Architecture

In an upmarket house surrounded by an idyllic garden, there is no trace of human presence, even though a family obviously lives there. Voices, sounds and superimposed text create a feeling of disquiet whose origin continually escapes us. “A house can feel pain”… Playing on a doubling of vignettes against a black background or on a sound design that brings the off-screen world to life, Shelly Silver resuscitates the memory of this space, if only because a “house is a subconscious… a body…” And what if all this opulence and comfort were based on the exploitation of others?

Vito Acconci (b. 1940) is known as a conceptual designer, installation and performance artist. In the 1960s he embraced performance in order to "define my body in space, find a ground for myself, an alternate ground from the page ground I had as a poet." Acconci’s early performances, including Claim (1971) and Seedbed (1972), were extremely controversial, transgressing assumed boundaries between public and private space and between audience and performer.

A portrait of an unnamed city in Italy. Sidestepping the tourist attractions that make the city famous, the film/video posits an almost-imaginary place that draws closer to the reality of its inhabitants. Using a voiceover narration that collages direct observation, literary texts, historical fact, local folklore, and a bit of sheer fabrication, the film/video melds documentary and narrative, past and present.

San Francisco is a city where the virtual and the real co-exist. It is both a center of multi-media and Internet activity, and a city with a vibrant street life and commitment to public space. Awakening From the 20th Century explores these issues by asking the questions: Is life becoming virtual? Are we witnessing the end of the city? Will the computer replace the automobile?

This title is also available on Chip Lord Videoworks: Volume 2.

During her graduate studies at Hunter College, Alice Aycock (b. 1946) began to forge links between personal and more inclusive subject matter and form. In her quest for contemporary monuments, Aycock wrote her Master’s thesis on U.S. highway systems. Aycock’s large environmental sculptures create intense psychological atmospheres. Although she uses primitive rites and architecture as sources, her implementation of contemporary materials removes those specific connotations.

The Bats, 1998

The Bats details the mating habits of flying mammals in an abandoned Mayan temple in the 14th Century.

This title is only available on Soft Science.

A great example of early 1970s counter-cultural activity and the influence of Buckminster Fuller. The video, shot in Woodstock, NY in November 1971, includes footage of a communal meal being eaten in the woods, and of children playing in the mud. The video goes on to document the building of a geodesic dome. As the group works, many of them naked, they are interviewed to camera, and explain how to build a dome. 

"This film is closely related to my last feature-length project, Counting. I take the temperature of a neighborhood. In this case, the place is my New York. I think about street life and its threatened demise – a death ushered in as Big Money relentlessly re-makes cities in ever more categorical ways. I think with the camera, on the move, in fragments.

Chain, 2004

As regional character disappears and corporate culture homogenizes our surroundings, it's increasingly hard to tell where you are. In Chain, malls, theme parks, hotels and corporate centers worldwide are joined into one monolithic contemporary "superlandscape" that shapes the lives of two women caught within it. One is a corporate businesswoman set adrift by her corporation while she researches the international theme park industry. The other is a young drifter, living and working illegally on the fringes of a shopping mall.

A fairy tale, a road movie, a folly. The image of the road — black-top and broken white line — the most familiar and most fantastic sculptural installation; a worldwide work of art, which one sees everywhere and generally files under: "Are We There Yet?"

Citadel, 2020

Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, Citadel combines short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to coronavirus with views of the London skyline recorded in a variety of weather conditions. Recognising the government’s decision to place business interests before public health, it relocates the centre of

C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience), Part 1 is a collaborative video and performance work by artists A.L. Steiner and robbinschilds, with AJ Blandford and Seattle-based band Kinski. Inhabiting the intersection of human movement and architecture, A.L. Steiner and robbinschilds (Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs) present a full-spectrum video, set to a score by rock quartet Kinski.

