Language

Endless Dreams and Water Between is a feature film with four fictitious characters sustaining an epistolary exchange in which their “planetary thought” is woven with the physical locations they inhabit, visual and aural characters in themselves: the island of Manhattan, the island of Majorca, in Spain, and the islands and peninsula that form the San Francisco Bay Area. The characters’ reflections and dreams enact what could be described as “an archipelagic mind,” linking worlds, time, and space.

An audience-interactive game of Mad Libs, with support from a linguistically challenged newcomer. We replace various parts of speech in newspaper articles to create new, customized meanings.

There are times when concurrent multiple realities demand an attempt to determine who has this "place in the sun" and where, exactly, it is located. Hearts and Helicopters occurs at that moment in the lives of four people.

This title is also available on Lawrence Weiner: Hearts and Helicopters - A Trilogy.

I just got this tattoo — you can see it's still healing, the edges are raised like some sort of fancy business card — to mark the completion of this, Series One of my on-going project, Final Thoughts. So, on one wrist, facing fistward, a skull and, on the other, still tender and healing, a ghost. Let them be the mascots for the series, little cartoony avatars.

Fluid Frontiers is the fifth and final film in the series entitled The Diaspora Suite, exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation, exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.

This installation is based on the re-enactment of Franz Kafka’s allegory "Before the Law", interpreted live over a telephone line by Katharine Gun. Gun was a translator (specializing in Chinese to English translations), working with the British secret service, who chose to leak information compromising the U.S. and U.K. governments in their push for a U.N. resolution for the invasion of Iraq. Gun disclosed their plans to illegally wiretap the delegations of the Security Council holding the balance of power at the U.N.  She was acquitted when it became clear to the government of the U.K.

"In the free space of the commodity, I digitally took apart moving image sequences and re-animated them into an encoded montage to create a metaphor of experience where the viewer feels like a fiber optic cable has been hard-wired into their consciousness — a look where the image is simultaneously visible and invisible. My hope was to create a work that re-presented information as a kind of subliminal narrative that critiqued the currently popular technotopian rhetoric."

— Les LeVeque

“To master the one-minute time span requires considerable discipline, and few pieces, if any, had been shaped as genuine miniatures—most having the appearance of being extracts from larger works. The notable exception was John Smith’s Gargantuan, which was not only the right length for the idea, but actually incorporated a triple pun on the word ‘minute.’”

— Nicky Hamlyn, “One Minute TV 1992”, Vertigo (Spring 1993)

"A wonderfully witty example of how to conduct pillow talk with a small amphibian."

— Elaine Paterson, Time Out London

In this 2014 interview, South African artist Kendell Geers (b. 1968) discusses the function of magic, myth, and memory in his work. Beginning at childhood, Geers charts the path he has taken in his understanding of his own biography as a site of resistance. This interest in the use of personal biography culminated in 1993 with his decision to change his date of birth to May 1968 as a way to reference both the May 1968 student protests, and the fact that 1993 was the first year that South Africa had participated in the Venice Biennale since 1968.

"i am very grateful that my 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) series has shown internationally over the last couple years and is recognized by viewers, reviewers, critics, and curators as doing decolonizing work as a feminist project that queers and glitches the Western genre. 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) questions the quintessentially American Western in the forms of experimental films and games that are made from glitches and noise, pushing boundaries of legibility and tipping over threshold states of stability.

“In The Girl Chewing Gum a commanding voiceover appears to direct the action in a busy London street. As the instructions become more absurd and fantasized, we realize that the supposed director (not the shot) is fictional; he only describes—not prescribes—the events that take place before him. Smith embraced the ‘spectre of narrative’ (suppressed by structural film) to play word against picture and chance against order.

Identically dressed, and with sibling-like resemblance, performance artists Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen shift between spoken word and athletic dance choreography in a collection of 29 scenes. Set in various locations--including a gymnasium, an abandoned hospital, and a trailer park circus--Martin and Olsen slip between a ventriloquist and his dummy, a seducer and his surrogate, a doctor and his patient, and synchronized dance partners. The film examines a complex social psychology--questioning the colonization of the human body for various political, medical and religious agendas.

There are times when concurrent multiple realities of place demand at least an attempt to determine who in fact has, and where is, this place in the sun. Hearts and Helicopters occurs at that moment in the lives of four people.

