Chase Bank ATM; the second sequence monitors red smoke spreading from a Bank of America ATM; the third surveys green smoke rising from a TD Bank ATM. Smoldering smoke is colored-coordinated with the corporate colors of each bank; this provocative gesture is redolent of the US financial collapse of 2008, and the subsequent federal bailouts, along with the protests and activism that ensued.  A cryptically poetic voiceover ties these vivid images together, leading to the final act titled “Invisibility-cloaked hand gestures in offshore financial center jungle,” a longer sequence where invisible hand motions are superimposed atop of ferns, jungle treetops with monkeys, and the final images of foliage surrounding a waterfall, an image that appears so clean and sterile that might exist in a shopping mall.

 

Renaissance Centre Detroit Nicky Hamlyn

Renaissance Centre Detroit
Nicky Hamlyn, Canada/UK, 2012, 5 min, 16mm, color, silent

A simple, yet beautiful little film shot on 16mm, employing time-lapse exposures focused on the Detroit’s most iconic skyscraper, the Renaissance Centre, moving from day to night, through cloudy to sunny weather, as the electronic signage atop the GM Tower flickers between auto logos and baseball logos, typifying the substratum of american economics and culture.

 

Sound-of-My-Soul-Wojciech-Bakowski

Sound of My Soul
Wojciech Bakowski, Poland, 2014, 13 min, video, color, sound

Wojciech Bakowski’s Sound of My Soul employs animation, voiceover, music, and text to construct a strange, poetic, and presumably autobiographical piece that exists in the deep outer spaces of moving image-based art; it’s an estimably odd cinematic gem that one discovers and ponders; Bakowski’s experimentations with visual elements and composition produce satisfying results.

 

Blake-Williams-Red-Capriccio-1

Red Capriccio
Blake Williams, Canada, 2014, 7 min, video, color, sound

Composed of found footage, Blake Williams’ Red Cappriccio is an anaglyph film set in the colors of blue and red. Opening with a peculiar and prolonged sequence centered around the flashing blue and red lights of a police vehicle, the film moves onward across winding roads and freeways to arrive at the destination of an empty basement rave room with beaming lights, and then abruptly ends with an image of a police car spinning donuts on pavement. With Red Cappriccio, Williams assembles a stylized and dreamlike short film that feels like a prolonged alternative title sequence to the COPS television show of the ‘90s, or like a collection of stylized b roll from a “Don’t Drink and Drive” or “Don’t Do Drugs” PSA — and it works well for this very reason — its atypical structure and hazy automobile travel provide a joyride of escapism.

 

Seven-Signs-Sara-Magenheimer2

Seven Signs that Mean Silence
Sara Magenheimer, USA, 2013, 11 min, video, color, sound

A cryptic conversation between two computer voices anchors the fragmented structure of Sara Megenheimer’s Seven Signs that Mean Silence; it’s an experimental mnemonic device of video poetry that seemingly draws inspiration contemporary culture, digital art, and surrealist theory.

 

Mary-Helna-Clark-The-Dragon-is-the-Frame

The Dragon is the Frame
Mary Helena Clark, USA, 2014, 14 min, 16mm, color, sound

Mary Helena Clark’s The Dragon is the Frame is a moving image poem that floats around like a ghost or a free spirit, silently observing people, and stopping to stare at things. Its freeform structure enables it to jump around from place to place, with aesthetics bouncing from color saturated landscapes to moving patterns of houndstooth, from picturesque flowers to intimate moments of a young man styling his hair in the mirror as odd pop music plays. Moments with scrolling titles and voiceover ruminate over superficiality, fashion and society, and the film by and large pries into the ephemeral, ethereal, and emotional components of existence.

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