Ashland Independent Film Festival week is coming up Thursday through April 10. People will be lining up and scoring tickets for an amazing array of alternative movies, but there’s one affiliated event that is not a film nor a piece of art, but some kind of experiential event that you will need to briefly live in and be surrounded by and impacted by — and then talk over with your friends.
It’s called “Convergence: Digital Media and Technology,” which may sound like a bunch of big computer graphics, but this, the second year of it, promises to be, well, as Scott Malbaurn, director of Schneider Museum of Art, explains it, “an exhibition of artists using digital media, a DIY approach, along with others who can use the technically sophisticated tools, ranging from video to installation pieces, using video mapping, within the context of fine art and video art.
“Audiences will find themselves watching video on TV or laying under a sculpture, with a sound track that transforms the space. It has two video projections on a sculpture and they are video-mapped to adhere to a third curvilinear form. The programs have to be used to manipulate the projection so it fits the sculptural form. There’s also a sound track to that piece, so it creates an all-immersive sense to viewer.”
Obviously, we’re on the cutting edge here, with no plot, no actors, no good and bad guys, with minimal and unmissable message, rather a sensory trip delivering mostly the message you bring to it — and probably a stress-reducing alternate reality. Or maybe it increases your stress. Who knows?
The project is a joint creation of the Ashland Independent Film Festival and Schneider Museum of Art, in whose space it will happen. Some of the components are coming from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, where AIFF Director of Programming Richard Herskowitz is also curator of media arts.
“These are multi-media interactive video installations,” says Herskowitz. “They are cinematic experiences, that are not experienced in movie theaters. In a gallery environment, they are more sculptural and physical and interactive. They are images moving in sculptural ways.”
Featured in the show is Nina Katchadourian’s “Acca Dacca Diptych,” described in the program as “part of a larger project, 'Seat Assignment,' created during the artist’s travels by plane. Using only a camera phone and a hat and collars created from airplane seat and lavatory materials, Katchadourian evokes the subjects of Flemish portraiture, lip-synching to AC/DC music.”
Resist that! It goes wayward against the grain of indie fests. What will you talk about over margaritas? It’s inductive, surreal, impressionistic.
Another is Peter Sarkisian’s “Book 2, “a commentary on the loss of writing as a form of communication in contemporary society.” He was named a “Master Video Artist” by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The program notes say it: “The real world is a much darker and deeper place than this, and much of it is occupied by jellyfish and things.” The mesmerizing projections of jellyfish, videotaped at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, can be viewed lying on pillows beneath a jellyfish dome, or from outside the dome.
Is anything more refreshing than the cutting edge? This is what indie film felt like 50 years ago.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.