Spectrology

May 11th – Velvet of Night: Kerry Laitala in Person

May 11th, 2014
@ 29th Street Ballroom (map)
6pm
$8 / ERC Pass

Add to Calendar 05-11-2014 18:00:00 05-11-2014 20:00:00 11 Velvet of Night: Kerry Laitala in Person The lustrous works of Kerry Laitala are journeys into realms where buoyant spirits commingle with fiery forces of nature. From the lush poetics of her early works such as Retrospectroscope and Secure the Shadow, to her complex, often troubling investigations into the relationship between consciousness, identity and the human body (Hallowed, Conquered, Awake But Dreaming), to her playful reveries on early cinema (Torchlight Tango, The Muse of Cinema series), to her most recent work, bridging precinema technologies with digital renderings in eye-popping 3D Chromadepth (Chromatic Cocktail, Afterimage: Flicker of Life), Kerry’s work revels in the magic of the moving image. Working with equal dexterity in film, video, installation and live performance, Kerry Laitala’s work is a panchromatic celebration for the eyes, ears, heart and psyche. Experimental Response Cinema presents a very special evening of work with the artist in person! 2906 Fruth St, Austin, TX 78705 Experimental Response Cinema admin@ercatx.org https://www.facebook.com/events/1422518681340955/ false MM/DD/YYYY

The lustrous works of Kerry Laitala are journeys into realms where buoyant spirits commingle with fiery forces of nature. From the lush poetics of her early works such as Retrospectroscope and Secure the Shadow, to her complex, often troubling investigations into the relationship between consciousness, identity and the human body (Hallowed, Conquered, Awake But Dreaming), to her playful reveries on early cinema (Torchlight Tango, The Muse of Cinema series), to her most recent work, bridging precinema technologies with digital renderings in eye-popping 3D Chromadepth (Chromatic Cocktail, Afterimage: Flicker of Life), Kerry’s work revels in the magic of the moving image. Working with equal dexterity in film, video, installation and live performance, Kerry Laitala’s work is a panchromatic celebration for the eyes, ears, heart and psyche. Experimental Response Cinema presents a very special evening of work with the artist in person!

“The films of Kerry Laitala evoke a glowing world in which spirits, memories and moldering artifacts swirl into feverish dreams recalling gothic conditions of poetry and decay. Seeming to hover on the borders between life and death, madness and sanity, these haunting alchemical films raise the dead from long slumbers to become luminous phantoms of flickering cinema.”  – Steve Polta, San Francisco Cinematheque

“The brilliant experimental filmmaker Kerry Laitala is a conjurer, summoning vestigial image-remnants from ancient films and, applying her singular skills in divine manipulation, evoking the fantastical world of jagged dreams, faded realities, and shadowy fairy tales. Working with the endangered material of celluloid, she constructs handcrafted gems that explode with fantastical associations. The great contradiction embodied in her oeuvre is precisely what makes her such a singular, important artist: She devotes endless, painstaking hours to works for transient, temporal movie-going experiences. Laitala will never be co-opted or corralled by any latter-day animation companies. After all, what do they know about film?” – SF Weekly

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This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

 

Program

The Adventure Parade
5 min / 16mm / silent / 2000
The Adventure Parade is a hand processed film that deals with the nature of using found images self-reflexively calling attention to the re-framing imprint of the filmmaker serving to reveal the duplicitous nature of the material. The inherent violence that is hinted at lies beyond the threshold of understanding, and only offers clues of past interventions.

Out of the Ether
11 min / 16mm / sound / 2003
Out of the Ether is a hand crafted 16mm film composed on the optical printer and toned to bring out pulsating hues of oozing greens and yellows. Out of the Ether poses the following questions: “What do we leave behind? Are institutional forces using our hysteria to reap the benefits of possible infection? Whose environment could we possibly be affecting? What unseen forces would unscrupulous beings want to use to infiltrate our bodies and perhaps our consciousness? Who is the enemy? Out of the Ether unleashes upon an unsuspecting audience septic musings about fear in the guise of microbial menace and mayhem.

