Nature

Set between Swaziland and South Africa, in a region still struggling with the divisions produced by an apartheid government, Greetings to the Ancestors documents the dream lives of the territory’s inhabitants as the borders of consciousness dissolve and expand. Equal parts documentary, ethnography and dream cinema, herein is a world whose borders are constantly dematerializing.

A chance encounter with a sober student reveals the mystery of a woodland wonder that has left a mark on his youthful psyche just as it leaves huge footprints on the forest floor. A short meditation on a tall terror in the trees that shade shadowy giants from the glare of sanity.

“A soldier’s trip to Syria is complicated when he accidentally impregnates a friend. Meanwhile, a horse breeder from Ohio is driven away from home by her own desire to become pregnant. In Hard as Opal the lines between truth and fiction, fact and fantasy, are reined in and treated not as fixed, divisive markers but as malleable threads of narrative potential. Buckhiester and Leventhal perform alongside other non-actors who are filmed in their own varying domestic and professional environments.

“A soldier’s trip to Syria is complicated when he accidentally impregnates a friend. Meanwhile, a horse breeder from Ohio is driven away from home by her own desire to become pregnant. In Hard as Opal the lines between truth and fiction, fact and fantasy, are reined in and treated not as fixed, divisive markers but as malleable threads of narrative potential. Buckhiester and Leventhal perform alongside other non-actors who are filmed in their own varying domestic and professional environments.

HotSpell, 2011

This final weather diary travels through some rough inner and outer domains.  Social interactions blend more smoothly than the clash of air masses which threaten to clobber a prairie town in a vortex of violence.

Flashbacks and flashpoints flare-up along with thunderheads that loom and boom with vibrations of doom, their every move charted with vivid vibrancy on videographic maps which detail developing devastation.

Desire and death are in the air along with some aromatic wisps of ethnic edibles, so be sure to sniff it all.

 

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.

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.

"We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?"

-- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

September 24th, 2016, North Avenue Beach, Chicago. It was a sunny day. According to the weather report, the temperature was 75°F, with the barometer reading of 30 inches height and the wind speed of 13 miles per hour. The time was 2:27 pm, I was standing by the Michigan Lake. In my hand there was a waterproof camera that weighs 2.6 ounces. I pressed the record button on the camera and threw it into the lake. The camera sank into the lake immediately and embarked on a mysterious journey. During the journey, it was elevated, pressed, panned, rotated, and spun by the water.

In the film Mad Ladders, the prophetic ramblings of an unseen narrator recount fantastical dreams of the coming Rapture, as crystalline imagery of rolling clouds gives way to heavily-processed video of moving stage sets from The American Music Awards telecasts of the 1980s and early 1990s. Blooming and pulsing in and out of geometric abstraction, this swirling storm of rising curtains, spinning set pieces, and unveiled pop idols forms an occult spectacle, driven by its impassioned narrator and an 8-bit leitmotif.

The Making and Unmaking of the Earth turns to geology as both a metaphor for and a psychic container of women's emotional states and embodied experiences of physical pain. Combining archival footage of earth processes with interviews describing mysterious physical experiences and emotional attachments, this film explores how everything we bury deep inside eventually speaks through the geology of the body.

We recently went to Guinea Bissau to research the guerrilla schools of the mangroves. Instead, we soon became ourselves the apprentices and the first lesson we had to learn was how to walk. If you walk straight, placing your heels on the ground first, you promptly slip and fall in the dams of the flooded mangrove rice field or you get stuck in the mangrove mud. You need to lower your body, flex your knees and stick your toes vertically into the mud, extend your arms forwards in a conscious and present movement. In the mangrove school the learning happens with the whole body.

We recently went to Guinea Bissau to research the guerrilla schools of the mangroves. Instead, we soon became ourselves the apprentices and the first lesson we had to learn was how to walk. If you walk straight, placing your heels on the ground first, you promptly slip and fall in the dams of the flooded mangrove rice field or you get stuck in the mangrove mud. You need to lower your body, flex your knees and stick your toes vertically into the mud, extend your arms forwards in a conscious and present movement. In the mangrove school the learning happens with the whole body.

