October 12, 2006

Dear friends,

Here's the news on the 11th annual Not Still Art Festival.

The international screening attracted a great crowd from NYC and beyond.  
But what the attending artists most appreciated was the interviews!
(They think the screenings and interviews should be released on DVD).

deep+serious / crazy+wild / cynical+absurd / playful+silly
PLUS the *extraordinarily beautiful.*

THAT is what non-narrative and abstract work is now -
2D, 3D virtual reality, video artists and musicians/composers/sounda artists and poets are doing exactly what they want - without restriction.  They are transcending technology.

So, with that introduction, here's the Not Still Art Festival review.
Carol Goss, Artistic Director

The Not Still Art International Screening opened with “thereabouts,” a subtle yet tour de force piece by animators Peter Byrne and Carole Woodlock with Ethan Borshansky’s music.  “thereabouts” suggests much and confirms little – the aerial shots could be Iraq or a weekend hike.  The dynamic movement between abstraction and realism is powerful.  Borshansky’s sound pushes you forward, then it retreats, erasing something - but you’re not sure what.  There is something important happening here, but it’s at a subliminal level which leaves you in suspense.

Particle animation is Stephen Larson's métier.  His work continues to evolve and ever become more expressive.  “Discord: metal and meat” sluices through turbulent organic matter – blood is inferred and eventually becomes a sea.  Metal, representing mechanical constraint on nature, proves inadequate.  Larson’s music is complex and rhythmic.  USA.

“Cycle,” animation and music by Edward Ramsay-Morin, is a 3D assembly-line nightmare.  Humans play a small role in this black and grey world of pipes, gears and red globs – which are the product and life force of the system.  Whereas Larson’s red blood dominates nature, Ramsay-Morin’s red substance is controlled by an unseen force. Neo-serfdom is implied. USA.

"The Suskind Sisters,” directed and conceived by Kadet Kuhne, reveals that linguistic inflection and nuance is not limited to voice, but is conveyed equally by gesture.  We see only the hand gestures of two sisters conversing.  What we hear is sound triggered by their hand motion – and it is just as expressive as language – with nearly all the content. USA.

Marco Villani’s “ReadyMadeLife” takes body language to another level – that of the surveillance camera.  The blue light of the CRT, in high and low resolution, reveals human behavior as vulnerable.  The subjects are extraordinarily relaxed in their unselfconscious state.  A strange, elongated *silent night* sung in a shopping mall in Genoa Italy further distances the subjects from their invisible observers. Italy.

Ruud Vrugt’s “Eyes” whisks by in a moment. Macro eyes, a whirling globe, Bergman-like trekkers on an icy horizon repete and speed up to toy-box like music.  This oddly familiar motion implies the gloss of television advertising without the product-flogging content. Debut.  Netherlands.

Daveed Schwartz works Benjamin Peret’s poem “New Superstitions” into a marvelous multitasking take on Rene Magritte, which Magritte, no doubt, would have loved.  Period images are keyed into frames behind Magritte, who is animated with flailing arms and heard in French - as we see text in English revealing inane advice, such as: “For good luck, break your toothpicks after use.” USA.

Brit Bunkley, pushes surrealism just over the edge.  His hyper realistic 3D animation concerns itself with human movement in relation to architecture and nature.  In “Rural Vignette No.3” we know we’ve been had when the helical lines on the lighthouse start to revolve.  But then, he shows us waves crashing on the shore – and we’re not sure if this is real or Bunkley.  Debut. New Zealand.

John Hawk’s “Parts Per Million” cuts us adrift as in a daydream.  We hear the sounds of the wharf, but our eyes are defocused, and shapes drift by like floaters in our eyes.  It is only when a steely drop of liquid occasionally plummets from above that our consciousness is jarred to attention.  This hazy piece reinforces an awareness of the *moment* that more accurate detail would obliterate.  Debut. USA.

Lora Petrova Markova, plays with cut and paste like a school child - a blue girl manages to swim through a 2D world of torn color paper and zippy pop music. Bulgaria.

Animator, Stephanie Maxwell, finds an admirable collaborator in Michaela Eremiasova.  “All That Remains” moves at lightning speed through thousands of abstract and natural images.  Maxwell’s use of B/W and color forms plays well with Eremiasova’s dynamic electronic score. USA + Czech Republic.  

Jaeyoon Park’s 3D animation occupies a white space filled with mundane objects from traditional Korean culture.  But this space is more spirit world than daily life.  And in “Evocation” the symbolism of the carp, the crane and the empty slippers all convey, even to the uninitiated, a sense of poignant loss.  Junho Yang’s music, with Soo Myun Jeong’s performance, pushes the piece into the realm of the ecstatic. South Korea.

Robert Rolfe-Reading’s “Contemporary Mandala” is perfect trance, and if you’ve never managed to meditate, then this piece is for you.  Spherical perfection transforms into the cosmos and back again.  Debut. USA.

