Astonishing Experience Box Set, a video installation from 2006 is now contextless & lives on the internet. (trt: 6:52)
I’ve been sitting on a couple pieces from yesteryear never really sure what to do with them anymore. Two video pieces in particular have stood in the vault since their premieres, both with context specific deliveries.
One particular piece, 2006’s ASTONISHING EXPERIENCE BOX SET was a video installation that had its run at the Seed Gallery space in Santa Ana, California, and after, was boxed away indefinitely. Only one DVD was made at the time (as was the plan), and was bid on, but me being overtly idealist at the time, refused to sell. The money wasn’t that great anyways, if i remember correctly.
Now, a good many years have passed, and, in due course, the source materials been transferred into digital binary, making it’s indefinite disappearance kind of disingenuous these days. My thinking is that, yes, it’s stripped of its context in a pure sense, and with that, what kind of a video installation is it, when the installation is gone? And the simple answer is, a video of course. Here below is the description, and some instructions into how to make it work. Or, just press play. I provided some context on its original form below.
Installation Premiere: 10-7-2006
Online Premiere: 9-19-14
Instructions: Headphones and a dark room preferable. In fact, a pseudo living room would be best (of course, I can’t force you to do anything in a virtual space).
On Oct 7, 2006, the Astonishing Experience Box Set installation premiered at the Seed Gallery at the artist village in Santa Ana California. The show ran from Oct 7 - Dec 2, 2006. The show was billed as “Light. Shadow and Motion: exploring the way light alter our environments”.
The installation included an old television, a dvd player, optional headphones, a chair, and a faux living room setup. In some ways, similar to the old Maxell tape commercials, although the living space was more archaic. On the television, the Astonishing Experience Box Set played as a loop.
This was the only time that this particular installation was made available to the public, and the DVD that hosts the Astonishing Experience Box Set was never played again. The total run time of the video from start to finish was 6:52, and was broken up into 6 distinct experiences. But, in direct conflict with the installation setup, there was no restriction to the viewing of the the video in linear terms, and the option of sound (headphones) was the direct responsibility of the viewer.
The mind and body work in mysterious ways in the “projects” realm. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten about life in the arts is that, “your story is never linear”. You cannot force your idea of plot unto the real thing. And when you do, life is a constant and consistent burden, one that always fails to satisfy, along with falling short of these preexisting narratives.
It’s hard to imagine sustaining the creative class as the numbers inflate and the capital diminishes. But, we are also in the throws of the chopped hierarchical tree, in which a select few where given the whole share of resources and attention for their creative endeavors.
Length, size, genre, mediums, fidelity, production values are just some of the things that seem to matter less and less, as ultimately, attention becomes the trophy creatives seek, sometimes in the most desperate ways.
The death of the critical class is inevitable because the distribution of the voice is constant. An opinion is an opinion after all, and control of content doesn’t exist. What you ultimately get is the good with the bad. Then this naturally follows, “what is good and what is bad”. Nobody gets to decide for you anymore.
Film list from the previous week:
This was an anime heavy month for me, as I had to reexamine the form for various purposes. The sensibilities at times are out of sync with what I personally enjoy, but in other moments and depending on direction, the works are spellbinding.
Some of my favorite films of all time are “anime”, although most of those titles fall unto the Ghibli team, which mostly functions in a separate category then “anime” in it’s most common associations. It’s almost impossible to dislike what Ghibli produces, but I feel hesitant to even write about those works, because to do so feels heavily redundant. If you don’t enjoy what Ghibil has to offer, you’re probably not interesting in movies in general.
But there are some other anime classics that remain deeply integrated into my psyche. The sheer weight of imagery in AKIRA, the collective works of Satoshi Kon, and Shinichirō Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop series are some examples. Yes, these examples are generally the touchstones for the genre, but again, I’m far from an expert in this subject.
evaporated fish tank
I’ve been on a Japanese kick of late. I happen to return to this culture, frequently, for a vast bouquet of inspiration. Simply, the well is never dry.
The last five films I’ve watched this week were Japanese. One observation I’ve made is that the Western Cinematic tradition has lifted heavily from this world, and Akira Kurosawa ( i feel silly leaving a link here, but I’m going to assume that a good percentage of people are not that familiar with him, and do not give the same unwavering adulation to say, Stanley Kubrick) being on the receiving end of this homage ripping, while also being the most universally influential. But aside from the good type of artistic stealing which is mostly an “influential” lifting, there has been a much more malignant form of culture appropriation, which comprises of the more serious form of perjury. And yes, this bad form of stealing is rampant in cinema.
In the prior decades, distribution was the real barrier to familiarity with international cinema. The world, before NETFLIX and the web was a localized arena. So localized in fact, that believe it or not, you’d have to go to a movie theater to see a movie (perhaps a film festival, or art-house theater, school, etc). And, if you didn’t catch it, then you’d have to hope for some form of taped distribution. It wasn’t till the late 70’s whereby people were actually renting and buying movies. At this juncture in the space time continuum, the selection was incredible limited.
With the explosion of VHS and the video store, more titles could be discovered. But, media was not ubiquitous, and our reference points were limited to stuff we heard about, or actually saw; which again, had serious limitations in breath, scope, and in memory. Image those days, in which Wikipedia, Google and Youtube were not at your beckon call, and did not serve as your assistant brain (soon to be, First Brain). Yes, scary indeed.
Say you saw something really interesting in an obscure Japanese movie from the early 70’s, and were a filmmaker in the 80’s and even early 90’s, and you happened to steal heavily from it. In fact, even go so far as to purge it’s images, its style, its flow. People would hardly know. Only a relative few. And surprisingly, unlike music and other types of arts, this type of heavy lifting would not even be frowned upon critically, and certainly not by the general movie going audience. For the most part.
The idea of originality in Western Cinema has long been a secondary by-product; a term Hollywood tried to bury (and successfully) in the 50’s (purely conjecture here). It’s worked. This is one of the only arts where familiarity gets a pass almost every-time. And as the post-modern infiltrated movie making in the early nineties, it was even considered cool.
But on a personal level, I always felt a more kindred liking to original works (herein I’m referring to a more direct style of moviemaking) then post modern assemblies of those styles. But that was then, and now is now.
But, “now” now, is not like the 90’s now. People dream up movement phrases like, “The New Sincerity”, and while this might last for “now”, it can never congeal into anything resembling the classical arts movements of a prior century. Because we have moved past time oriented “movements”. We are in a post-movement world; better yet, post-mechanical-watch. Human time doesn’t neatly pack itself into bubbles anymore, because it’s umbilical cord to our evolutionary clock has been cut.
And “now” is like the scene from the Mel Brooks film SPACEBALLS: Now “Now”, Not “Then” Now. This sentence above, however is not my own, i’ll gladly admit. In fact, I lifted it from a wonderful conversation between media theorist David Ryan Polgar and Douglas Rushoff. If only cinema were so nice to attribute.
I’ll leave you with this apropos image from Kinji Fukasaku’s BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY
Here is the visual representation for the MIRS track SUMMER GOD COMPLEX. This video is a digital deconstruction of footage that originated from an infamous, lonely and appalling source.
That source was also the lead-in into the writing process, although it was just a jumping point, a kernel of story that evolved into something else.
The deconstruction of the source footage also plays into an internal, corrupt mind grasping at order, and at times seeing beauty in it’s own destruction. The process involved the breaking down of codecs.