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Extra Curricular

by Holly Willis

25 Sentences

12 stills from Je Tu Il Elle Courtesy of Janus Films/Cinémathèque royale de Belgique

1. Inspired by a small pantheon of icons — Chantal Akerman, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ulrike Ottinger — I sought rage and radiance together.

2. In the 19th century, the light on the far edges of the magnetic spectrum was dubbed “invisible light.”

3. But then I returned to her films —those of Chantal Akerman — hunched over the computer, watching frame-by-frame, excerpting image after image to create grids, comparisons, my own small compositions.

4. By rearranging the coordinates of space and time, he — media artist Daniel Crooks — creates a city in perpetual evolution, its times and spaces offering up new relationships and permutations each second.

5. This slow glide through the museum is expressive of the time and space of the posthuman, as the movement of the camera’s view attempts to produce a coherent vantage point while everything else within the experience mitigates against precisely this coherence.

6. I wanted to somehow hold each image in my hand, to touch each, to feel each.

7. Instead of urban screens, I want to imagine a continuous, networked unfolding of cities, screens and humans that together characterize a culture of computation.

8. He — media artist Ian Cheng — creates algorithms that propel a set of elements — a landscape, a series of characters, and time — and over which he exerts little control beyond establishing the platform, determining the algorithm and setting the project in motion.

9. For a time, as a sophomore in college, I would slip out of the house late each night to roam the city streets, wandering, determined not to slip into mediocrity and the dull haze of the everyday, then running, running.

10. A few months ago, I was invited to reflect on the influence of Chantal Akerman on younger generations of women filmmakers and I returned to her work eagerly.

11. And this is what makes the Lidar scanner so compelling as a filmmaking tool: It calls attention precisely to the invisible, insisting that we acknowledge that reality is not constrained to what is visible to the human eye.

12. I guess I’m trying to reconcile my own predilections.

13. I watched several of her earliest films while in the bathtub, neck-deep in warm water, in a hotel room in Chicago.

14.This is a sampled, layered city; it is an algorithmically interrogated city, offering an aesthetic of the real-time and locative.

15. I teach a class now called “From Cinema to Post-Cinema and Beyond: History, Theory, Practice” that ponders the relationship between post-cinema and the post-human.

16. I like this: an infinite unfolding.

17. I wanted some way to capture and identify to her work, which can in some ways seem so disarmingly simple.

18. Upon clicking, we are immediately launched into a slow, ineluctable glide from the street outside, through the exterior doorway and walls, along a first-floor hallway and then up through a staircase, twisting around to float backwards a bit before sliding up through the third floor and into a room adorned with an architectural model situated in the center.

19. Scanners similarly register light as it bounces off things, but it is the light that occurs on the nonvisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

20. The project adopts a cinematic view in order to make sense of a sea of points, asserting a relatively stable, if mobile and ephemeral, place of unity.

21. I ask my students to identify the question that compels them most and answered it last year for myself: a deep yearning for alternative ways of knowing.

22. In returning to her work, I was struck by the strong desire to catalog, to chronicle, to analyze and discuss.

23. We understand this generally and conceptually, but quite often, we revert to a more quotidian belief system that cheerfully equates seeing and knowing.

24. With a scanner, what is measured in the bounce of light out to the world and back is time; the image produced is a vision of time; the temporal registers the spatial, not within the image but in the production of the image itself.

25. In short, I think, my impulse was to express a kind of love.

Image: 12 stills from Je Tu Il Elle Courtesy of Janus Films/Cinémathèque royale de Belgique

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