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A Lower World: Excesses and Extremes in Film and Video

  • Gallery Exhibition
  • Open to Sunday Nov. 30, 6pm
  • Pixel Gallery, 156 Augusta Ave.

Part of Fall 2008 - A Lower World

Media Works:

Monster Movie, Takeshi Murata, 2005, 4 min. single-channel video on monitor, looped playback with sound

Takeshi Murata produces abstract digital works that refigure the experience of animation. Creating Rorschach-like fields of seething color, form and motion, Murata pushes the boundaries of digitally manipulated psychedelia. With a powerfully sensual force that is expressed in videos, loops, installations, and electronic music, Murata’s synaesthetic experiments in hypnotic perception appear at once seductively organic and totally digital. In Monster Movie Murata employs an exacting frame-by-frame technique to turn a bit of B-movie footage (from the 1981 film Caveman) into a seething, fragmented morass of color and shape that decomposes and reconstitutes itself thirty times per second. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix.

Up and Away, Michael Bell-Smith, 2006, 7 min. projected, single-channel video loop with sound

“Michael Bell-Smith operates in the gap between animated cartoons and painting with unusual effectiveness […] their main concerns are color, space and light, tweaked and amplified by digital technology and restrained animation. Up and Away scrolls through an encyclopedic array of panoramic horizons – city skylines, deserts, mountains, castles, forests, oceans – that conjure up dozens of movie genres but are actually downloaded from video games (and are so coarsely pixilated they seem Pointillist, or knitted). Now it is the viewer who goes nowhere: space is deep but never penetrated. It’s like watching a deck of cards being shuffled: pick a landscape, any landscape. Mr. Bell-Smith brings new and old and static and mobile into a promising, visually enthralling alignment.” (Roberta Smith, The New York Times). Courtesy of Foxy Production.

The American Desert (for Chuck Jones), Mungo Thomson, 2002, 34 min. single-channel video projected, looped playback with sound

Thomson’s video is a fat-free version of the Wild West legend – more than thirty minutes of desolate and colourful comic deserts from Warner Brothers Studios, in shifting crops and perspectives. Protagonists and narratives excised, the desert scenes mimic landscape painting. Mostly static, there are only oblique traces of the mayhem that we are used to seeing unfold in these unforgiving wastelands: a train rushes by, we hear rocks tumble down a cliff, a waterfall. As a tribute to Chuck Jones, the meditative landscapes from The American Desert also focus attention on the production and iconography of mass media images, how they influence our everyday perceptions, and how they’ve become an indispensable part of Western cultural history. Courtesy of John Connelly Presents.

Untitled (Working Title Kids & Dogs), Nathalie Djurberg, 2007, 33 min. two-channel video on LCD monitors, looped playback with headphones

Untitled (Working Title Kids & Dogs) is a claymation animated film consisting of two scenes: the first shows an army of children at war with a pack of dogs on the streets of a large city; the second, a hospital where the wounded have been brought for treatment. The beat of a bass drum played by two live drummers outfitted in military marching band costumes will be heard throughout the film. Sounds and noises on the soundtrack, including crunching cereal and squeaking dog toys, are played in sync with the images of marching children, crying patients, and firing machine guns. Putting an abject twist on the traditionally innocuous medium of stop-motion clay animation, Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg spins narrative tales of sadism, molestation, eroticism and transgression, all set to whimsical music-box soundtracks. Courtesy of Zach Feuer Gallery.

Journey to the Lower World, Marcus Coates, 2004, 30 min. single-channel video on monitor, looped playback with headphones

Journey to the Lower World is a video document of a shamanic performance by Marcus Coates, after a traditional Siberian Yakut ritual, in the front room of a Liverpool tower block that was scheduled for demolition. The audience of bemused residents fought to suppress their giggles as Coates, dressed in the skin of a red deer, began by vacuuming and spitting water onto the carpet, then emitting feral whistles, grunts and barks as he entered the “lower world.” Despite his audience’s obvious skepticism (of both shamanism and of the contemporary art world), the question they asked Coates about the lower world was sincere and unguarded: ‘Do we have a protector for this site? What is it?’ […] Coates has said that often the most valuable thing that comes out of such performances is the audience’s sense that they are being listened to. (Frieze Magazine) Courtesy the artist.

Killing Friends, Julian Hoeber, 2001, 31 min. single-channel video on LCD monitor, looped playback with headphones accompanied by a set of Polaroid photographs

In his photographs and visceral narrative videos Julian Hoeber strategically alludes to a smart range of historical influences, from French new wave cinema to transgressive literature to violent B movies. Yet Hoeber’s clinical approach to his subjects – alienation from one’s peers and society’s increasing inability to communicate – is anything but nostalgic. “At once deadpan and demented, troubling and arch, whip-smart and hilarious, Killing Friends is the result of an original vision. It tells the story of a serial killer whose antics are both gruesome and touching. Impossible twists with delicious details complicate a narrative riddled with logical impossibilities and emotional conundrums. Scenes filled with unspeakable cruelty segue gracefully into moments of unbelievable gentleness.” (David Pagel, Los Angeles Times). Courtesy Blum & Poe.

Beg for Your Life, Laurel Nakadate, 2006, 13 min. single-channel video on LCD monitor, looped playback with headphones
Where You’ll Find Me, Laurel Nakadate, 2005, 4 min. single-channel video on LCD monitor, looped playback with headphones

Laurel Nakadate finds lonely, deadbeat men in parks, on street corners and at truck stops, lures them back to their apartments, and involves them in an innocent romp of role-play. In Beg For Your Life, Nakadate stages homicidal encounters with anonymous men she met on a cross-country road trip. The video jumps from scenes of Nakadate as prey and Nakadate as predator. In one scenario, she holds a gun to the head of a recoiling victim, and in another, she lies half-dead on an unkempt bed with a delusional trucker. In Where You’ll Find Me, Laurel Nakadate acts out suicide scenarios: we see her “dead” in various locales. She represents primal neediness, the fantasy of “They’ll know how much they love me when I’m gone.” Then out of nowhere and completely anomalously, she comes close to the camera, looks from side to side, pulls her shorts to the left, stands, and pees while looking directly at you. Courtesy the artist.

 

Journey to the Lower World
Killing Friends - Julian Hoeber
Killing Friends - Julian Hoeber
Killing Friends - Julian Hoeber
Laurel Nakadate
Laurel Nakadate
Laurel Nakadate
Laurel Nakadate
Laurel Nakadate
Monster Movie - Takeshi Murata
Mungo Thomson - The American Desert for Chuck Jones
Mungo Thomson - The American Desert for Chuck Jones
Mungo Thomson - The American Desert for Chuck Jones
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
Nathalie Djurberg
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Up and Away
Up and Away
Up and Away
Up and Away
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