Essays

B-SIDES (The Absurdist’s Side Projects) – “DICK WHITE SPIRIT CHANNELER”

still from “Epti Spirit Channeling 2″ by Dick White

Creative impulsion is a common thread that The Absurdists featured on AVA all have in common.  It’s what drives them to continually pump out massive amounts of work usually unseen in the practice of “regular” artists. But it is also what leads many to go overboard;  creating in ways which stray them from the Absurdist Video Art side of things, in which they’re good at, and more at home with.

When they’ve immersed themselves fully in their usual outlets for creation, a holding capacity seems to be breached, and when that compulsion hits, then an overflow occurs.   They often find themselves blindly branching out to places they normally would never have bothered with, out of sheer compulsion to do so, rather than some sort of engineered “creative exploration”.

Just as water is poured into a glass reaching the rim to full capacity, it’s at this point the pouring needs to cease. But if there is a compulsion, if one cant’ help oneself, then the pouring will continue, and water will spill over the sides, down the exterior and onto a new surface, unfamiliar to the bubbled interior world of the original glass container.

This is how the Absurdist B Sides end up being created. They are works that have spilled over the sides and onto new surfaces, where a new audience resides. An audience which wouldn’t have been reached otherwise.  This new “audience” is forced, and sometimes fooled, into experiencing Absurdism in a different way or a different medium, usually more “accessible”. This exposure would have never been accomplished if the work remained inside the familiar glass. And in some cases the real satire is revealed as such, not in the work itself but in the reaction and comments about the work.

The irony is that The Absurdists didn’t intend to “reach a new or different audience.” They basically were just restless.  In some cases, instead of setting up lights and gathering the usual co-conspirators to create, they simply pull the trigger on a cheap webcam, and warp into some other world.  In other cases they choose to create in an entirely different medium altogether. And in others the medium and the set ups are the same, but the theme and content are completely different, usually in response to something.

Here is the first round of B-sides from AV artists who’ve overflowed into different territories or immersed themselves onto different mediums.

DICK WHITE EPTI

With constant filming, writing, and editing, you’d think this American Films/Collapse co-founder would have his plate full. But somehow his compulsion for Absurd expression, spilled over and gave birth to Dick White, a mystical “medium” average joe who’s been chosen by “the other side” to communicate important cryptic messages like, everyone should start wearing yellow. 

This webcam based creation spurred thousand of views, all emanating from a new surface. And in turn it spawned dozens of comments, both siding with Dick, empathizing with his new found gift as a medium, and those who became furious with Dick, calling him out as a fraud with bad editing skills.

You are so gifted. I pray for the power to do this..

I do mediumship, this makes me want to vomit. I have had spirits come to me, and never was I not myself. never had I channeled to have to speak to them. this is ridicioulous.

Do you realise what a complete and utter fool you have made yourself look. You tried one of the most amateurish attempts at ‘attention seeking’ that i have ever seen. You dont even know how to operate editing software. BUSTED.

Watch as “Dick” responds to the negative comments received in the first video, while attempting to further convince the new audience of his channeling skills, as a strange image emerges after the 3 minute mark and he instructs followers to partake in a 3 day fast.

Bro, i dont know if you reviewed this video before uploading it and shit, but around 3:30 or so theres some sorta something hovering to your right side..its like your image and shit and its like your tryin to get the fuck away from the epti dude who’s taken over your body and all that..crazy shit man!

 

Hi Dick, thankyou for living your truth. It takes much to trust as you have done. Please do not look at people’s comments as to how consciousness is shifting from these channelings. don’t make assumptions. The toning was great, integral part of the energetic activations occurring. All I can feel from the Epti energy is love, wisdom eagerness. Consciousness is very layered, multidimensional and profound, and not linear. Having said that it’s also very simple as Epti’s instructions are.

 

ur touched in the head mate :| see a docter mayb??

SICK AND TWISTED – Strong Sign for a Renewed Decade of The Underground

Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation

I closed off 2011 with the last film festival viewing being that of the long running “Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.”  Short animated works by a variety of filmmakers who set out to shock, gross out, and ensue hilarity through their creations.

