Polyphonic Negotiations:
experimental documents from
Dustin Zemel JUNE 5

Sunday, June 5
Museum of Human Achievement
Springdale @ Lyons Street, Austin
Free (donation $5-10)

Pretend your MTV exploded. Imagine your heart reflected back to you in a million mirrors. Pretend you’re looking a thousand different ways at someone else’s story, only to find fragments of your own experience in the process. These videos and multi-channel works illustrate one artist’s attempt to build “polyphonic environments”—formal methods to capture the ways we see and hear while honoring the quantity and confusion of informational excess. In some of these videos, polyphony operates literally through the assembly of soundtracks that rely on simultaneous, multiple, distinct voices. At other times, it exists conceptually through the combination of modes/styles/genres. Using humor, duration, appropriated footage, split-screen, science, sound, these videos ask viewers to locate and fall into the unstable representational spaces that emerge when coherence and dissonance are cast to the margins.

Dustin Zemel is an award-winning video artist and scholar. His works and curated programs have screened at Experiments in Cinema (Albuquerque), Horse Hospital (London), PDX Film Fest (Portland), ACRE TV (Chicago) and more. He is the founder and former director of Grand Detour, a microcinema, curatorial group, and educational hub for experimental filmmakers and new media artists in Portland, OR. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD at Louisiana State

More info and links to videos at: http://dustinzemel.com and http://vimeo.com/artradio


Big, Dramatic

(2008) SD video, 16:19

An experimental documentary that chronicles a man’s battle with a rare form of cancer and his best friend’s interpretation of the disease. The film eschews conventional narrative and documentary techniques in an effort to build a new type of science film—one that embraces the ambiguities of everyday life.

1+1 > 2

(2009), SD video, 3:22

1 + 1 bridges time and space through the simultaneous presentation of present and past, composited thorough real-time mixing at the Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY.

More Please!

(2007) video, 6:21

An exploration of cable news production showcasing the intricate arbitrariness of images and the assertive redundancy of information and opinion.

Impressions of a Highly Coveted Demographic

(2008) 5-channel video to single channel assembly, 5 minute excerpt

Five individuals between the ages of 18 and 34, on camera, were asked to verbally repeat back as much as they could while listening to the soundtrack of a popular action TV show. Because of the aural complexity, subjective choices were constantly being made on what to parrot back. When the playbacks of the five subjects are synchronized, out of the cacophony, certain sound effects, voices and emotions emerge, revealing a rough shell of the original show defined by the most important “sticking-points” of this key demographical group.

Convergence Series: Tik-Tok

(2011) 5-channel video to single-channel assembly, HD, 4:09

Convergence Series is an examination of process, individuation and group performance. Filmed subjects are asked to impersonate elements (dialogue, gestures, melody, etc.) of short looped audio or video pieces presented to them. As time progresses, imitations of the filmed subject refine themselves to more closely match the referenced elements of the original text. When the videos are synchronized, the result is a collective movement away from the discordance of new translations, towards a more pleasant coalescence of group performance.

SCOOP 6PM: all is well

(2015) HD, 0:45

Subsidiary television production has refined itself to be as familiar and accessible as possible. Because of overarching homogeneity, local presentations have little tailoring to the communities they cover. Consequently, news programs across the country exist seemingly as carbon copies of one another. SCOOP 6PM is single channel reassembly using footage from my interactive, multi-channel video installation of the same name.

Action Phase Loop 5: Crane Hang

(2016) HD, 5:50

Inspired by the early phase loops of classical musician Steve Reich, Action Series Phase Loops play with notions of novelty, experience, and re-experience to give viewers a new insight into exceptional action film sequences.

Each of the pieces loop and superimposes a three to eight-second action scene upon itself, running each track at slightly different speeds. The looped and superimposed film samples provide a unique window into the intricate production techniques utilized by high-budget action films. The superimposition provides, initially, a jarring and surreal exposure, while the looping grounds a familiar foundation, provides a stabilizing reference against a parallel dissociation from cinematic reality. Through the slow process of dissociation and realignment, viewers are removed from the hypnosis of narrative, and transplanted into a new cognitive realm where they have the opportunity to closely scrutinize the visual instances within the sequence with a meticulous eye comparable to that of the director.

Hologram Analogies

(2012) HD, 19:55

Single shot documentation (filmed on a cell phone) of an evening ferry ride from Staten Island to Manhattan, Hologram Analogies (a.k.a. Cram Engram) explores concepts of experience, mediation, memory, re-memory, and the emergent temporalities implicated in each. The project was born out of a desire to venture into and tamper with the formal conditions that shape our understanding of documentary and experimental modes of mediation. The video begins under the pretense of pure, observational realism with its presentation of a single, (presumably) unedited long take of the ferry ride to Manhattan. As the shot progresses, the video slowly moves into the realm of the experimental through the implementation of an increasingly noticeable and, eventually, all-consuming audiovisual intervention.

Sonnet 404 … loading …

(2014) HD, 5:00

“Sonnet 404” conveys personal frustrations of compelled poetics; an attempt to process the ill-fated romantic prospect of articulating deep emotion’s confounding ineffability.

Diary Film 01: new Cine-mnemonic inquiry

(2015) HD, 5:13

An impressionistic experiment examining cinema’s capacity for documentation and remembrance, and our personal ability to distinguish the two.


TRT 1:11:54