Expedition/Travel

Filled to capacity, each car of a 157 car train sounds a percussive note in this homage to John Coltrane. And not one coal train, but two.

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

A poetic meditation on distance, Come Closer is a short and peripatetic film, casting an affective web between the locations of Lisbon, San Francisco and Brazil. Focusing on Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz, musician Derrick Green –– the filmmaker’s brother and lead singer of Brazilian band Sepultura –– and her own work produced in Lisbon since 1992, Come Closer can be thought as a meditation on friendship and saudade.

Upon entering the harbor, the voyager leaves the exceptional condition of the boundless sea--this traversable space of maritime immensity--to come ashore in an offshore place, in a container world that only tolerates the trans-local state of not being of this place--nor of any other really--but of existing in a condition of permanent not-belonging, of juridical non-existence. He comes to signify the itinerant body, bound to string along a chain of territories, never reaching a final destination.

The fragment contains within it an implied reference to something that was once whole. It suggests damage and violence, time and distance. These qualities I found were integral to my own constitution, and it was with the making of Cooperation Of Parts that this became clear.

“Misfortune makes and breaks you.” I have the misfortune of a history of disruptions, and the fortune of having that history to work with.

In 1993 President Mitterrand visited Korea. On this visit Mitterrand promised that he would restore to Korea the 297 volumes of the Oe-Kyujanggak Archives (the royal protocols of Chosun Dynasty in Korea), pillaged by the French army in 1866 and now part of the collections in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France). As a sign of intent, he assured the interested parties that a two-volume book, the Hyikyungwon-Wonsodogam-Uigwe, would be immediately returned.

A summer sojourn is fleshed out for maximum solar exposure in this video travelogue of sun, sea and epidermal exhibitionism. The states of mind and geographic localities are awash in a flow of imagery that rushes in on a tide of both Pacific and Atlantic origins. The people and places that bathe in this magnificence add both a sacred and profane froth into the salty brew; a witches brew of sculpted creations bubbling up with volatile violations from the depths of unfathomable needs.

This time, the call of the west sends me packing to Oregon, California and Arizona. You too can experience the dizzy delights of a whirlwind tour and witness wonders seen through the savage eye of a Sony camcorder. Actually, the adventure is rather mellow in mood and should spare the viewer a need for the ever looming and inevitable barf bag. See Phoenix in all its rocky royalty! Relish in the student clogged ivy halls of Portland! Immerse yourself in a technicolor rendering of Irvine, California.

Deliver, 2008

Like a generation of viewers, I was profoundly affected by Deliverance.  But I have always been troubled by the hegemonic structures of gender proposed by Boorman and Dickey. Hence, my version is played by women: myself, Peggy Ahwesh, Jackie Goss, Su Friedrich, and Meredith Root, all experimental filmmakers who work as academics. While faithful to our respective male characters, we also play ourselves.

In the midst of the 2011 revolution in Cairo, a few beduins listen to their car's radio near Jericho, a place which looks like the end of the world. Within moments this desolated landscape transfers into a busy tourist attraction as a bus full of Polish Pilgrims enter the landscape.

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.

This is a journey to El Paso, Texas, where the Super-8 filmmaker Willie Varella and I have a dialogue amid domestic routines, motel accommodations, and emotional baggage, indicative of life on the road. 

Palestine, April 15th-16th 2007

Moving from one hotel in Bethlehem to another in East Jerusalem, the filmmaker encounters a series of problems involving a ceiling, a video camera and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Dirty Pictures is the seventh episode in the Hotel Diaries series, a collection of video recordings made in the world's hotel rooms, which relate personal experiences and reflections to contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.

Based on Robert Heinlein’s 1941 story “Universe,” Double Lunar Dogs presents a vision of post-apocalyptic survival aboard a “spacecraft,” travelling aimlessly through the universe, whose passengers have forgotten the purpose of their mission. As a metaphor for the nature and purpose of memory, the two main characters (portrayed by Jonas and Spalding Gray) play games with images of their past; but their efforts to restore their collective memories are futile, and they are reprimanded by the “Authority” for their attempts to recapture their past on a now-destroyed planet Earth.