While most of our Absurdist artists here are more the type to use a long screwdriver and slowly churn the screw to produce a form of twisted absurdism that fucks with the head in a subtle but strong way, the spike/mike animators will just use a power drill, driving in the screw direct to produce a quick and easy shot of twisted absurdity. The kind you don’t have to think much about. It’s shit/piss/and penis filled material and that’s how it should be for their form of not always easy, but at least quickly digestable, cinema. And it was a huge relief to see that the animation did actually deliver on the sick and twisted front in the latest Spike and Mike installment, which closed out 2011, opening up hope for a twisted cinematic 2012 and beyond.

The last time I went to a Spike and Mike festival was probably a decade or so ago. And it sucked. I remember one guy in the audience would actually stand up after several of the shorts finished and yell aloud: “THAT WAS NOT SICK, NOR WAS IT TWISTED!”  And the rest of the audience agreed. Much of the work felt mainstream and you wondered what the hell these shorts were doing in the festival.

The selection process seemed to mirror the times and the attitude of alternative cinema everywhere. This was a time, a decade or so ago, when underground cinema seemed to be dying on all fronts. At the usual so called “alternative” film festivals it was “mumblecore” that was being touted as the new underground. A hipster/poser cinema movement where the message was basically the celebration of hipster/poser’ism.  Online works by outsiders, weirdos, and up/coming cinematic deviants were being ignored. No one really knew how to handle the technology from Digital Video to eventually YouTube, so a wave of mediocrity swept through screening venues and festivals which were once home to more transgressive works. The early 2000’s laid the cement down for nearly a decades worth of venue fluff.

But the much needed cracks in the concrete have been forming over the last few years. And now, sprouting up from the cracks, is a new wave of twisted transgressiveness many artists, and audiences, have been yearning for.

Watching the latest Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation reminded me of shows from the late 90’s, when underground works were still being produced and celebrated on screen. I actually took note at the end of each film to see the production date, as if having to blink twice making sure these indeed were new works, and then surprised that, yes, most I noted were.

As mentioned things have been picking up for the underground. And this latest Sick and Twisted fest convinces me further that the lamecore movement of the past decade has in fact died, and we are at the beginning of a new decade of true, new underground works both in the “long screw” artistic Absurdism celebrated on this site, as well as the straight up screw, shit-piss and penis underground.

 

BoydsBrain – Appropriation and the New Art Education

Still from “Super Mario Clouds” by Cory Arcangel – “a digital artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. His work is concerned with the relationship between technology and culture, and with media appropriation.  Arcangel’s best known works are his NINTENDO game cartridge hacks and reworkings of obsolete computer systems of the 70’s and 80’s.”

A latest blog entry (re-posted below) from Andy Heck Boyd is a good inside glimpse of not only what’s been swirling  around boyds brain as of late, helping to inspire and self educate through the exploration of both past and current experiments;  but also how one experiences online art in a way one experiences gallery art, in the sense of that “feel” you can still get when you come across a particular work from your computer screen that does it for you.

He starts out by bringing attention to recent  simple appropriation from video games to popular animation, which both receive viewer comments from: “What an utterly lazy piece of pretentious garbage” to the usual “this is just awful”.  Boyd shines his own light on the works.

Finally he concludes with the online site source Ubu.com, which it seems he has discovered just recently.  What is interesting here is his admittance of “lack of art education”, and the effort to have to dig everything up.  But really a site like ubu, and the internet in general, can far surpass most kinds of traditional art education.  The key as he put it, is having to dig it all up;  i.e applying the time and effort, not towards an institution classroom (and the mountain of debt required to enter such a classroom), but rather an individual learning, taking the time and patience to do so and reaping the reward of surprise as a result.

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Fine Art Film Note may/10   -Heck Boyd-

i think the video i think of the most the past few weeks is ‘clouds’ by cory arcangel,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkkJaqBbXV8

Makes me smile and excited, because its fairly new discovery for me. Very simple effective. very different in opening new ways of looking at video making. i like moving pictures, just pictures brought to life with motion in specific viewing areas (tvs/computers), to put it simply. it doesnt have to be anything, just something that challenges me at how i look at the medium. push things forward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6HwSq3sp8o
bart the general series done by famicon is another personal favorite ive been obsessed with lately. i have downloaded the six separate episodes off youtube and have edited them and burned to dvd as one 42 minute movie.