Retrospectroscope
16mm / silent / 1997
The “Retrospectroscope” apparatus has gone through many incarnations; its presence belies the processes that have created it. As a paracinematic device, it traces an evolutionary trajectory, encircling the viewer in a procession of flickering fantasies of fragmented lyricism. The “Retrospectroscope” is a reinvention that simulates the illusion of the analysis of motion to recall early mysteries of the quest for this very discovery now taken for granted. The “Muses of Cinema” represented by the female figures on the disk, have emerged from a dark Neoclassical past. Streams of images revolve around, in an attempt to harness notions of a cinematic prehistory tracing past motions and gestures to burn their dance on the surface of the retinas. This film known as the Retrospectroscope, and was described in the San Francisco Bay Guardian as “A spinning flashing UFO/roulette wheel of Athenian proportions.”

Hallowed
11 min / 16mm / sound / 2002
Hallowed is a 16mm film that portrays a mystical voyage made back in time by an unconscious woman in the throes of a cataleptic state. She finds herself in Plato’s cave where flickering flames incite a prehistoric cinematic reverie evoking an experience of magical proportions. She is a spectral being who is transformed from within as viewers witness a chasm between the physical self and psychical self become one. Her internal state is evoked through a chromatically textural metamorphosis that plays across her visage as she transcends the pain inflicted from an unknown source. Flames of purification melt away layers of trauma, and send the dislocated psyche back into the realm of the present as an integrated self. “Hallowed” evokes a transcendent state that could only be traversed and negotiated through the ritual contemplation of the elusive pictograms and archaic petroglyphs on the cave wall, as the realm of cinema becomes an antidote for the emptiness of earthly existence.

Secure the Shadow… ‘Ere the Substance Fade
9 min / 16mm / sound / 1997
Secure the Shadow is a meditation on disintegration and mortality. The film utilizes antique Medical stereoscopic images from the Victorian era, which are simultaneously disturbing and beautiful. The filmmaker’s intention is to reveal universal truths about the overwhelming quality of disease to render us ultimately mute, immobilized within a corporeal shell that has succumbed to imminent forces beyond our control. The filmmaker also wants the film to address the myth that dignity is automatically restored upon the visage when facing death. In analyzing the original function of the stereoscopic images, the filmmaker intends to expose their classificatory nature. These anonymous subjects were reduced to paradigms of pathology, embalmed in time within their exterior presence. By re-photographing them on the optical printer and placing them in a mythical home, the filmmaker endeavors to re-animate these visages to ensnare them, or allow them to roam free on the surface of celluloid. Absence transforms to presence as the latent image reveals the manifest content, the slippery territories in between unraveling like the threads joining the crazy quilt that connects images together. An anachronistic Victorian sensibility places the images in a chimerical, historical context that embodies the film with a mind that is paradoxical and alien to our modern day perspective. The title “Secure the Shadow…’Ere the Substance Fade, let nature imitate what nature has made”, comes from a Nineteenth century post mortem photographer who advertised his services. This reference speaks about the function of photography as a democratizing medium that assists in the process of mourning and serves as a physical reminder of loss.

Conquered
15 min / 16mm / sound / 2000
Filmed entirely at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, this film comes from the depths of a submerged self. The filmmaker incorporated her own imagery with found material from German industrial films, most notably a film about a youth prison. These images were fused with images from a film brought from the United States entitled The Epic of Everest summarizing an attempt to reach the mountain’s summit by George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924. Mallory’s body was just recently discovered below the North face. Killed after a fall, his innards were subsequently eaten out by Goraks. Amidst the controversy of whether Mallory made the summit or not, the filmmaker’s intent in using the Everest imagery was to describe a feeling of a frozen landscape as emotional state. As she was awestruck at its extreme beauty and chill, she felt that it perfectly portrayed an immobilized, catatonic state analogous to the darkness, and the snow covered quietude. As matter becomes transformed into a morass of material incoherence, the filmmaker wants the viewer to become lost in the imagery, and to feel as though he/she is dangling precariously over the edge of a precipice. She merged the materials: celluloid base with alchemically, manipulated surface and found a way to crack the emulsion to yield a fragile, encumbered palate- a veritable testament to the forces of organic catalysts in motion.

