Sight Unseen presents Rituals Of Restoration: A program of moving image work by Steve Cossman

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Steve Cossman is founder and director of Mono No Aware; a nonprofit cinema arts organization whose annual event exhibits the work of contemporary artists who incorporate live film projections and altered light as part of a performance, sculpture or installation. In 2010 the organization established a series of analog filmmaking workshops, and has grown to include in their activities an equipment rentals program and an in-person screening series entitled Connectivity Through Cinema. Steve’s first major work on film, TUSSLEMUSCLE, earned him Kodak’s Continued Excellence in Filmmaking award and has screened at many festivals and institutions internationally. In 2013, he completed residencies at MoMA PS1’s Expo 1 and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto. He has been a visiting artist at Dartmouth, the New York Academy of Art, Yale, SAIC, and UPenn. Steve’s newest work on film, W H I T E C A B B A G E (2011-2014), a collaboration with Jahiliyya Fields of L.I.E.S., had its U.S. premiere at Anthology Film Archives. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn as a director, curator, visual artist and member of the collective DecayNY, creating time-based works on film, video, and paper.


'The world, on both the micro and macro level, is constantly moving within a framework of units. This irrepressible flux of time is the nexus of human experience and perception. Investigating the quantification of this motion through a reordering of various elements, I employ universally recognizable imagery within a patterned visual language. Often using time as a structure, the ‘natural’ rhythm of life is altered to create a resonating interval. This visual discord allows the viewer to reconsider established perceptual relationships. Materials for these works have been sourced from refuse and re-organized to speak to their own degradation.' - Steve Cossman

5 min / 16mm color / optical sound / 2007-2009 
Sound element by Earthen Sea (Jacob Long, Imminent Frequencies/Lover’s Rock)

The work presented is a reflection on humanity’s ecological relationship. The violent pulse speaks with a sense of urgency and chaotic struggle while the hypnotic arrangement keeps us in blinding awe us to its condition. The collage films are composed of 7,000+ single frames, which were appropriated from view-master reel cells. Each frame was hand-spliced to create a linear film-strip using musical and numerical patterns to compose visual rhythms. WHITE ROUGHAGE (below) is the raw optically printed footage used to create the companion piece to TUSSLEMUSCLE, W H I T E C A B B A G E .

12 min / 16mm color / optical sound / 2010 
Sound element by Daniel Caldas (ex. Black Eyes, Dischord Records) 

To expedite the transfer/loading speed of representational images online they are assigned a low resolution of 72 dpi. In the “de-res” process, a considerable amount of visual information is labeled unimportant and discarded by software. I worked with a programmer to create PHP code in order to read a thumbnail image from left to right, top to bottom, placing each pixel’s color as a full frame of the same color along the timeline. The sequence of frames plays out at 24 frames per second. In the same way that the persistence of vision creates the illusion of smooth linear movement in frame-by-frame animation, the mind is able to re-instate some of the lost visual/color information. Concurrently, the static composition of the photographic image dictates a pattern in time. A vertical line will appear at the same place in time repeatedly creating a “beat” while horizontal lines and forms become an undulation. Composition of form creates visual rhythm. 

12 min / Super 8mm color negative to DV / digital field recording sound / 2013
Sound performance element by Ei Wada, (Sony Music, Japan) 

A document of the environment created by artist Ei Wada. Wadasan re-wires obsolete Braun-tubed TVs to function like a theremin. Performing in the dark, he creates a unique audio/visual experience using VHS cassette tapes with distorted image output to control frequency and uses his own hands to control amplitude. I conducted an interview with Wadasan and filmed two performances; one in Germany, the other in Japan. Based on our conversations, I created this short piece that emphasized his grassroots approach to instrument making and reflected his own concepts about performance as art. The footage shot in Japan was captured during the last hour of signal broadcasting. 

5 min / 16mm color / digital sound / 2013 
Sound element by Ryan Marino (Remnants, Imminent Frequencies) 

3 min / 16mm color / silent / 2013

Silent motion studies.

10 min / 16mm color / digital sound / 2013 
Sound element by Jahiliyya fields (Matthew Morandi, L.I.E.S.)

For further details about Steve Cossman and/or MONO NO AWARE, please visit:

Presented by Sight Unseen




Friday, August 15, 2014 - 20:00
  • 1 W. North Avenue
    21201   Baltimore, Maryland
    United States
    39° 18' 38.6028" N, 76° 37' 0.0984" W