http://www.ubu.com/film/gidal_upside.html
peter gidal, who ive never heard of until today seems to have blown my mind with a feature he did in 1967 called ‘upside down feature’, where the whole film is upside down. this is very exciting, ill watch it tonight.

http://www.ubu.com/
a site i found while looking for paper rads other video works. its a media art site, poetry, film and video, music etc. well i found the paper rad videos, i think four of them. trash talking, dr doo in fucland, smells like burnt speaker, p-unit mixtape, and super mario brothers movie. i snapped them up for my collection. then i perused around and discovered hundreds of fine art filmmakers from the last century into this one, and its mind boggling what i’ve found so far. and i’ve only looked at a dozen different people at random, so it will be extremely interesting to see what else is there.

i’ve never really had a good art education, so i am not fully aware of any other major artists, i have to dig to find them. which is fine, its a new surprise when you discover something! so this site is also a great find if you are into film as fine art, as opposed to hollywood which isn’t experimental in the least bit. anyways

AMERICAN FILMS : Market Penetrations from the Obscure Absurdists

I first came across American Films around 5 years ago.  Their films were some of the best shot, best visually looking works online;  not to mention some of the most absurdist character pieces out there.  Their early characters ranged from avant garde versions of the Trailer Park Boys to religious fanatical freaks to hopeless fruitcakes and fuck-ups; plus weirdos, wingnuts and  washed up cocaine nose candied 80’s icons.

Somehow I missed these guys on the usual underground screening and festival circuit of the time.  Or so I thought.  When I emailed them years ago, asking where their work was showing, and had showed (festivals, screenings, etc.) the response to me was a shocker.   Essentially nowhere.   Online was their main home.

This was one of the first major signs that I realized how asleep at the wheel film and video programmers had become.  Every experimental/underground/counter-current/alternative film and video curator should have been emailing these guys, requesting work to screen.

Instead, as their work continued to amass, it continued going virtually unnoticed in all the traditional alt. screening outlets.  Yet blowing away all the content that all the traditional alt. screening outlets were showing.

Eventually screenings did pop up, but it wasn’t the curators responsible for them.  It took other artists to point out  American Films  and actually show the work themselves.  I tracked down a screening in Hollywood around 2006 put on by stage performer/actress and Mel Brooks favorite Ann Randolph who showcased an American Films piece called “Peggy” at one of her events.  A few other screenings and small festivals followed, but in the rosters of the usual spots where odd/avant/experimental film and video was normally shown, work from the AF troupe was noticeably absent.

Meanwhile AF continued to pump out more and more work; the productions bigger with what looked like upgraded sets, along with characters more developed and of course, pieces even more absurd.  There was even rumor of a feature film that had been shot and possibly completed, but nothing has surfaced as of yet.

In any event, some major penetrations have been fornicated forth by American Films thus far in 2010.   Some very good actors seem to have joined the group and possibly some added talent behind the camera and in the editing room.  The group has been participating in live shows and screenings, and online their work continues to grow.

Their latest focus  revolves around the advertising/marketing racket.  And it’s starting to gain traction.  A sort of underground minor viral send around seems to be occurring with their latest piece, ridiculously titled “Get Ready to Shift the Paradigm on Your Corporate Branding and Marketing”.

Shot in infomercial style, the piece satirically nails the heavy loaded bullshit dished out by the marketing guru firms, but goes well beyond your typical mock up hit job.  An unexpected character break down occurs near the end, and we are granted the coveted answer to the most common question of all time regarding these real life marketing machines, “do they really believe their own bullshit?”

Hopefully American Films will stick with the absurdism of the corporate marketing machine theme for a while,  giving us more pieces nailing the catastrophe and collapse of American culture aided by the polluted marketing mindset of how to turn human beings into branded brainwashed useless consumers.

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AMERICAN FILMS new online YT account with their latest films can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanFilmsDotCom

Older works - http://www.youtube.com/user/cbengine

And the latest masterpiece:

“Get Ready to Shift the Paradigm on Your Corporate Branding and Marketing”

The Lost Decade of Alternative Film and Video – 2000-2010

http://www.vistek.ca/buyingguides/camcorders/images/questionmark.jpg

The Lost Decade of Alternative Film and Video – 2000-2010

By Ferguson Ulrich

I recently noticed a new book on Amazon entitled, Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000 by Steve Seid. The end of this title spoke volumes - “1945-2000″.