This title is also available on Lawrence Weiner: Hearts and Helicopters - A Trilogy.

Adapted from psychologist A.R. Luria’s research in the Islamic outskirts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, How to Fix the World brings to life Luria's conversations with Central Asian farmers learning how to read and write under the unfamiliar principles of Socialism.

Colorful digital animations based on Max Penson's photographs of collective farmers play against a backdrop of landscape images shot in Uzbekistan in 2004.

I borrowed this absurd phrase from a sign posted on the conductor’s booth in the Washington, D.C. subway. The language of civil service here borders on unintentional parody, with its blankly polite tone and bureaucratic single-mindedness. I.G.G.B.S.R.A.U.C. revisits my 1992 tape Nation, and features a dense chorus of faces and voices. These strangers ask us to consider the question, 'Who is the public?'
Tom Kalin

When everyone has forgotten the romantic refrains of the Internationale sung in different languages, Pablito, a blue front Amazon parrot, capable of living to 100 years old, will remember. He rings bells and is learning to whistle, hum and sing the Internationale in French, Spanish and German.

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

A chilling and revealing look at bureaucratic techno-speak, Finley provides a course in “official” media rhetoric, presenting terms and decoding for the audience (i.e. "soft target = city”, “involuntary conversion = crash”) against a slow-motion collage of military imagery. This intensely visual video illustrates how the urban environment has become the site of tactical language, rendering our daily lives in a science-fiction state of constant fear. The visual elements create a rhythm of threat that is punctuated by high altitude shots of military jets.

Logging and approximating a relationship between audio recordings of the artist and his father, and videos gathered of the landscapes they both separately traversed. The initial distance between the logger and the recordings, of recollections and of songs, new and traditional, narrows while the images become an expanding semblance of filial affect. Jáaji is a near translation for directly addressing a father in the Hočak language.

An extremely rare documentation of a private performance of John Cage, one of the leading avant-garde composers of the 20th century, who created "Writing for the Fifth Time through Finnegan's Wake" using I-Ching chance operation: Chinese fortune telling.  Here Cage performs in front of a video camera operated by Takahiko iimura, while he transforms the text of a modern literature classic by James Joyce into Cagian music in three ways: reading, singing and whispering.

Just, 2002

Through a process of degeneration of both sound and image, Just endows the iconic American flag with new context and implication. The image is repeated by generations, using different processes such as digital video, computer printout and photocopying, and then combined with degenerated sound. Single frames of original digital images are exported, and evolve through the repetition of process, before being metamorphosed back to digital image by scanning and rendering.

"Bricks, white noise, video. Free floating sync, altered, drifiting camera: video image and time. Keying permutations, switching via gray level values, using a modified b+w Sony special effects generator (SEG). Building the building, one brick at a time. In video what is a brick? In spite of what was then a fierce cultural doxa, an anti-materialist pressure, and being quite anti-anti-materialist I was working hard to coax out significant features as expressive intensity zones, electronic energy points always engaging with the signals."  

– Peer Bode

Language Lessons entwines the search for the fountain of youth with the dream of a common language. The fountain both promises and frustrates eternity, while this dream offers hope for common ground. The lessons, made vivid by watery, elemental images and multiple voices, suggest that communication remains at the limits of our imagination.

Music by Pamela Z.

Leslie, 1998

In the early 1990s, I went to a reading by Leslie Scalapino at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. I could not understand the writing, which can seem difficult and unwieldy to a reader unaccustomed to language poetry, and understood less the more I tried. After a certain point in the reading I stopped trying to figure it out and I let the words seep in. My reward was an effortless understanding of how her poetry works.

Lesser Apes tells the story of a love affair between a primatologist, Farrah, and a female bonobo ape, Meema. Bonobos are the species with which humans share the most DNA, but unlike our species, they are matriarchal, live without conflict, and are unabashedly sexual. A paean to perversion, the film combines animation, live action and song to challenge attitudes about sex, language and our relationship to nature.

Produced in Liege for Belgium TV, this tape considers how broadcast television functions in a multi-lingual area. A televised Tower of Babble, Muntadas shows the rigid conformity of style and content enforced through the medium, drawing attention to the similiar format of the programs broadcast in different languages.