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2023 Program

Light Matter is Curated by James Hansen 

Program One: Transparence

Friday Nov. 3rd, 4:30PM

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ipse (I watched the Moon around the House)
Blanca García, Spain, 2022, 15 minutes
New York Premiere

Self-portrait, anchored in an imaginary tale — Emily Dickinson's 629 poem — where filming and editing enact a play between the immanence of recording and fictional embodiment. The narration of a visiting Moon, discovering her body, adventuring into a world of tactile light, as well as the soothing capture of oneself, appeased through the tangible reality of the indexical image and freed through imagination. A film about the mutable self, recognised only as reflection, as a glimpse — like the moon, like film itself — a fantasy perceived only if traversed by light and shadow, and yet never fully apprehended but as an instant, fleeting.

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Arash Akbari, Islamic Republic of Iran, 2023, 2 minutes
North American Premiere

Bec0m1ng speculates about a possible transcendental form of presence that can emerge from the causal freedom of probabilistic AI models. It consists of a digital environment with a fixed amount of matter and a group of AI agents. They have to collect and share the resources at the same time to keep the whole ecosystem in balance. This process enables a constant flux of becoming, formation, and transformation in which all is one. By prioritizing presence over cognition and logic, this project imagines a possible interaction of AI with the world, in which a non-dominant coexistence is established within an assemblage of everything. Inspired by Persian philosopher Suhrawardi’s Ishraqi doctrine, instead of material bodies (al-barzakh) that represent the mechanical appearance of the AI agents, the environment and the agents were designed using luminous forms (immaterial entities). As Suhrawardi argued that “beings can be distinguished by their degree of light, or otherwise of darkness. Light may be understood here as “existence” in the sense of actus essendi, whereby light is the only single reality. This identification of Light and Being is possible when light is understood as universal matter—material prima universalis.” The real-time virtual environment is an audio-visual interpretation of the presence of these non-human beings and an exploration of the emerging aesthetics of behavioural patterns that result from their active agency. The causal soundscape of the piece is a spatial composition that results from the motor activities of AI agents. This continuous becoming creates a speculative soundscape which can be defined as the territorialization of space by nonhumans. This posthuman soundscape is indifferent to human sensibilities and aesthetic apprehensions, yet there’s a potentiality “to intersect the decoded milieu of space with an anthropic ‘zone of residence’” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, 315). Bec0m1ng depicts this possible scenario through a dialectic process of alienation and sensibility. Encountering technological beings that function without human-imposed telos is alienating. While this alienation brings forth an act of presence that reveals Being to allow Dasein to experience it without objectifying it. References • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. R. Hurley, M. Seem, and H. R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. • Mahmoud, Samir. “From ‘Heidegger to Suhrawardi’: An Introduction to the Thought of Henry Corbin.” MPhil, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, England, UK, n.d.

The Enlightenment
Stephanie Barber, USA, 2023, 12 minutes
New York Premiere

THE ENLIGHTENMENT, s. barber 16mm, 2023 Listing dangerously into poetry, philosophy and sound art, Barber's new film (distributed by Video Data Bank) finds Yon and Payola in a Victorian conservatory. They are companionable, disoriented and petulant––they whip wildly through these disembodied states. Payola reads an excerpt of their experimental essay on the age of enlightenment. Payola's research, and presentation of this research, is a purposeful affront to empirical data, the scientific method and other enlightenment ideals, while reveling in the desire for the revolution and intellectual expansion those thinkers championed. The concepts are undermined by the form and register of their delivery OR the concepts are strengthened by the poetry through which they are presented. The soundtrack for The Enlightenment was originally commissioned by the Diffusion Festival for multi-channel sound work, curated by M.C. Schmidt for High Zero.

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Friedl vom Gröller, Austria, 2022, 3 minutes

“Als sie ertrunken war und hinunter schwamm von den Bächen in die größeren Flüsse" ["Once she had drowned and started her slow descent / Down the streams to where the great rivers broaden.”] In her touching, untrained voice, the filmmaker sings this Brecht/Weill song from the 1920s. No atmosphere, this song is happening in a different space. Plants on the shore, swayed by flowing water. The hand of the person filming holding the title ERTRUNKEN DROWNED. Friedl vom Gröller consistently crosses over the invisible wall between person recording and object/subject being filmed. Gestural. What connection, what dialogue materializes here during the filming, what acts of self-assurance, shared rhythm; what solution? 

