Steina: Machine Vision (1978–)

21 November 2020, dusan

An electro-opto-mechanical environment by Steina, with instrumentation by Josef Krames, Woody Vasulka, and Bruce Hamilton. First shown at the Vasulkas exhibition at Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, 1978.

“When a human being operates the camera, the assumption is that the camera is an extension of the eye. You move the camera the way you move the head and the body. In video, unlike photography or film, the viewfinder is not necessarily an integral part of the camera apparatus. … In the late 1970s, I began a series of environments titled Machine Vision and Allvision, with a mirrored sphere. Another variation has a motorized moving mirror in front of the camera so that depending on the horizontal or vertical positioning of the mirror, the video monitor displays a continuous pan or tilt either back/forth or up/down. A third variation is a continuous rotation through a turning prism, while still another has a zoom lens in continuing motion, in/out. These automatic motions simulate all possible camera movements freeing the human eye from being the central point of the universe.” (Steina)

Recorded at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, 1994/1995

Artist statement and documentation (artist’s website archive with restored videos)

WEBM (42 MB)

John Akomfrah & Black Audio Fillm Collective: Handsworth Songs (1986)

8 June 2020, dusan

Handsworth Songs was released in 1986 as a cultural response to social unrest in Birmingham and London in October 1985, looking at the way events unfolded, the two deaths (that of black woman Cynthia Jarrett and white policeman Keith Blakelock), and the subsequent media reaction.

Subsequently selected by Okwui Enwezor for inclusion in the 2002 Documenta XI in Kassel and acquired by Tate, this early work by the Black Audio Film Collective has become not only an influential touchstone for an entire genre of essayistic filmmaking, but an important document on the state of race relations in Britain since the landing of the Empire Windrush in 1948.”

“Through an impressionistic mélange of newsreel footage, photographs, and interviews, Handsworth Songs arrives at a powerful, allusive, and deeply personal statement about the black British experience.” (Ashley Clark)

Directed by John Akomfrah/Black Audio Film Collective, 1986
Produced by Lina Gopal
Commissioned by Channel 4 for their series Britain: The Lie of the Land
61 min

Interview with Collective: Paul Gilroy and Jim Pines (Framework, 1988).
Online discussion (18 June 2020)

Commentary: Salman Rushdie, Stuart Hall, Darcus Howe (The Guardian, 1987), Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer (Screen, 1988), Stuart Hall (ICA Documents, 1989, PDF), Kobena Mercer (The Independent, 1989), Mark Fisher (Sight & Sound, 2011), Dara Waldron (Open Library of Humanities, 2017), Ann Ogidi (BFI, n.d.).

Review: John Sutherland (American Historical Review, 1989).


WEBM (427 MB)

James Benning: Two Cabins (2011)

25 January 2020, dusan

“This project based publication edited by Julie Ault documents and analyzes a body of work by the critically acclaimed filmmaker.

Benning reconstructed Henry David Thoreau’s and Ted Kaczynski’s iconic cabins, and uses these structures to reflect on utopian and dystopian versions of social isolation. Mounted on the walls of each cabin are copies of paintings by so-called outsider artists, also made by Benning. On the surface Benning’s two cabins are night and day, invoking contradictory sets of reclusive intentions and divergent paths leading back out. Deeper inquiry reveals the Thoreau / Kaczynski equation to be inspired. Benning’s engagement makes discernable a multitude of contacts between their motivations, beliefs, and experiences of seclusion. Benning’s armature artfully unfolds a complex articulation of practices of dissent, nonprescriptive ways of living, and the politics of solitude.

The book includes photography by Benning, essays by Julie Ault, Benning, and Dick Hebdige, and extracts from Thoreau’s and Kaczynski’s writings.”

Edited by Julie Ault
Publisher Art Resources Transfer, New York, 2011
ISBN 0923183485, 9780923183486
175 pages
via juleslineal, HT Auditory Scenes

Interview with author (Brian Sholis, Artforum, 2012)

PDF (10 MB)
Film (2011, 31 min)