An abandoned rural house, the Ravel Quartet in F major and then rain, wind, snow and fog are the elements of which this video is composed. In an impossible procession, one take presents four atmospheric agents to strike against the house. The musical instruments which follow the quartet each become an audio track which corresponds to each one of the atmospheric agents. So the sound of the first violin drips like the rain, that one of the second violin is muffled like the snow, the sound of the viola moves like the wind and that one of the cello vibrates like the fog.

Nest-Cams, 2012

Nest-Cams features footage from cameras placed in and around nests. Animals showcased include: black-capped chickadee, red squirrel, house wren, horned lark, red-breasted nuthatch, black tern, brook trout, and song sparrow.

The Observers portrays one of the world's last staffed weather observatories in two different seasons. Extreme and unpredictable, the land and sky of Mount Washington, New Hampshire form a varying frame for a climatologist as she goes about the solitary and steadfast work of measuring and recording the weather.

A video work that documents the annual orchid show at the New York Botanic Garden, Orchid Show critically observes notions of spectacle, gender and beauty as a query into the staging and imaging of nature. For the audio, the sounds of the garden fold into a classical composition for piano, Kaleidoscopic Changes on an Original Theme, Ending with a Fugue (1924) by Ruth Crawford Seeger, one of the few celebrated female composers of the early 20th century.

Outwardly from Earth's Center is a fictitious narrative about a society on an unstable piece of land that is in danger of disappearance. The situation requires the population's collective initiative in order to secure individual survival and to allow the society to remain. The concept's background is somewhat realistic since Sandön moves approximately one meter per year.

In these "plays" for the camera, the lushness of an afternoon tryst with it’s perfumed colors is displayed center stage. You’ll experience too, the oppressive moods that permeate the lonely streets of a city at night and witness the antics of it’s desperate, guilt-ridden inhabitants.

A man with two dogs crosses a landscape. A person walks along a ridge and stops to look at the skyline. Other people run while nature shrinks back to its enigmaticness. In this video landscape doesn’t evolve according to simple time curves, but according to the particular mode of crossing of a weather element: fog.

George Kuchar has been invited to Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyard for a large family picnic. Walking around the property with a friend, the two look on as a team of workers picks grapes for winemaking. The visual wonder of this setting is not lost on Kuchar, who spends little time filming those in attendance. Instead, Kuchar turns his lens to all things natural, ranging from small goats and swans to the simple beauty of light reflecting off a stream.

Primate Cinema: Apes as Family is a drama made expressly for chimpanzees – and the chimps' reaction to its screening at the Edinburgh Zoo. Chimpanzees watch television as a form of enrichment in captivity. But no filmmaker had made a film for a specifically ape audience.

Quantum, 2015

A small Italian town on a seemingly distant hill appears like an architectural model illuminated by interior lighting. Suddenly, sounds seem to cancel the distance, suggesting nearness. Places and actions appear in miniature, animated by the light that is switched on and off. The whistling of the wind and the sounds coming from the town increase. A voiceless aria reverberates through the landscape in the absence of light.

—International Kurtzfilmtage Winterthur, 2015

Reclamation is a documentary-style imagining of a post-dystopian future in Canada after massive climate change, wars, pollution, and the after-effects of the large-scale colonial project which has now destroyed the land. When Indigenous people are left behind after a massive exodus by primarily privileged white settlers who have moved to Mars, the original inhabitants of the land cope by trying to restore and rehabilitate the beautiful planet they belong to.

In Rotten Apples, George Kuchar explores the themes of life, lust, decay and death, all through the act of grinding apples for cider. As Kuchar walks around an orchard with his friends in an attempt to enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings, his creeping hand gestures make it clear that the threat of destruction is always looming. However, this destruction can also be understood as the simple transformation of a thing’s physical state.