Media Arts Preview: An Outside Perspective of L.A., 'Making Chinatown' and More

Abacus

L.A. media art re-imagines the past this week with several events designed to rethink earlier films and genres, and it looks to the future with large-scale multimedia projects filled with bombast and intrigue.

Thursday, February 2
REDCAT presents Early Morning Opera: Abacus, a media performance that explores the power of persuasion. Director Lars Jan and the Early Morning Opera, a Los Angeles-based art lab "dedicated to the creation of original artworks about America," use various presentation techniques to introduce a media visionary, Paul Abacus, "who is given a platform to expound on such theories as a re-imagining of Buckminster Fuller's fabled Geoscope." The show opens today, with performances Friday and Saturday nights as well. All shows begin at 8:30 p.m.

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You Are An IMOCA presents another Engagement Party event featuring the collaborative team known as CamLab. For this event, which takes place tonight, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, CamLab "will provide a fabric infrastructure for receptive bodies to listen, learn and speak to each other."

Lars Von Trier's Zentropa screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at LACMA as part of a spotlight series on the director. The film is described as a "noir-soaked thriller," and stars Jean-Marc Barr and Barbara Sukowa in a story about postwar Germany and features the incredible visual style for which von Trier became famous. The series continues later tonight with a screening of Medea at 9:25 p.m. The film uses a screenplay co-written by Carl Theodor Dreyer, which in turn is based on the Greek myth of a woman scorned by her lover.

Friday, February 3
SwoonThe UCLA Film & Television Archive presents two great independent films from the 1990s: Swoon by Tom Kalin tells the story of gay lovers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb who murdered a child. The black-and-white film is at once a mysterious and poetic exploration of desire and a testament to queer pride. The short video Jollies by Sadie Benning was made using a Pixelvision toy camera and revels in the filmmaker's desire for other girls. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and filmmaker Tom Kalin, critic B. Ruby Rich and actor Craig Chester will be in attendance.

Saturday, February 4
Berlin-based media artist Ming Wong is featured in his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in a show at REDCAT titled Ming Wong: Making Chinatown. The project continues the artist's interest in exploring cinema by working through the visual styles of well-known directors, including Ingmar Bergman and Wong Kar-wai. For this particular show, Wong reinterprets Roman Polanski's 1974 film "Chinatown". The project "transforms the exhibition space into a studio backlot and examines the original film's constructions of language, performance and identity." REDCAT will host an opening reception today, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., and the show will be on view through April 1, 2012.

The Desert PeopleLos Angeles Filmforum presents Alternative Projections: Outsiders Observe Los Angeles tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Echo Park Film Center. The show features films made by visitors to Los Angeles, who bring an outsider's perspective to the city. Films will include David Lamelas' celebrated 1974 film, The Desert People, as well as Ben Van Meter's Me & Bruce & Art, among others.

Sunday, February 5
Ilene Segalove will talk about her work today at 3:00 p.m. at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary. Segalove's series of videos from 1974 titled The Mom Tapes, as well as many of her other artworks, are on display in MOCA's show, Under the Big Black Sun: California Art, 1974-1981. The talk is free with museum admission.

ImagineTuesday, February 7
Nancy Buchanan has curated a collection of videos from the early 1980s when music videos were not yet codified but were creative and even visionary. Titled Music + Image, the show includes a range of works drawn from screenings and exhibitions at the Long Beach Museum of Art and includes works by Dara Birnbaum, Laurie Anderson, Zbigniew Rybczyński and many others. The show is at REDCAT and beings at 8:30 p.m.

About the Author

Holly Willis teaches in USC's School of Cinematic Arts and writes about new media art. She is the author of "New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image" and editor of "The New Ecology of Things" on pervasive computing.
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