Blank City: Documentary About a Time When New York Had Artists

Celine Danhier's 2010 documentary covers a time in the late 1970s when New York was exploding with music and filmmaking energy. Young artists were unafraid to take to the streets without budgets. They were paying low rents and had a community to thrive within. Watching this makes one wonder what exactly New York is for today. It seems more corporate than creative. More trendy than artsy. I think the cops shoot people who don't have budgets now. That's if they aren't too lazy to strangle them to death. Where are young artists going now? Detroit? Newark? Or do they just decide to look down, keep walking and go buy a latte?

 

 

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Voice on the Line: A Film by Kelly Sears

Here is a mixed media film by Los Angeles filmmaker Kelly Sears that tells an all too plausible documentary tale about secret government agencies listening in on telephone operators to learn all of our secrets. Found footage combines with animation to create a quiet disturbance. Sears' work has been screened at The Museum of Modern Art, LACMA, the Hammer Museum and many others.

Here's an interesting article with an interview about her work.

Thank you to Phil Solomon on Facebook.

 

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The Crimson Kite: Animated Short Film

CrimsonKite

A crimson kite caught in the branches of an ash tree catches the attention of two boys who may not know that the roots of an ash tree grow all the way down to Hell.

Playdead, a motion graphics and animation company in Glasgow made this arresting and mysterious film.

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Jammin’ the Blues: 1944 Warner Bros. Jazz Short

Jammin

Here’s a 1944 Warner Bros. short film featuring famous jazz musicians doing a jam session with dancers. It was directed by Gjon Mili. The players are Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, Sid Catlett, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, John Simmons, Illinois Jacquet, Marie Bryant, Archie Savage and Garland Finney.

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Illustris: Incredible New Universe Simulation Built with Supercomputer

Illustris

Using a supercomputer, scientists have built a 3-dimensional model of how the universe evolved after the big bang. Apparently, the model is so complex that a normal desktop computer would have required 2,000 years to do all the calculations.

It is a breathtakingly beautiful and detailed model, allowing viewers to find galaxies and dive into them. It shows the spreading of cosmic gasses, the distribution of both dark and ordinary matter, and the formation of galaxies. No such model has ever been built before. It’s the result of a collaboration known as the Illustris Project.

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Ghost Algebra: Gorgeously Unsettling Animated Film by Janie Geiser

JanieGeiser

This is a brilliant animation from Janie Geiser who is a renowned theater and film artist specializing in the use of inanimate objects and toys to create unsettling and evocative films and performances. Her work has been screened worldwide, including at the Whitney, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The film investigates the origins of the word ‘algebra,’ which turn out to be somewhat interesting. Frankly, I had never once even considered the word before watching this film.

JanieGeiser3

It’s a subtle film. A beautiful but difficult film. Let’s think about this experimental film, shall we? What do we see in this film? Holes. Lots of them. Holes for looking through. There’s a little plastic doll who looks very 1940s, some birds, numerals, trees, and lots of grass. Blades of grass. When I see a little plastic girl doll looking into holes I see a filmmaker looking into a camera to investigate the world, or rather the mind, or perhaps the unconscious. This doll approaches an odd stone bunker on a hill and she peers into a small opening into darkness. It looks a bit like an old Nazi gun bunker. Carl Jung would approve! All experimental films should dig into the unconscious mind, I think. People throw ‘dreamlike’ around quite often these days when talking about films. There are very few dreamlike films. What most people mean by dreamlike is simply blurry. Anyway, our plastic doll sees things in storybook fashion that suggest nature and Nazis. There’s warfare going on. The precision of battle maps. The doll’s vision puts conflicting images of tamed nature description together with extreme violence. Nothing is attached properly to anything. Ideas do not lead to logical conclusions. Instead, they lead to odd constructions, more like what is required by the creative mind.

Geiser’s ‘algebra’ theme seems to peek through at times in images of severed limbs or broken bones, teeth, spilled blood, and of course the various number machines that pop up. The word algebra apparently used to have a meaning related to restoration or reunion, sometimes applying to the setting of broken bones which was often done in medieval times by a dentist who also performed bloodlettings. Interesting. But this film is not really about mathematics. At least not the usual kind. It’s about piecing together a vision of the world. Immersion.

 

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