Draft 9, 2003

"This movie was collected for four years before being sprayed scattershot over 28 minutes of psychic mayhem. The line between living and dead is a frontier crossed and re-crossed here. The living are dead while the dead are animated, breathing, swimming, giving birth. Consumed by the animal life of the city, the artist undertakes a first person journey, producing diary notes from one of the most skilled lens masters of the new generation. The camera is her company in this duet of death, the instrument that permits her to see the impossible, the unbearable, the invisible."

Dribbles, 2010

From the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the innards of a castle of contraptions, this video explores the creative bric-a-brac of several entities who pioneered a wired frontier filled with fire wires and fire water.  Join them as they schmooze among the futuristic flotsam of fame and fortune cookies and rejoice in the eggplanted paradise that awaits the monsoonal mush of high desert drenchings.

Sassy, iconoclastic, and never-married, Los Angeles filmmaker Susan Mogul rides shotgun with ex-lovers, almost lovers, and her Dad, in a road movie turned inside out. Conversations with each driving man - pornographer, tuba player, TV critic, long haul truck driver, and more - are catalysts to reflect upon the past and comment about the present.

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.

On the outer limits of an Oklahoma town both eyes scan the skies for the terror being foretold by the volatile vapors that pulse with urgent radio frequencies. Meanwhile the tummy works overtime in adjusting to the exotic fare being deposited in its once expansive cavity (which has now shrunk somewhat in self-defense from the onslaught). It comes at the viewer in bursts of electric fury, this onslaught, and only the companionship of local beings can relieve the anxiety one feels at the crushing weight of water vapor in a vengeful mode.

Artist Rabih Mroué looks back at old audio recordings, which were made by him and his parents to be sent as audio letters to his brother while he studied abroad. The old recordings become the site of a political critique of the packaged values of communism, resistance and martyrdom.

This title is only available on Radical Closure.

“This melodrama, staged by me and produced with my students at the San Francisco Art Institute, follows the turbulent journey of an aspiring singer as she flees a frigid environment to heat up a tepid career. Hauling along her decrepit mom and an equally cadaverous aunt, our heroine falls prey to a variety of libido-inspired stresses and also has a tragic debut at a disco club populated by repressed, trailer trash and ousted meteorologists. It’s a fast moving trip from north to south with many odd detours for the viewer to relish.”

--George Kuchar

A trip to the Los Angeles film festival leads to a glamorous gauntlet of flashing smiles and flashing bulbs that add the extra “humph” to a reunion of old friends. Witness a premiere in full swing as the meatballs simmer for a summer bash in La-La land!

Forbidden to Wander chronicles the experiences of a 25-year-old Arab American Christian woman traveling on her own in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the summer of 2002. The film is a reflection on the complexity of Palestinian existence and the torturously disturbing “ordinariness” of living under constant curfew. The film’s title reflects this, as the Arabic words used to describe the imposed curfew “mane’ tajawwul” literally translate as “forbidden to wander”.

The Diaspora Suite

Filmed on location in Harlem (NY) and Ethiopia, Forged Ways oscillates between the first person account of a filmmaker, a man navigating the streets of Harlem, and the day to day life in the cities and villages of Ethiopia.

Mono Lake and Yosemite Valley, in California, highlight this excursion into the constipated crevices of once highly-active fumeroles that splatttered magma and chunks of hot rock onto the Western landscape. Now the vents are blocked by eating disorders that rob our nation of its free-flowing and fertilizing heritage. We follow a woman as she sinks into a dark, inland sea of great natural beauty, unable to deposit her own organic pile into the rich mineral build-up that reaches skyward toward the creator who dreamt up this exquisite landscape.

A sweeping saga of an evil matriarch and her march to infamy as she invades the hearts and souls of those organs and entities that reside in the male physique. A lustful excursion to the far corners of the globe as this vixen of vice weaves an occult web of sticky substances guaranteed to gummy up the gals and grease down the guys.

Craggy, ice-encrusted peaks soar skyward as blue lagoons lap incessantly to the drumbeats of big city behemoths hellbent on halibut and hashbrowns! The magic and grandeur of glacier-masked real estate is here for all to see and digest in this bountiful serving of natural delights.