Media Arts Program

Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

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

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Spectral Landscapes - Five Films by Laura Kraning

Still from Irradiant Field (2016)
Still from Meridian Plain (2016)
VINELAND (2009, DV, 10 min)
At the last drive-in movie theater in Los Angeles, dislocated Hollywood images filled with apocalyptic angst float within the desolate nocturnal landscape of the City of Industry. In this border zone, re-framed and mirrored projections collide with the displaced radio broadcast soundtrack, revealing overlapping realities at the intersection of nostalgia and alienation.

"...A spectral quality characterizes all the images and sounds, both those that emanate from the screen in the night sky, and those of the surrounding cityscape. Vineland speaks quietly and eloquently of fantasized image-making, of the sheer presence and scale of Hollywood's imposition on the landscape, both that of the nation and the one in our minds." — Tony Pipolo, Millenium Film Journal

DEVIL'S GATE (2011, HD, 20 min)
Tracing the metaphysical undercurrents of a Southern California landscape scarred by fire, DEVIL'S GATE unearths a subconscious of the landscape, as the echoes of the past reverberate in the present and infect our perception and experience of place. The film merges an observational portrait of a landscape transformed by fire, ash and water with a fragmentary textual narrative, providing a view into man's obsession with controlling and transcending the forces of nature and spirit.

"Earth, water, air, and fire are the major actors in an expanse in which the time allotted to man seems prescribed. Geometric figures drawn by the highways, stains on the concrete and the noise of the river in the background create a symphony in which one can easily get lost. Filmed in sharp black and white to the rhythm of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2, Devil's Gate emerges as a sample of esoteric archeology." — Carlo Chatrian, Visions du Réel

PORT NOIR (2014, HD, 11 min)
Within the machine landscape of Terminal Island, the textural strata of a 100 year old boat shop provides a glimpse into Los Angeles Harbor's disappearing past. Often recast as a backdrop for fictional crime dramas, the scenic details of the last boatyard evoke imaginary departures and a hidden world at sea.

Port Noir captures the remnants of the decaying Fish Harbor and Al Larson Boat Shop (built in 1903) at L.A. Harbor's Terminal Island, whose name itself appropriately describes a nearly forgotten and desolate place that often makes a cameo as a backdrop in film and television. The wiggling strands of well-lit reflections of water dance and flicker onscreen in a meditative look back at a lost world, as slats of wood, metal wires, and creaking grating form their own compositions in carefully framed shots. Ephemera of long-gone seafarers, such as old-time safety-match posters, pinups, and occasionally menacing images, peel away to reveal the ravages of time. The film's sound is just as compelling, with man-made noise contrasting with songs of wildlife and the subtle sounds of the sea. All told, the film adeptly reflects this L.A.-based CalArts Film and Video instructor's experimental approach to documentary filmmaking." — Tanja M. Laden, KCET Artbound

IRRADIANT FIELD (2016, HD, 10 min)
Mirroring sky and earth, solitary mechanical sentinels follow the sun, while metal grids rain in a parched California landscape. Irradiant Field is a visual and sonic portrait at the intersection of nature and machine - a desert mirage of light, wind, water, and metallic reflection.

"The film opens on a vast terrain of metal and light as innumerable panels slowly twist toward the sun. The image considers the symmetry and precision of the manmade against the distant backdrop of the "real" landscape, a distant hillside; the solar plant has transformed the beautiful California fields into something else, not simply a blighted mechanical site, but a hybrid landscape that harbors its own beauty." — Holly Willis

MERIDIAN PLAIN (2016, 2K, 18 min)
MERIDIAN PLAIN maps an enigmatic distant landscape excavated from hundreds of thousands of archival still images, forecasting visions of a possible future, transmitted from a mechanical eye.

"With her newest project, the dazzling Meridian Plain (2016), Kraning moves in a slightly different direction, still exploring landscape but this time working from an archive of mechanically captured still images that she laboriously organized and then worked with frame by frame, creating a magisterial portrait of a seemingly otherworldly landscape. It is yet another black-and-white project, and we might consider it not time-lapse so much as space-lapse, wherein spaces collapse and give way to each other. Through her editing, Kraning produces complex visual and almost physical rhythms, moving from staccato pulses and a roiling horizon to hovering and shaking and ultimately disintegration." — Holly Willis

Laura Kraning's moving image work navigates landscape as a repository for memory, cultural mythology, and the technological sublime. Exploring absence and the fluidity of time, she evokes liminal spaces of neither past, nor present, but a landscape of the imagination. Laura's work has screened widely at international film festivals, museums, galleries and micro-cinemas, such as the New York Film Festival's Views from the Avant-Garde and Projections, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Edinburgh Film Festival, London Film Festival, Visions du Réel, MoMA's Doc Fortnight, Art Toronto, Centre Pompidou, National Gallery of Art, and REDCAT Theater, among others. She is a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation John H. Johnson Film Award, the Leon Speakers Award and Jury Awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Film House Award at the Athens International Film and Video Festival, and the Jury Award for Short Film at the Rencontres Internationales Sciences & Cinémas Film Festival. She recently relocated from Los Angeles to Buffalo, where she is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at University at Buffalo.

"It is axiomatic that landscapes reflect their historical moment. But it may also be true that visions of the outer world are attempts to understand an inner world. In Kraning's hands, we must immediately diffuse the polarity between inner and outer, however, and recognize that what's at stake now, in a world characterized by catastrophic ecological crises, is our own entanglement with the world. Where landscape painting of eras past presented an object to be viewed by a curious and possibly awestruck subject, the immersive experiences produced by Kraning blur the boundaries among landscape and technology, between human and nonhuman. We are invited to reimagine these relationships, and to experience the body through sound and image as coterminous with the world. These are not portraits of landscapes to watch; instead they are experiments in perceptual attunement that invite a reconsideration of our relationship to an often mysterious and intriguing world." — Holly Willis