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The Terror Of Video Art

I don’t write that much on the “video art” side of the underground film scene, but I like to keep a toe dipped in its waters at least a little bit, mainly just by regularly reading the digital art blog Rhizome. That’s where I found the above embedded video, Dual Ghoul II by Nate Boyce. The one at the bottom of this post I got from somewhere else. However, I’ll get to that in a little bit.

Also, the title of this post is a joke — probably only funny to me — based on Boyce’s video. His name’s familiar to me because he screened at San Francisco’s Other Cinema series last spring and he also had a piece in this year’s final New York Underground Film Festival. At the time, I found some music video work he’s done, like this one for Hella’s “Anarchists Just Wanna Have Fun.” I like it, but felt the piece would work better on a big screen in a theater somewhere.

But, I really love Dual Ghoul II with its goofy repetitive streak. I also enjoy how during each repitition, you start getting used to what’s going to happen next — although you’re still a little surprised when it happens each time — and you can start taking the time to really analyze the ghoul in the video. The piece also has the feeling that somebody was just bored at work one day and thought, “I’m just going to throw this giant headpiece at different objects.” That’s probably not the way it went down, I’m just saying is all.

Now, about the below video: Jennifer MacMillan of the Invisible Cinema blog and a terrific filmmaker in her own right recommended to me the work of Raymond Salvatore Harmon, who has a whole bunch of videos up on Vimeo. For at least one of them, even I’m too chicken to post on the¬†Underground Film Journal despite thinking it’s hauntingly pretty in spite of its subject matter. (It’s a digitally manipulated stag film.)

Instead, to keep up with the “scary” theme of the post title I’m putting up Tactic. This is a video that I don’t know what the source of it is, but Harmon says it’s a video file that he converted to text that he then edited before converting back to video. Now, it’s an unrecognizable burst of random colors and sounds.

Why is it scary? Let’s say you’re reading this at work. Make the video full screen, call your computer IT department and report a problem. Just before support pops into your cubicle, start the video, wait for the player controls to go away and tell IT that your machine just started going haywire. They’ll get scared and freak out and you can head home before they figure out what’s really going on. Viola!

(Hope my little “trick” doesn’t belittle Harmon’s work because it’s really fascinating and beautiful to look at.)

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  • jmac says:

    Hey Mike!

    I am happy to see this post and to see these artists recognized! Spread the love!

    Your honest discussion is so refreshing, and I appreciate how you acknowledge a multifaceted perspective on work that pushes boundaries of the image, of propriety, of what is considered beautiful . . . (It’s okay for me to feel a little freaked out from time to time, right? :)

    I really admire IT artists who can disassemble their computers and breakdown the image into a gorgeous abstract experiential moving painting of pixels, like “Tactic.” So inventive!

    By the way, thanks for introducing me to “Dual Ghost II”!!! This video is the most hilarious thing ever, and I could watch it endlessly!

    As they say on Vimeo . . . Raaaaaad!


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