Media Arts Program

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

$8 general, $6 students/seniors, $5 members

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Matt McCormick

The Great Northwest


Media artist Matt McCormick—who recently relocated to Buffalo via the Pacific Northwest—has screened at international film festivals and venues. He will present his latest feature The Great Northwest (2012, 70 min., HD), an experimental documentary inspired by a 1958 road-trip taken by four Seattle women. McCormick's reenactment is a purely observational chronicle that, using a scrapbook as conceptual map, provides us with a newly framed point of view that presents a landscape forever changed by the Interstate Highway System. McCormick will also screen his widely acclaimed short video, The Subconsious Art of Graffiti Removal (2001, 16min, 16mm/DV)

More about the film:

Sissie, Berta, Clauris, and Bev, each unmarried and in her late 30s, set out across the Pacific Northwest in a '55 Plymouth and crisscrossed the region for nearly a month. Traveling through Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, they visited National Parks, roadside attractions and drove the Historic Gorge Highway before it was 'historic'. Along the way they took photographs, kept notes, and collected menus, brochures, post-cards and receipts, all of which the organized into a crafty 70 page scrapbook of leather-bound construction paper.

The urban and rural landscapes the ladies experienced during their trip have changed greatly since 1958. While urban centers such as Seattle, Portland, and Spokane have sprouted sky-scrappers and hefty suburban growth, other towns such as Vantage and Taft no longer exist; one being flooded by Columbia River damming and the other paved over by Interstate 90. Development, damming, industry, and construction of the Interstate Highway System have moved mountains and rivers as well as towns and communities. Yet many aspects of the Pacific Northwest appear relatively unchanged. Carefully preserved towns such as Wallace, Idaho, and steadfast tourist attractions such as the Oregon Coast's Sea Lion Caves seem almost stuck in time except for perhaps a few new layers of paint.

Patiently shot with an observational and voyeuristic approach, The Great Northwest is a lyrical time-capsule that explores the fragility of history while documenting the present day. Using only location sound recordings and void of any narration or music, the film paints a portrait of the region while exploring how the visual landscape of the Pacific Northwest has changed over the past 50 years. While documenting transformations in culture, architecture, and land-use, the film explores the urban-rural divide, the region's relationship to natural resources, looks at the history of roads and the impacts of changing infrastructure, and considers the impact of tourism on the history and development of the American West.

About the Filmmaker: Matt McCormick is a filmmaker and artist who lives in Portland Oregon. His work crosses mediums and defies genre distinctions to fashion witty, abstract observations of contemporary culture and the urban landscape. Matt has had three films screen at the Sundance Film Festival, and has had work showcased at MoMA, The Serpentine Gallery, The Oslo Museum of Modern Art, CCA Wattis, the Reykjavik Art Museum, The Seattle Art Museum, and in 2007 he was selected to participate in both the Moscow Biennial and Art Basil. He has received awards including Best Short Film from the San Francisco International Film Fest, Best Experimental from the New York Underground Film Fest, and Best Narrative from the Ann Arbor Film Fest, and was selected for traveling group exhibitions including "The Uncertain States of America" and "Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast and Contemporary Art." His film The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal was named in 'Top 10 / Best of 2002' lists in both The Village Voice and Art Forum magazine.Matt's debut feature film Some Days are Better Than Others premiered at SXSW and was invited to screen in the New Directors / New Films series presented by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Starring Carrie Brownstein and James Mercer, the film was acquired by Palisades Tartan and was released theatrically in the spring of 2011. The New York Times wrote "(Matt) McCormick is a talented miniaturist, and Some Days is full of scenes and details that will make you smile" while the San Francisco Chronicle noted that "observant writer-director Matt McCormick takes his time on the small moments to make us care more about his characters."

Matt has also directed several music videos for bands including The Shins, YACHT, Sleater-Kinney, Broken Bells, and Eluvium. His 2007 video for The Shins' Australia was named as one of MTV's 'Top 20 Videos of the Year' while Rolling Stone Magazine called Matt's 2010 Broken Bells' The Ghost Inside video "awesome, transfixing and hilarious." In 1996 Matt started the Peripheral Produce experimental film screening series and video distribution label. He also founded the PDX Film Festival in 2001 and served as the festival's executive director until 2008.