The water is rapid, quickly becoming dangerous. Someone is floating there. A form, carried by the water, just as brief and momentary as the song’s detailed telling of the duration of decay. The water’s plasticity, a glimmering on the edge. The foam on the water forms moiré patterns, in movement and dissolution, while the song turns more and more to the body’s decomposition. Foam and fermentation, organic micro- and macrostructures, enzymatic processes. To speak of transience would be euphemistic. The (un)touchable unity of the body, inside and out. Materially and metaphysically.  In the end, Friedl vom Gröller appears in the final credits, her visage under water. (Madeleine Bernstorff)

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Alvin Nugroho, Indonesia, 2023, 2 minutes
North American Premiere

I made this just so you remember who you were dealing with.

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I Started Selling Sadness
Wayne Koestenbaum, USA, 2023, 3 minutes

I made this film with found (bleached, tampered-with, handpainted) 16mm footage, 16mm blank leader, and many collage elements. I scanned and digitized the handmade, spliced-together reel of 16mm film at Negativeland Film Lab in Brooklyn, NY, and then added a digital soundtrack.

Clear Ice Fern
Mark Street, USA​, 2023, 12 minutes

Images shot through architectural glass on Super 8 film in the dead of night in NYC. The title refers to one of the glass samples I used to frame up images of Times Square and other nightspots in NYC. The city peeks its head in as an off screen character, but the glass bends and twists it in its own warped and wonderful way.

Matt Whitman, USA, 2023, 8 minutes

Couldn't get things right I remember when the sound of the wind and the sound of you taking a shower could still be confused.

Perpetual Conjunction
Barbara Lattanzi, USA, 2023, 2 minutes
World Premiere

This simple film joins two fundamentally different spaces of movement and movement-perception. Through this stark contrast of modes of seeing, Perpetual Conjunction takes a look at looking.

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Luciana Decker, Bolivia, 2023, 8 minutes
New York Premiere

"Here between us, I want you to know the truth. There is in my sad loneliness desire to scream, run away, and ask what has happened to your life tuturururu". A collection of spring colors, food spoils, spoils of war, emptied creatures, and fossils. In-camera edit, a diary-like rhythm of first impressions of the US and its alienating culture.

It follows it passes on
Erica Sheu, Taiwan, 2023, 5 minutes

Incense yielded a little light and led the way to hide from the bomb. Broken dishes time travel. Imaginations of a post-war island, Kinmen, from familial anecdotes. Tracing the roots of cross-generational sentiments behind the glare of glasses, the display of a self-made museum. Lights reveal and conceal the stories.

Lisa Gwillam & Ray Sweeten (DataSpaceTime), USA, 2021, 10 minutes
North American Premiere

DataSpaceTime's WebGL moving image works are rendered in a browser environment using a custom built WebGL application. These WebGL works are procedural or “real-time” experiences, not timeline/keyframe animations. The works explore the effects of physicality and fragmentation in a virtual space, as well as the simulation of light, depth and scale. At times planetary and infinite, and at others claustrophobic and enclosed, the works demonstrate the expansive characteristics of the medium and the potential inherent in simulated perspectives. "Analogue" materials such as video files, jpegs, and Mp3 files integrate aspects of the physical world from outside the WebGL environment. When juxtaposed with the purely digital elements generated by the program, these additional materials significantly affect the illusion of scale and atmosphere as the viewer attempts to contextualize recognizable forms, patterns and texture against rendered ones. The WebGL works document the dialog between machine and artist, a collaboration to engineer the structure of the work and compose the final piece. Automation and randomization are an integral part of building the works which could not exist without the use of programmed tasks. Once these complex three-dimensional environments are realized, the artist's job of framing what is being generated in real time becomes integral to defining or emphasizing specific experiences. In the infinitely generating presentations of DST's WebGL work, a "camera" stands in for the artist’s point of view. The angles and trajectories of this virtual camera are predetermined by the artists and computed by the program. Palinopsia delves further into the use of the noise algorithm and its effects on the operation of the vertex shader within the WebGL environment. In this work, the algorithm disrupts a highly abstract object file of a piece of carpet fuzz. The effect blows the densely rendered vertices apart, creating abstract chaos, augmented further by interacting reflective geometries. This work also leverages a glitch discovered in the program which feeds the reflection back into the program creating a hall of mirrors effect. The artist-captured composition enhances the perspective and sense of scale which develops over the arc of the piece.

Lori Felker, USA, 2023, 20 minutes
New York Premiere

Fiction, reality, the private, and the performed overlap on a routine but emotional day at a medical center.

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