The book is available only for “pre-order”. Meaning it hasn’t even been released yet, which assumes the writing is fairly recent. Thus the glaring absence being: what about the last decade? If you’re going all the way back to ’45, why not bring it in as current as possilbe, say, at least, 1945-2005, making it a full 60 years.

This glaring absence is of particular note due to the obvious non recognition that has occurred in regards to alternative film and video of this last decade. And it is not specific to San Francisco.

The book seems to be compiled of various authors, each contributing a section based on their expertise/experience. Some authors are divided into specific years, i.e “Cecilia Dougherty on video in the 1980s and 1990s”. Yet that’s where it stops for decade coverage.

The cut off date for this book is possibly, if not likely, the result of the following: A lack of not being able to properly define the last decade of alternative cinema.

Up until the late 90’s it was easy. The formula was the same. The establishments were in place. In order to find out who’s (supposedly) relevant you look to see who the festivals are playing, who’s being written about in the usual avant circles, who’s getting the grants, who’s being recommended by who, etc., etc.

But then with the late 90’s into the ’00’s came digital video. The old guard became confused, resistant. Video art was threatened by mounds of new work coming down the pike, many of which blew away what the established video artists had made, were making. The experimental festivals refused to show digital, and contributed to fueling the infamous online “film vs. DV” debate, swearing that this DV thing was just a fad, wouldn’t last, couldn’t hold up to quality issues and so forth.

Of course, they were completely, and embarrassingly, wrong. DV not only lasted, not only produced amazing quality works, but gave birth to the even better HD video. This denial held back many alternative works from being seen and recognized.

The 2000’s then brought another cluster bomb – online video. Now work could be seen online and viewed by hundreds, even thousands, potentially millions, as opposed to the at best 30-100 people an experimental screening would seat. This completely new, incredible shift in alternative film and video art viewing was another confusion for the nostalgic old school avant clans who thought if they just ignored it, it would go away. But again, they needed to state their 2 cents:

“It’s just a fad”. “No one is going to watch films on their computer.” “It’s too slow and the quality is much too low”.

Of course, they were completely, and embarrassingly, wrong. Watching media of all type from computers grew enormously. The speed increased to the point of zero download time. And the quality improved dramatically, with even YouTube now having an HD option.

Many of the already established alternative film and video artists heavily dissed sites like YouTube at the time, refusing to sign up for a free account while acting as if they were somehow “above it all”.

Of course today they all have YouTube accounts, and are posting their work online.

The technology basically blurred everything. The so called avant garde alternatives from all corners were no longer the “ahead of the curve” counter currents they sometimes high browed themselves as being. They were stuck in nostalgia land, unwilling to move forward and redefine the avant garde.

They didn’t know how how to deal with it (and still don’t). Their denial, their fumbling around resistance and refusal held everything back, creating for perhaps the first time in cinema history a blank page for an entire decade in regards to the recongnition of new alternative works.

The best anyone could come up with as far as “a movement” of people working in alternative/avant garde DV cinema in this last decade, was the “mumblecore” movement. Again, that being the best that is being represented speaks volumes on the lack of effort from the alternative corners to discover, push and promote the new amassing works of alternative cinema that was gushing out from the cracks.

There’s differing blame to go around, but a lack of alternative works is certainly not to blame. Such an inevitable excuse will emerge, perhaps from curators claiming their snail mail submissions had dropped, of course having no clue as to why.

It’s been the complete opposite. Avant garde has grown. It’s the old guard AG boredoms who’ve withered away in their nostalgia. Their pomp and film fetish arrogance no longer relevant. Their track record smeared with “wrong, again!“. And their particular blame likely to go down unnoticed, just as the last decade goes down unnoticed; unable to be defined. Unable to find an author to tackle that ’00-’10 period which likely created five times the visual works than the alt cinema of ’45-’99, combined.

Ferguson Ulrich writes for and curates work online at http://AbsurdistVideoArt.com

The new avant garde working in the absurdist video vein is represented at
http://AbsurdistVideoArt.com for more.

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