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Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
7:30 p.m. Luminous Projections: Light in Bay Area Film and Performance

Kerry Laitala, Michael Wallin, and Nathaniel Dorsky in Person
Special film projection performance by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder

Tonight’s films deal with light—treating it as an especially compelling feature of the Bay Area environment, as an object of amazement in early electronic technology, or as the essential component of cinema. Nighttime illumination featured prominently in the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, as revealed in a short excerpt from the time, while Kerry Laitala’s Retrospectroscope uses light and precinematic illusion to animate contemporary movement. Minyong Jang’s The Dark Room meditates on the serene beauty of camera obscura images of the Pacific Ocean horizon and Michael Wallin’s Fearful Symmetry is a pulsating, single-frame exultation of light permeating and defining the industrial landscape. Nathaniel Dorsky’s 17 Reasons Why, in a new print, is a joyous visual exploration of objects encountered in the environment, a complex dance of images that uses local light as palette and takes wonder in the artifice of cinema. Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder’s elegant and riveting film projection performance EXIT strips away all naturalist cinematic illusion to highlight and give expression to the physical basics of cinematic experience: mesmerizing white light cast onto a suspended screen in a blackened space.

Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco, Cal. (1915, c. 2 mins, excerpt, Silent, B&W, 16mm, PFA Collection). Retrospectroscope (Kerry Laitala, 1997, 4 mins, Silent, B&W, 16mm, From the artist). The Dark Room (Minyong Jang, U.S./Korea, 2001, 4 mins, Silent, Color, 16mm, From the artist). Fearful Symmetry (Michael Wallin, 1981, 15 mins, Silent, Color, 16mm, From Canyon Cinema). 17 Reasons Why (Nathaniel Dorsky, 1987, 19 mins, Silent, Color, 16mm, PFA Collection). EXIT (Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder, 1999–2011, Silent/Sound, 30 mins, 35mm film projection performance)

—Steve Anker

• Total running time: 74 mins