Symmetries and abstractions: Films and videos by Scott Stark

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With Scott Stark in Person!

White Light Cinema is excited to welcome Scott Stark, who will present a small sampling of his film and video work. Stark has selected four new and recent works—Bloom (2012), Speechless (2008), the double 16mm film Nocturnal symmetries (2014), and his amazing digital video The realist (2013)—along with an early film, Hotel Cartograph (1983).

Together, these five works are a mapping of many diverse aspects of Stark’s artistic practice. From his formal investigations into symmetry, patterning, abstraction, and mirroring that can be found in many of his works to inquiries into the perceptual and phenomenological nature of the media (film, video, digital) to the act of seeing, and questions of representation. They are also visually rich works, concerned as much about color and texture as they are with structure. They are about rhythm and movement, either on screen or in the editing. Sometimes they are humorous. Sometimes they are political (in the broadest sense). Sometimes they are provocative/provoking. Always they are stimulating—visually and intellectually.

Over the last 34 years Stark has created an uncompromised body of work that is remarkable in its complexity and simplicity, its rigor and playfulness, and its focus and openness.

Programme:

- Hotel Cartograph (1983, 12 min, 16mm)
The movements across the 2-dimensional space, and in and out of elevators through 3-dimensional space, suggest a conceptual map of the visible environment, which is perhaps drawn by the camera itself. (SS)

- Bloom (2012, 11 min, Digital Video)
Industrial penetrations into the arid Texas landscape yield a strange and exotic flowering. Using images from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, based on oil drilling footage from the first half of the 20th century. (SS)

- Speechless (2008, 13 min, 16mm)
Sound by Greg Headley
3D photographs of human vulvae are animated and interwoven with surfaces and textures from natural and human-made environments. The genital images were taken from a set of ViewMaster 3D reels that accompanied a textbook entitled The Clitoris, published in 1976 by two medical professionals. (SS)

- Nocturnal Symmetries (2014, 12 min, 2x16mm)
Sound by Allison Leigh Holt with field recordings by Byram Abbott
Untethered in dream-like urban and natural landscapes, aggravated by artificial light, lost in the gap between imperfect symmetries. (SS)

- The Realist (2013, 36 min, HD Video)
Music: Daniel Goode, composer
The Realist is an experimental and highly abstracted melodrama, a "doomed love story" storyboarded with flickering still photographs, peopled with department store mannequins, and located in the visually heightened universe of clothing displays, fashion islands and storefront windows.
Stylistically, The Realist uses a technique I developed for my 2001 film Angel Beach, alternating between the left- and right-eye images of stereo 3D photographs. (The "Realist" was also the name of a popular stereo camera sold in the 1950s and 60s.) In The Realist, this alternating-image technique creates a flickering, trembling, dazzling trajectory through the worlds of department store displays and storefront windows. The constant flickering and rhythmic editing between scenes creates a visual tension that teeters on the edge of abstraction but never entirely loses its grounding in reality. The mannequins seem to be trying to wriggle themselves free from their predetermined poses, and mysterious, abstract shapes sometimes emerge out of the confusion of odd movements and juxtapositions.

A looping musical soundtrack (composer Daniel Goode's Tunnel-Funnel) punctuates the lyrical editing and drives the dramatic fluctuations.
The Realist is a soaring visual romp peppered with turgid melodramatic moments, flickering visual rhythms that border on abstraction, and seductive images of commercial products with their dubious promises of physical nourishment and fashionable allure. In the process, it examines our own relationship to consumerist culture: we see in these commercial displays idealized, pre-packaged renderings of our own needs, desires and identities. Perhaps on some level we, too, communicate and define ourselves in the same way that the mannequins do; we are what we buy. (SS)

About Scott Stark:
Scott Stark has produced more than 75 films and videos since 1980. Additionally, he has created a number of gallery and non-gallery installations using film and video, and elaborate photographic collages using large grids of images. Born and educated in the midwest, he has always been interested in aggressively pushing his work beyond the threshold of traditional viewing expectations, challenging the audience to question its relationship to the cinematic process; yet he also tries to build into the work elements of humor and incongruity that allow the viewer an entryway into the work while maintaining a critical distance. Both a passionate purist and a cynical skeptic, he likes to emphasize the physicality of film while cross-referencing it to the world outside the theater, attempting to lay bare the paradoxes of modern culture and the magical nature of the perceptual experience.

Scott's films and videos have shown locally, nationally and internationally, including […] one person shows at New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Pacific Film Archive. His films have won several awards including four Black Maria awards, and he recently received a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award. In 2007 Scott received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He has taught art classes at the San Francisco Art Institute (where he also received his MFA), interweaving non-traditional uses of film and video with a variety of art disciplines. Stark served for seven years on the board of the San Francisco Cinematheque, during which time, among many other things, he co-founded the Cinematheque's journal of film and media art, Cinematograph.

Scott has worked in a variety of motion picture media, including 8mm, super-8mm, 16mm and video. Several of his films introduced a novel technique where he ran movie film through a still camera, which, when projected, produces collage-like barrages of images and odd optically-generated soundtracks. He calls this series of films the Chromesthetic Response Series.

Scott makes his living as a computer programmer and support specialist for a large multi-national corporation. He currently lives in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the Flicker pages.

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Dates: 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 19:00

Venue: 

  • 1084 N. Milwaukee Avenue
    60642   Chicago, Illinois
    Estados Unidos
    41° 54' 5.4216" N, 87° 39' 49.5216" W