Comédie, 1994

"This video in two parts is a newcomer's portrait of Montréal, and focuses on two of my architectural obsessions: the Hydro Québec building and the Métro. I spent my first winter in Montréal in a cold, dark, first-floor apartment. I sat in the kitchen beside the electric heater, drinking coffee and watching the disk on the electric meter spin faster and faster, all the while wondering how I would manage to pay the bills. At night, I lay in bed and looked at the enormous illuminated 'Q' on the Hydro Québec building and wondered how much it cost to keep it lit every night.

Brave new shopping worlds are being created. What have mall owners, architects, surveillance technicians, and supermarket workers done to turn human subjects into pure streams of consumers, into the perfect inhabitants of shopping mall paradise?

“But we are alone, darling child, terribly, isolated each from the other; so fierce is the world’s ridicule we cannot speak or show our tenderness; for us death is stronger than life, it pulls like a wind through the dark, all our cries burlesqued in joyless laughter; and with the garbage of loneliness stuffed down us until our guts burst bleeding green, we go screaming round the world, dying in our rented rooms, nightmare hotels, eternal homes of the transient heart.”

—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms (New York: Random House, 1948)

The first of the series includes:

What Does Away Mean? by Jem Cohen advertises the need to recycle through reconsideration of landfills and garbage disposal.

Pro-Choice is Pro-Life by Jane Pratt makes its point with the simple logic that every child should be cared for and wanted.

Historic Preservation by Jim McKay counsels for the preservation of historic buildings endangered by urban decay.

El Livahpla (Alphaville spelled backwards) is about the ways in which we "normals" are encapsulated in architecture and technology. Through the lens of Alphaville, we see into a past that exists in the present, while showing a future that looks old. It is a waking dream in which the objects of design that surround us fail to provide the answers or the escape that we seek.

This title has been remade as Une Ville de l'Avenir.

El Zócalo is an observational portrait of Mexico City’s central Plaza de la Constitutión during one day in August. Soldiers, Aztec dancers, clowns, food vendors, protestors, rain, dogs, tourists, kites, balloons, and dignitaries all meet in the public space of the Zócalo. This documentary presents daily life in one of the largest and most vibrant urban centers in the world, but it begins with a dream of history and ends with a dream of the space full of people for a Zapatista rally.

Failing Up describes career advancement despite bad decisions, bankruptcies, and intellectual mediocrity. In this short film, the Manhattan real estate holdings of the King of Failing Up are catalogued and synced to a soundtrack that suggests how it feels to be one of his subjects.

Whip pans, zooms, lens twists, and bursts of stop-frame animation transform eight minutes of borrowed audio from Home Alone 2 (a film that features a cameo of the current US President) into a political work of slapstique concrete.

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was both a pioneer architect of the modern era and a global theorist. Fuller developed a system of geometry that he called “Energetic-Synergetic geometry,” the most famous example of which is the geodesic dome. His many designs for automobiles and living spaces were applications of a wider theory.

A Yosemite gargoyle climbs two gothic arches.

This title is also available on Sympathetic Vibrations: The Videoworks of Paul Kos.

There is no better place to meet people than in the temporary community which gathers under a scant awning on a New York street in a downpour.

 

Hub, 2001

Hub proposes that the idea of home is today perhaps better expressed as a sense of being between places. Within the dalectical interplay between global processes and local environments, Hub suggests that displacement and mobility itself might be thought of as a new way of belonging. Hub uses the transitory space of the airport—defined by its arrivals and departures—to introduce the notion of disappearance to articulate new ideas on belonging and identity.

In this video, MICA-TV interprets the dark spaces of architect Peter Eisenman’s Wexner Center for the Visual Arts at Ohio State University through a fractured narrative of psychological perspectives. Eisenman’s pastiche of historical and contemporary architectural motifs, a characteristic of the postmodern style he pioneered, finds a parallel in this tale of haunted castles and a disappearing golem, told through a correspondence back through time.

"Bricks are the resonating fundamentals of society. Bricks are layers of clay that sound like records, just simply too thick. Like records they appear in series, but every brick is slightly different – not just another brick in the wall. Bricks create spaces, organize social relations and store knowledge on social structures. They resonate in a way that tells us if they are good enough or not. Bricks form the fundamental sound of our societies, but we haven't learned to listen to them.