Sound

Sara Magenheimer earned her MFA at Bard in 2013 and has since shown her work internationally in Canada, Iceland, the Czech Republic, and Denmark. Her cross-disciplinary practice plays with the juxtaposition between the form and content of language, exposing the absurdity of expected meanings.

This compilation features 11 of Jem Cohen's collaborations with musicians. Made on 16mm, Super 8 and Video, the works include the music of R.E.M., Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Void, Elliot Smith, Jonathan Richman, Miracle Legion and Olivier Messiaen.

Nightswimming

Noise, 1972

The earliest of Benglis's videoworks, Noise calls attention to the assemblage element of video by allowing the image to disintegrate into static between edits. Benglis also plays back several generations of image and soundtrack to introduce increasing amounts of distortion. Conversation is reduced to unintelligible noise, resulting in the disassociation of sound and image that to some extent characterizes her later work.

This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

An absurdist demonstration of how the alphabet works.

O, Persecuted turns the act of restoring Kassem Hawal’s 1974 Palestinian Militant film Our Small Houses into a performance possible only through film. One that involves speed, bodies, and the movement of the past into a future that collides ideology with escapism.

Om, 1986

A film about haircuts, clothes, and image/sound relationships.

"This four-minute film explores our response to stereotypes—aural, visual and ideological. Smith signals these stereotypes to the viewer through a chiefly associational system, which deftly manipulates the path of our expectations. The structure is stunningly simple and deceptively subtle. We are taken on a journey from one concrete stereotype to its diametric opposite, as images transform and juxtapose to, ultimately, invert our interpretation of what we see and hear."

—Gary Davis

Passage, 2020

A foley artist creates sounds for a film featuring a dressage horse and dissolves into their own imitation. As the character in the film, played by the gender fluid performer Simon(e) Jaikiriuma Paetau seems to transform into a gender-defying centaur, the film reflects on the boundaries between the human and the animal as well as on fictional gender roles and their transcendence. Shot on 16mm film, Passage alludes to Eadweard Muybridge’s pre-cinematic experiments with horses.

Written, Directed, Produced & Edited: Ann Oren 

Capitalizing on the visual aspect of musical performance, Quad Suite explores the essential link between the image of music and its sound. In Six Vibrations, the camera is riveted to a close-up of the four upper frets of Landry’s guitar, maintaining an image of the sound easily identified with the gridded field paintings of Agnes Martin. In Hebe’s Grande Bois, Landry improvises on a bamboo flute as the camera frames his mouth, again in extreme close-up, in the center of the screen. There is something sensual, almost obscene, about Landry’s lips.

Remote, 2011

There is a presence lingering in the dark woods, just under the surface of a placid lake and at the end of dreary basement corridor. It’s not easy to locate because it’s outside but also inside. It doesn’t just crawl in on your wires because it’s not a thing. It’s a shocking eruption of electrical energy.

In the collage video Remote, dream logic invokes a presence that drifts through physical and temporal barriers.

Paul and Veena, two disembodied computer voices, wonder what things mean and what means things. We travel with them to various imagined places in this visually spare video, meditating on the in-between places and negative space where meaning hides out. Their discourse is interrupted by non-verbal utterances and coughs, out of which Magenheimer’s voice sings Everybody’s Talkin’ by Fred Neil, then disappears again, sinking back into the digital sonic depths.

SPRING, 2012

SPRING is a four minutes and fifty-six seconds experiment with psycho-optics and psychoacoustics to produce a field of moving images and sounds starring Ho Chi Minh, Occupy Wall Street actions and Crocus.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

Twelve church bells are rung daily for 30 days in a sculptural setting at the Capp Street Project in San Francisco. Ringers progress from practice sessions on beer bottles to a full-scale ring.

This piece was shot using a combination of 3/4" U-matic video plus Hi8 video.

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

This video is the result of many hours of object manipulation for the camera. Sound itself is an object here and so is language, as sound effects trigger an off-screen narrative and letters rain down in a thunderstorm.

It is TIME at a street corner in London... A collaboration between filmmaker Roderick Coover and writer Deb Unferth, this short marks the textual disintegration of the speaking clock in an unnerving portrait of technology, power, and the urban environment.

In this well-known early tape, Jonas manipulates the grammar of the camera to create the sense of a grossly disturbed physical space. The space functions as a metaphor for the unstable identity of the costumed and masked female figure roaming the screen, negotiating the rolling barrier of the screen’s bottom edge.

A re-working of Humphrey Jenning's 1943 seminal docu-drama The Silent Village wherein coal miners from the Welsh village of Cwmgiedd re-enact the Nazi invasion and annihilation of the resisting Czech villagers of Lidice. Principal focus in this re-mix is upon the way sound is used as a mode of social control.

Nauman stands with his back to the camera, repeatetedly drawing the bow across the strings of a violin tuned D, E, A, D. Perhaps more than any other exercise, this tape demonstrates the sense of anticipation built up in the viewer, as we wait for Nauman to walk, to turn around, to play music ... to do something. This title was in the original Castelli-Sonnabend video art collection.

A silent, moving poem, this video incorporates the “voices” of a wide variety of text sources into one scrolling script. The majority of the footage was shot through the window of a neighborhood salon that was showing a demonstrational video of their eyebrow threading services. Originally conceived for an exhibition at Cleopatra’s in Brooklyn, NY, this video is meant for a window in a storefront space, ideally viewed from the street in the context of other commercial moving images.

The only time I’ve visited a communist country was when I went to Poland in 1980, not long after Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was first elected in Britain. I first visited the former East Germany in 1997, eight years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and a few months after Tony Blair's ‘New Labour’ government was elected. Recalling these experiences many years later, White Hole questions our imaginings of life in other places, times and political systems, mirroring its narrative through its form. London and Warsaw, 1980. London and Leipzig, 1997. Where now?

“This work by John Smith looks down onto a busy Viennese intersection and a corner bakery. Constructed from hundreds of still images, it presents situations in a stilted motion, often with sinister undertones. Through this technique we're made aware of our intrinsic capacity for creating continuity, and fragments of narrative, from potentially (no doubt actually) unconnected events.”

--Mark Webber, London Film Festival (2003)

YOLO, 2015

Filmed in the remains of Soweto's historic Sans Souci Cinema (1948-1998), YOLO is a makeshift structuralist mash-up created in collaboration with the Eat My Dust youth collective from the Kliptown district of Soweto, South Africa. Vibrating with mic checks and sine waves, resonating with an array of pre-roll sound — this is cause-and-effect shattered again and again, temporarily undone.

 O humans, You Only Live Once!