Cartographic Cinema: Following a Straight Line
The screening will be followed by a conversation between Oleg Tcherny, Marc Downie and Ina Blom
In the words of Tom Conley, every film bears an implicit relation with cartography. Despite their very different historical formations, cinema and cartography draw on many of the same resources: like a map, a film may encourage its public to think of the world in concert with its own articulation of space. This screening program presents two films that are explicitly cartographic, in the sense that both invent new ways of mapping well-known locations while providing reflections on the very relationship between moving images and mapping. And, in their different ways, both do that by exploring how moving along a straight line may provide ways of tracing environments that are already understood to be moving and changing. Ultimately both films allow us to discover the entanglement of worldly sensibilities and forms of technical seeing and sensing.
Oleg Tcherny: La Linea Generale (2010) La Linea Generale was inspired by the ideas of Galileo Galilei, Sergei Eisenstein and Giorgio Agamben. The video opens with a view of an industrial Venetian canal and a distant mountainous landscape going slowly by, shot from the upper deck of a ship. Thanks to the use of vertical editing, the image gradually begins to blur, the fuzziness steadily increasing, accompanied by ambient sounds of Venice. By the end, every frame in the work has been superimposed, creating a beautiful gray abstraction.The images are accompanied by the sound of a man reading from the Italian version of Galileo’s 1632 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, in which a character named Sagredo imagines a pen on a ship departing from Venice that would leave a running line recording its journey.
Marc Downie / Paul Kaiser aka OpenEndedGroup: Detroit Transect - Spine (2014) Spine is the central hub of the Detroit Transect suite of 3D films by Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser. Detroit Transect forges a new kind of visual documentary radically different from the conventional documentary form. Spine presents repeated visual searches along the full length of the Brush Street transect, moving south to north. It comprises 10 distinct sections, which may be viewed in sequence in a cinema or, for installation purposes, split apart for spatial juxtaposition.
Ina Blom is Wigeland Visiting Professor at the Dept. of Art History, University of Chicago (since 2015) and Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo. She is currently working on a book project with the working title And Follow It. Straight Lines and Infrastructural Sensibilities.
Oleg Tcherny was born in Minsk, Belarus and y studied at the Dusseldorf Academy of Fine Arts with a pioneer of video art, Nan Hoover, and at the Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts in France, where he learned cinema in the editing room of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. He lives and works in Paris.
In P. Adams Sitney's words, Tcherny’s works "delve into the inner lives of things and people, and in doing so, point to a great hidden aspiration of the history of celluloid films: to erase the distinction between the inner and outer being of entities…. His first 16mm and 35mm films concentrate on oddities of speech – the uncanny interpenetrations of pimps’ argot and scholarly quotations in Ephèbes et courtisanes (2004) and the verbal impediments of Tourette Syndrome in Doch (2007) – while his digital work congeals people, paintings, musical instruments and the places they temporarily occupy into frequently palpitating organisms.”
His meditations on sexuality, politics, and the ontology of the image have been shown at major film festivals such as Venice, Vienna, Rotterdam, Berlin. His works have also been exhibited at art galleries, among which Galerie Poggi in Paris and Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York as well as presented at museums and cultural centers such as the Centre Pompidou (Paris), Palazzo Grassi (Venice), Kunstpalast Ehrenhof (Dusseldorf), the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Lviv Municipal Art Center in Ukraine.
Marc Downie is a new media artist and experimental filmmaker, but over the years he has also seemed to be a physicist (at University of Cambridge) and an AI researcher (at MIT's Media Lab). Downie’s complex algorithmic forms are inspired by natural systems and a critique of dominant digital interfaces. His interactive installations, compositions, and projections have presented advances in the fields of interactive music, machine learning, and computer graphics. And his ongoing collaborations extend artistic tools to new situations, including alternate reality games, carbon negative housing and infectious disease mitigation.
With OpenEndedGroup, he has worked in a broad variety of media and venues: making art for façade, gallery, dance, stage, cinema, print, and virtual reality. These works respond to an ever expanding range of materials - drawing, film, motion capture, photography, music, and architecture. OpenEndedGroup works frequently combine three signature elements: non-photorealistic 3D rendering; the incorporation of body movement by motion-capture and other means; and the autonomy of artworks directed or assisted by artificial intelligence. OpenEndedGroup’s 3D films and installations have premiered at MoMA, Lincoln Center, the Berlin Film Festival, the Rome Film Festival, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Detroit Institute for the Arts, and the Hayward Gallery; eight of their stereoscopic digital films were the first of their kind to enter MoMA’s permanent collection. Their VR works have premiered at the Pompidou Centre and Jacobs Pillow.