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2023 Program

Light Matter is Curated by James Hansen 

Program Five: Chaos

Saturday Nov. 4th, 4:30 PM

Growing Up Absurd
Ben Balcom & Julie Niemi, USA, 2022, 15 minutes

Growing Up Absurd is assembled from interviews conducted remotely with key members of the Tolstoy College community that speak to the ethos and history of the college, from its founding in 1969 to its dissolution in 1985. College F, known colloquially as Tolstoy College, was an anarchist educational community which operated within the University at Buffalo between 1969 and 1985. At once a sweeping portrayal of the college’s meeting places and the state of the campus today, Growing Up Absurd layers memories and traces of history to convey the lived experiences of its participants.

Mechanisms Common to Disparate Phenomena #59
Joost Rekveld, Belgium, 2023, 79 minutes
North American Premiere

#59 is an abstract animated science-fiction film that takes the experiences shared by humans and electronic circuits as its starting point. Our computing technology emerged during the Cold War as a byproduct of the development of atomic weapons and their associated planetary surveillance systems. In 1961, at what was perhaps the coldest point of this period, Edward Lorenz and Yoshisuke Ueda independently discovered deterministic chaos in their computers. In film #59, humans, aliens and electronic devices vacillate between these poles of a human fever dream of planetary control on the one hand, and lively machinic chaos on the other. All images in the film were produced as analog electronic signals, in a re-enactment of antiquated ways of computing. These signals were generated using period equipment, including an analog computer from 1963, early sonar and radar oscillators, and bits from military flight simulators. This film is an attempt to liberate these technologies from their problematic origins. Narrative elements derived from Cold War era science fiction films set the tone, while references to radar and television scanning result in images that evoke very early computer graphics. These progressively unfold into organic calligraphies, in which the negative space between the patterns becomes one of the protagonists. Resemblances with manmade phenomena are gradually left behind, and the film evolves into a nonverbal meditation on material processes and the arrow of time. What would circuits do without people?

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