Conjuror’s Box
6 min / digital / silent / 2013
New digital transfer of a 35mm film.
Through the looking glass one travels and becomes immersed in a fiery pane of hand-painted wonders. Conjuror’s Box summons forth primordial images of beauty from the hand painted imagery to images of transformation, metamorphosis, and chimera to literary and even ancient, biblical references. The fiery hole becomes a mirror fusion of past and future deaths.
“Mene mene tekel upharsin”:
(“The hand writing on the wall” ) is written on one of the magic lantern slides:
I used this idiomatic expression as a portent alluding to the demise of 35mm film. As Conjuror’s Box was made and finished on celluloid material, this small section of the film is a harbinger of doom for the flickering material. When I started this film in 2006 and shot the slide, it was less apparent that the loss of celluloid would occur quite as rapid as time has proven that it would occur.

Spectrology
11 min / 16mm / sound / 2009
In 1646, Kircher published Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae, on the subject of the display of images on a screen using an apparatus similar to the magic lantern as developed by Christian Huygens. Using this apparatus as a tool to enchant, spellbind and spook, Paul de Philipsthal, Robertson and other conjurors dazzled spectators with their unique bag of 18th Century tricks, raising up the spirits of recently deceased and reminding the viewer of the “fate that awaits us all”. Spectrology calls upon conjurors of the past and their secret repertoire of magical devices to simulate a modern rendition of the phantasmagoria. The medium of cinema is harnessed to entice the viewer and ruminate on the mesmerizing presence of various illusions made anew.

Velvet of Night
12 min / 16mm expanded cinema work / sound on Ipod / 2012
Moving Image by Kerry Laitala, Sound by John Davis
An Ode to Carl Sagan, this work is comprised of a series of interventions that bring a telescopic view of the planetarium to the surface of celluloid. An Aurora Borealis fans its luminous waves on the screen as constellations emerge from the chaos.
This has been performed at the following festivals/Venues: Shapeshifters, Oakland, CA, The Maine International Film Festival, Waterville, Maine, The European Media Arts festival (EMAF) and at Dennison University, Granville, Ohio.

Bio

Kerry Laitala grew up on the Maine coast, while developing a chronic passion for old things. She attended Massachusetts College of Art studying Photography and Film and received her Masters degree from the San Francisco Art Institute in Film. She has been awarded the Princess Grace Award in 1996, and the Special Projects Grant from PGF in 2004 and 2007.
In 2011, Laitala finished the hand made, hand processed films entitled the “Muse of Cinema Series” with a flashlight in her studio. This film artist uses the “Muse Series” to directly address the audience by re-animating Magic Lantern slides from the early years of cinema and before the birth of cinema as we know it. By incorporating them into a cinematic collage, the works pay homage to magicians of an earlier age who thrilled audiences with their spectral displays. Her work has been screened internationally and in the celestial ether which connects us with the music of the spheres.
Laitala has now expanded her terrain to work in a series of light/ motion/color experiments called the Chromatic Cocktail Series. She has recently collaborated with Wobbly for the Chromatic Cocktail Work Afterimage: A Flicker of Life. Several of these works have screened in Europe and she is currently working on live chroma performances in collaboration with Eats Tapes, and installations involving 3D chromadepth technology in collaboration with the Freddy McGuire Show.
In addition, Laitala has been continuing her explorations with expanded cinema performances. The Color Red Bleeds Blue, Velvet of Night and Trip the Light Fantastic are recent additions to this body of work.
Laitala was also chosen as a recipient of a GOLDIE- (Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award) from the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2007 and was voted “Best Filmmaker Without a Pixar Contract (Yet)” by SF Weekly in 2011.
The Muse of Cinema was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects Grant 2004 & 2007 and the Museum of Contemporary Cinema Grant 2005. A Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects grant was recently awarded for three more films in the series (Spectrology, Legerdemain and Afterimage- A Flicker of Life).