Sept. 19th – Focus Group: Films and Videos by Michael Robinson

Experimental Response Cinema and Focus Group at the Visual Arts Center are excited to present an evening of recent film and video work by New York-based artist Michael Robinson. Blurring public and personal memory, while borrowing the formalism of structural film and the emotional cues of pop songs, Robinson’s work explores the joys and dangers of mediated experiences and the fine line between nostalgia and contempt. Robinson will be in attendance for an introduction and post-screening Q&A during each presentation.

Event Details
September 19th, 2013
7pm & 9pm
Visual Arts Center (map)
Auditorium , Room 1.102
(Find out how to get discounted parking to attend this VAC event!)

Michael Robinson (b.1981) is a film and video artist whose work explores the joys and dangers of mediated experience, riding the fine lines between humor and terror, nostalgia and contempt, ecstasy and hysteria. His work has screened in both solo and group shows at a variety of festivals, museums, and galleries including The 2012 Whitney Biennial, The International Film Festival Rotterdam, The New York Film Festival, The Walker Art Center, MoMA P.S.1, The London Film Festival, REDCAT Los Angeles, The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Sundance Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Tate Modern, Impakt, Media City, The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Images Festival, The Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the San Francisco, Melbourne, Leeds, Vienna, Singapore and Hong Kong International Film Festivals. He was the recipient of a 2009 residency from The Headlands Center for the Arts, a 2011-2012 Film/Video Residency Award from The Wexner Center for the Arts, a 2012 Creative Capital grant, and his films have received awards from numerous festivals. Michael was listed as one of the top ten avant-garde filmmakers of the 2000’s by Film Comment magazine, one of the “Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50” by Cinema Scope magazine in 2012, and his work has been discussed in publications such as Artforum, Art Papers, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Dazed and Confused, The Nation, BOMBlog, and The Brooklyn Rail. He has curated programs for San Francisco Cinematheque, Whitechapel Gallery, Cornell Cinema, and The State Contemporary Art Center in Moscow. Michael holds a BFA from Ithaca College, a MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema at Binghamton University.


7 min / 16mm / sound / 2006
An ill wind is transmitting through the lonely night, spreading deception and myth along its murky path, singing the dangers of the mediated spirit.

12:45 min / digital / sound / 2010
Tired of underworld and overworld alike, Isis escourts her favorite son on their final curtain call down the Nile, leaving a neon wake of shattered tombs and sparkling sarcophagi.

10:45 min / digital / sound / 2006
Shaping a concurrently indulgent and skeptical experience of the beautiful, the film draws an uneasy balance between the romantic and the horrid. A Frank O’Hara monologue (from a play of the same title) attempts to undercut the sincerity of the landscape, but there are stronger forces surfacing.

5 min / digital / sound / 2008
Plagued by blindness, sloth, and devotion, a troubled scene from Little House On The Prairie offers itself up to karaoke exorcism.

11:20 min / digital / sound / 2007
A very special episode of television’s Full House devours itself from the inside out, excavating a hypnotic nightmare of a culture lost at sea. Tropes of video art and family entertainment face off in a luminous orgy neither can survive.

13:20 / digital / sound / 2009
A dark wave of exile, incest, and magic burns across the tropics, forging a knotted trail into the black hole. Three star-crossed siblings wander in search of one another as a storm of purple prose and easy listening slowly engulfs them.

4:20 min / digital / sound / 2008
A charred visitation with an icy language of control: “there is no room for love”. Splinters of Nordic fairy tales and ecological disaster films are ground down into a prism of contradictions in this hopeful container for hopelessness.

6:00 min / digital / sound / 2011
This is the new choreography of devotion, via the vlog of southern nightmares. This is the light that never goes out. This is the line describing your mom.


12:30 min / digital / sound / 2007
Dormant sites of past World’s Fairs breed an erruptive struggle between spirit and matter, ego and industry, futurism and failure. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory; nothing lasts forever even cold November rain.

45:45 min / digital / sound / 2012
In a broken near future, a band of listless vagabonds ambles across a war-torn coastal territory, supervised and sorted by a group of idle soldiers. Rummaging, stuttering, and smashing through the leftovers of Western culture, these ragged souls conjure an unstable magic, fueled by their own apathy and the poisonous histories imbedded in their unearthed junk. Suspicion, boredom, garbage, and glamour conspire in the languid pageantry of ruin. Feel the breeze in your hair, and the world crumbling through your fingers.
Filmed in Northern California and Central New York, with performances by Julia Austin, Rachel Bernstein, Hajera Ghori, Douglas Martin, James McHugh, Gennaro Panarello, and Chad Southard, with costumes and sets by Dana Carter. Supported by The Wexner Center Film/Video Residency Award, Circle in the Sand is a project of Creative Capital.
“Michael Robinson’s Circle in the Sand invokes the cosmos with generous throws of glitter. With a strikingly costumed cast wandering the post-apocalypse, the film plays like a zonked L’Avventura (1960). Three sparkle-eyed women walk the California coast, while a forlorn troupe of military men wait on patrol. The ladies unearth misbegotten artifacts of a forgotten world in the sand: anonymous Yelp reviews, skipping Counting Crows CDs, and dayglo nails are just the beginning. Stretching beyond the short format, Robinson’s imagination remains prodigious in the particulars. The credo bookending the film – ‘We wanted to destroy knowledge but from within knowledge’ – does nicely as a description for the collagist’s quixotic task.” – Max Goldberg, for Keyframe/Fador

8 min / 16mm / sound / 2005
Viewed at its seams, a National Geographic slideshow from the 1960’s and 70’s deforms into a bright white distress signal.



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The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is positioned as a place for the intersection of art education and art evolution. The center is a new exhibition and research space within the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin that will highlight internationally acclaimed artists, as well as students, faculty, and alumni through multiple programs. An adaptive reuse of the space in the Art Building previously inhabited by the Jack S. Blanton Museum, the VAC was designed by renowned architects Lake | Flato and provides an additional 22,000 square feet of space to the department.

The Visual Arts Center draws together a uniquely diverse arts community of students, alumni, faculty, guest artists and creative voices from around the world. This beautiful facility — with its airy hall, collegial gathering space and inspiring art exhibits — forms the new intellectual and emotional center of this dynamic community.