Erika Balsom

  • Ben Rivers, The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, 2015, mixed media, five-channel digital video projection (color and black-and-white, sound, infinite duration). Installation view, Television Centre, White City, London. Photo: William Eckersley.

    Ben Rivers’s The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

    EVEN BRITAIN'S NATIONAL broadcasting service is not exempt from the pressures of London’s bullish property market. In 2012, the BBC announced the sale of its Television Centre, the huge facility in White City it had occupied since 1960, to developer Stanhope PLC for £200 million (roughly $300 million). Much of the now-vacant complex is, unsurprisingly, slated for demolition, to make way for housing, offices, a hotel, and a private club. Among the storied structures soon to be razed is the Drama Block, a cavernous space where scenery and props were once built. It was this doomed warehouse that

  • Still from Johann Lurf’s Twelve Tales Told, 2014, 3-D digital video, color, sound, 4 minutes.


    “THE QUESTION to which Hollywood now is seeking an answer to [sic] is this: How long can the novelty of such pictures be expected to hold public interest?” This statement on 3-D movies was published in the New York Times—but when? One might easily mistake it for a line from one of the many recent think pieces that have waxed skeptical about the lasting power of digital 3-D blockbusters. In fact, it appeared on February 1, 1953—at the height of the so-called golden age of stereoscopic cinema—in an article detailing growing interest in the polarization process employed by the Natural

  • Robert Beavers and Gregory J. Markopoulos prepare for a  screening at the Temenos, Lyssaraia, Greece, 1980. Photo: Tassos Dambergis.

    the writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos

    Film as Film: The Collected Writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos; edited by Mark Webber. London: The Visible Press, 2014. 560 pages.

    IT IS AN OLD COMMONPLACE of advanced art that the deserving audience will emerge only in a time to come. This emphasis on futurity is built into the very term avant-garde, with its invocation of a movement forward by a select group to which the rest will catch up only later, if ever. American experimental filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos (1928–1992) presents a particularly extreme and fascinating case of this anticipatory wager. After earning recognition as a major

  • Morgan Fisher, Red Boxing Gloves/Orange Kitchen Gloves, 1980, two-channel video (Polavision cassettes transferred to DVD), color, silent, 3 minutes 20 seconds.

    Morgan Fisher

    Much recent engagement with photochemical film tends to reflect a fetishistic investment in the uniqueness of its materiality. The work of Morgan Fisher is different: His interest is in the conjunction of this material support and the demands of industry. For Fisher, film is less artisanal than it is inextricable from the standards imposed by corporations in the field, such as Agfa-Gevaert. Of course, it is exactly this tie to industry that has cast the medium into obsolescence, a topos that looms large in Fisher’s recent exhibition “Past Present, Present Past.”

    In the 1970s, Fisher worked in

  • Thibault Le Texier, L’Invention du desert (The Invention of the Desert, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes.
    film February 03, 2015

    Shorts Circuit

    IS THERE A MAJOR FILM FESTIVAL that takes artists’ film and video as seriously as Rotterdam? What too often figures as a marginalized sidebar emerges here as a key focus, with dozens of screenings covering the broad spectrum of experimental practice. From curated programs to installations in hotel rooms open 24/7, from gorgeous photochemical film to the wilds of digital psychedelia, from an eight-performance retrospective by Bruce McClure to the world premiere of Kevin Jerome Everson’s eight-hour Park Lanes (2015), Rotterdam had it all.

    In the shorts section, several standout films explored the

  • Aura Satz, Chromatic Aberration, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 9 minutes.


    PERHAPS THE SIMULTANEOUS DENIGRATION and exaltation of color in the West can be explained by its fundamental instability, its lack of fit with rationality and order. Color has variously been allied with the occult, the primitive, and the feminine; some say it is merely cosmetic, others that it is deeply spiritual. It is inherently subjective, bridging the external world and internal experience, and notoriously difficult to codify. Through the Latin celare, it has etymological ties to notions of disguise and concealment. What David Batchelor has termed chromophobia in his book of the same name

  • Phil Collins, Tomorrow Is Always Too Long, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 82 minutes.
    film October 31, 2014

    Every Which Way

    LURKING IN THE SHADOW of the Frieze Art Fair and relegated to the very back pages of the print catalogue of the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival was Experimenta, an assembly of nineteen programs devoted to experimental cinema and artists’ film and video. Curated for the second year running by LUX’s Benjamin Cook and the BFI’s Helen de Witt and William Fowler, the sidebar showcased some sixty-two works varying in length, ranging from productions with crews the size of a Sundance darling to films made by a single individual in the artisanal mode long associated with avant-garde cinema.

  • Tony Hill, Point Source, 1973. Performance view, Lichtburg Filmpalast, 60th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany, May 2, 2014. Tony Hill.


    THIS PAST MAY, “Memories Can’t Wait—Film Without Film,” the theme program of the 2014 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, began with a blank screen. No celluloid ran through the projector; instead, light was transmitted without intermediary, bright enough to bounce back and partially illuminate the faces of the seated spectators. Soon enough, members of the audience started to throw crumpled balls of paper in the way of the beam, causing shadows to appear on the screen. Others joined in, and paper airplanes began to soar, with laughter and conversation filling the room. The old

  • Film reel of Luther Price’s Clown, 1991, about to be screened at the Oberhausen Central Station, May 5, 2013. Photo: Kurzfilmtage/ Daniel Gasenzer.

    Erika Balsom

    1 LUTHER PRICE (International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany) The highlight of this tightly focused survey of the work of Boston-based experimental filmmaker Luther Price was the midnight screening of Clown (1991) in a makeshift bar at Oberhausen’s central train station. Rumor had it the floor might collapse, but that didn’t stop people from crowding in.

    2 A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS (Ben Rivers and Ben Russell) How should a person live? Where can one locate utopian and even transcendent experience in a world that consistently forecloses it? Rivers and Russell lead the viewer