Microscope is very pleased to present an online screening of films and videos by LA-based, experimental filmmaker and artist Janie Geiser, including the premiere of her most recent work Reverse Shadow (2019) and the 40-minute series The Nervous Films, consisting of five works completed between 2009 and 2012.
Geiser’s cinema seems to be built on a mutual understanding between filmmaker and audience that there is no need to pretend what we see on screen is real, but rather is a sequence of two-dimensional images appearing within a flat rectangular surface. And in that case, why shoot the real world? Geiser’s worlds — meticulously composed on her animation stand and in no way less engaging and wondrous than real life — consist mostly of vivid paper cutouts, photographs, and other seemingly flat elements, brought to life by the artist through the magic of film animation.
The Nervous Films series includes four films shot with a 16mm Bolex camera — “Ghost Algebra,” “Kindless Villain,” “The Floor of the World,” and “Arbor” — as well as the video “Ricky,” incorporating imagery from medical illustrations, nature, found footage and objects, among others, photographed frame-by-frame and frequently superimposed in camera. The highly evocative, oneiric compositions often carry unsettling undertones, with associations to the world wars, power, anatomy of the human body, bingo cards, lost memories, and the anxiety of the passage of time.
Reverse Shadow, which concludes the night, was inspired by an actual dream and is permeated by an “atmosphere of suspended apprehension,” with scenes of hunters pointing at birds, WWII planes flying over red landscapes, and tumultuous rivers set to a soundtrack masterly collaged by the artist using fragments from Cold War’s number station broadcasts, an Edison audio recording of Irving’s story “Rip Van Winkle,” and other appropriated sound excerpts at times digitally reversed.
Geiser also redefines the shape of the imagery on screen by obscuring portions of the frame, often making visible only a narrow circular area surrounded by darkness, as though the audience were looking through a peephole or the viewfinder of a camera. This break with the traditional experience of moving image implies a sort of choreography of the audience’s gaze, now moving across the screen in order to follow and settle on its visible section.
Geiser will be available for a Q&A through live chat beginning at 8:30pm ET.
A “WATCH NOW” link will become available on this page by 7:15pm ET on Monday June 29th.
Passes for viewing can be purchased then, giving full access to video introduction, film program, and live Q&A.
General admission $8 (Valid through July 2, 10:30pm ET)
Member admission $6 (Valid through July 2, 10:30pm ET)
Janie Geiser is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice includes cinema, performance, and installation. Geiser’s work is known for its recontextualization of abandoned images and objects, its embrace of artifice, and its investigation of memory, power and loss. Geiser’s films have been screened at the National Gallery of Art, MOMA, LACMA, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, Pacific Film Archive, Wexner Center, Centre Pompidou, Strausbourg Museum, the British Film Institute, and at the New York Film Festival’s Projections, Toronto Film Festival’s Wavelengths, Hong Kong International Film Festival, London Internattional Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Olhar de Cinema (Brazil) and the Viennale, among others. Geiser’s film The Red Book was selected for the 2009 National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, and her films are in the collection at MoMA, New York. Geiser’s single and multi-channel installations have been presented in galleries from Los Angeles to Tokyo. A Guggenheim Fellow, Geiser’s work has been recognized with a Doris Duke Artist Award, an OBIE Award, and grants/fellowships from Creative Capital, the Rockefeller Foundation, NEA, Center for Cultural Innovation, The Jim Henson Foundation, MapFund and others. Geiser is a 2018 MacDowell Fellow. A pioneer of the renaissance of American avant-garde puppet theater, Geiser also creates innovative, hypnotic live performances that integrate performing objects and projection. Her performance works have been presented at The Public Theater, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Redcat, The Walker Art Center, and other venues. Geiser is a founder and co-director of Automata, an artist-run performance gallery in LA. She is on the faculty of the School of Theater at CalArts.