Yeon Choi’s animation stands up to the considerable challenges of Jerry McGuire’s music and poetry in “Learning to Play How High the Moon.”  McGuire is concerned with Nietsche and the inadequacy of normative modes of thought.  Being “backwards” becomes a metaphor for Choi’s images of a woman traversing a barren landscape made of fallen goddesses, perhaps Niuka, the Chinese goddess who created humans then was indifferent to their petty self-destruction.  The claustrophobic flooded medieval castle and caged bird stand in contrast to the soul which is free. Debut. USA.


The semicircle is primordial, and we can contemplate it as horizon or steering wheel.  Ian Willcock implies the latter with his screeching, throttling sound design.  But in this excerpt of “Rorrim Pt.1, ” Andrew Greaves’ barely 3D animation is more ambiguous.  A flat plane is creased by an unseen instrument, and we are persuaded that we are observing an imaginary yet tangible space. United Kingdom.

Musicians Scott Smallwood and Stephan Moore of Evidence, commissioned video artist, Betsey Biggs, to create images for “Path 1.”  The sound design seems ordinary enough until you get deeper into the piece.  Slowly it evolves and compounds its effect until you buy into its aesthetics.  Amazingly, Betsey Biggs has created a video which is as mysterious and layered as the music.  The semicircle appears again, but this time conveys cycles. USA.

Thomas Liphard pushes the mysterious into the realm of magic.  He does this in his short piece, “Composition 4,” not with special effects or special music, but with a levitated look at the moment.  Liphard doesn’t want to tell you something, he wants to share an inexplicable moment with you.  It is just a moment, and if he were not there to point to it, you would most probably miss it.  Debut. USA.

American and Autralian desert imagery, plus cultural artifacts, are the virtual environment of “Tracer” which Deborah Cornell created and specially navigated for video on an Immersadesk.  Richard Cornell, who composes for electronic environments as well as acoustic instruments, created the score for “Tracer,” performed by the Boston Music Viva chamber ensemble.  The poignancy of the violin and piano duet correspond to the pathos we feel for the remnants of ancient cultures.  This is the excerpted last movement of the more extended piece. USA.

“Dust” is the emotional sequel to “Tracer.”  Golden light barely filters through the semi-opague atmosphere created by Shimpei Takeda in video that looks more like particle animation.  John Hudak’s acoustic and electronic music releases partial phrases and distortions, emphasizing the loss of form.  Debut.  Japan + USA.

Gerhard Mantz’s b/w “Allegro Ma Non Troppo” is alien life with a groove.  This anthropomorphized 3D bipedal bot hogs the dance floor with virtuostic grace.  Mantz’s music is fun as well. An excerpt. Germany.

Heath Hanlin kicks it up a notch in his b/w 3D “Hell’s Prow.”  Information from Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets from the United States Geological Survery (USGS) output a molecular model and sound which gyrates to ever faster code instructions.  There is order writhing through chaos. An excerpt. USA.  

László Zsolt Bordos and Ivó Kovács collaborated on this b/w 3D extravaganza.  Music is by Prxt Krisztián Prokob.  They ratchet us through mechanical wizardry and optical tricks, leaving us with a glorious portrait of a young, Renaissance man flying overhead – perhaps it is a self-portrait. Bulgaria.

Erik Rasmussen's animation "Infinite Range,” a hyper 2D-3D trajectory, pulses with life without anthropomorphizing movement or form. Thor Alvarez’s startling super-pop music whips and swings. USA.

Chris Casady’s wit can always be relied on.  In his flash animation, "The Rice Song," he punches his images with comic clarity to the music of John Dentino and The Fibonaccis.  Proof that abstraction is not without a sense of humor. USA.

99Hooker, cynical, un-PC poet of our age, sets his cultural clairvoyance to animated psychedelic bubbles in “Static Ocean”.  Debut. USA.

Brian Evans only make pieces 2:15 seconds long.  “Amazilia” is no exception.  These 1950s retro-modern mosaics are created from datamaps, but that doesn’t take away from their lush sensuousness. USA.

Kevi Louis-Johnson’s video “Blueroom,” with location sound, is a montage of city streets in a palette from aqua to ultramarine.  The layered motion creates an abstraction of movement itself. USA.

In “Turgator” Marjan Moghaddam has animated blue ectoplasm on a white ground with audio triggers from Adam Caine’s relentless electric guitar.  Caine’s trio, with Ken Filiano on bass and Phil Haynes on drums, punches life into this abstraction.  The interface is seamless and the result is brilliant. USA.

Thanks to our magnificent interns - Derek Larson, from Yale University, and
Kelli Bodle, from Louisiana State Univerity.  Also, thanks to William Laziza for demonstrating his interactive video art and for technical support.
Thanks to, and the

Special thanks to the Experimental Television Center's Presentation Funds program, which is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.


Not Still Art is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts  

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