Media Arts Preview: Nina Menkes, Morgan Fisher, Jennifer West

Menkes Zohara

Many of L.A.'s great media artists have work screening or on view this week in shows across the city, from historic highlights to brand new efforts.

Yael BartanaThursday, February 16
The Hammer Museum will screen films by Dani Gai and Yael Bartana tonight at 7:00 p.m. The screening helps contextualize the exhibition Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone, 1955-1972, with stories about the ephemeral condition of life, an idea central to the Polish artist and Holocaust survivor. Films include Gal's Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog), and Bertana's trilogy: Mary Koszmary (Nightmares); Mur i Wie˙za (Wall and Tower); and Zamach (Assassination).

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Friday, February 17
Kino-Eye: The Revolutionary Cinema of Dziga Vertov, an extensive screening of films by the celebrated Soviet director, continues tonight with Kino-Pravda, Nos. 9-11, 13 (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: A Film Poem Dedicated to the October Celebrations) from 1922; Kino-Pravda, Nos. 14-17, from 1923; and Soviet Toys, from 1924. Margarita Nafpaktitis, the Librarian for Slavic and East European Studies at UCLA, will attend.

Saturday, February 18
The UCR California Museum of Photography is currently home to two new shows. Render: New Construction in Video Art considers the physical properties and processes of video and film, and "examines Renderthe intermingling of the materiality of technology and video in which artists use pixels and particle units from film to produce a new layer of mediated work." Artists with work in Render include Josh Azzarella, Rebecca Baron and Doug Goodwin, Jonathan Cecil, Robert Crouch and Yann Novak, Sean Dockray, Victoria Fu, Christopher O'Leary, Mike Toillion, Jennifer West and Jemima Wyman. The show also includes an interactive installation in which bodies in motion affect sound and video feeds near the entrance of the Culver Center of the Arts' entrance. Also on view is Ethan Turpin: Stereocollision, a series of historical images from the museum's large stereoscopic archive. Turpin borrowed images from the archive, which he digitally recomposed. "In re-appropriating imagery and combining scenes, Turpin creates new narratives from the historic photographs steeped in twenty-first century meaning." Today, artists from the Render show will discuss their work with curators between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., and there will be an exhibition reception, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. in the Culver Center of the Arts Screening Room.

CollabamationMachine Project hosts two events today: Infantcore deploys visiting babies as performers who will create music through motion tracking software as they crawl around the venue. That takes place between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. In addition, MP will host the Collabamation Workshop between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., which will cover the basics of stop motion animation. And there's more: tomorrow, Machine presents its famous Musical Soldering Workshop, during which participants learn the theory and practice of soldering while creating a fantastic musical instrument.

UCLA will present three films by L.A.-based filmmaker Nina Menkes tonight and tomorrow night at the Billy Wilder Theater. The filmmaker's award-winning new film, Dissolution, screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and tells a story inspired by Dostoevksy's Crime and Punishment. Tomorrow night at 7:00, Queen of Diamonds will screen; the film is set in Las Vegas and is about a disaffected blackjack dealer. In addition, The Great Sadness of Zohara, one of the filmmaker's first films, will screen; the story follows a Jewish woman who leaves Jerusalem to travel in Arab countries. Menkes will attend all screenings.

Bruce Nauman Pulling MouthSunday, February 19
Los Angeles Filmforum presents Tricky Poses and Taxing Conditions: Performance and Media, another screening in the ongoing Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles series. The show centers on films and videos that explore performance, especially as it relates to various aspects of the filmmaking process itself. Films to be screened include Morgan Fisher's Projection Instructions, Allan Sekula's Performance Under Working Conditions, Bruce Nauman's Pulling Mouth, and many others. The show starts at 4:00 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre.

The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre will screen Chris Marker's famous 1964 film La Jetee tonight, followed by its 1995 remake, Twelve Monkey's by Terry Gilliam. The show starts at 7:30 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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