Directors Morgan Fisher, Kevin Jerome Everson headline experimental film series at SU, University of Rochester
Program celebrates experimental film of past and present
The CNYX screening series—the acronym stands for “Central New York Experimental”—runs three Friday nights in April. The series begins April 12 in room 121 of SU’s Shaffer Art Building with a screening of Michael Snow’s “Wavelength” (1967), along with works by Joyce Wieland, Peter Kubelka, and others. CNYX continues April 19 at the same location with a Fisher retrospective, featuring an audience Q&A with the director. The series concludes April 26 in Hubbell Auditorium in Rochester’s Hutchison Hall with an Everson retrospective, followed by an audience Q&A with the director. All events take place from 6-8 p.m., and are free and open to the public.
CNYX is co-sponsored by The Central New York Humanities Corridor, a large-scale partnership supported by an award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The SU Humanities Center, administered by The College of Arts and Sciences; Rochester’s Humanities Project; the Department of English in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; and the Department of Transmedia in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
For more information, contact Chris Hanson, assistant professor of English at SU, at email@example.com.
“This series reaffirms our commitment to the digital humanities and media studies,” says Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and founding director of The SU Humanities Center. “Experimental film, whose hybrid forms of expression draw on memory, community, and the archive, is a powerful force in the public realm.”
Lambert is also The CNY Humanities Corridor’s principal investigator.
Hanson, whose expertise includes new media, avant-garde film and video, and film theory, is excited about this year’s series—and the opportunity to bring Fisher and Everson, as well as their work to the region.
“Morgan Fisher is an iconic and world-renowned figure of American art whose work has been widely credited with transforming the landscape of experimental film,” he says. “Fisher’s films rigorously examine the intersections between art and industry in cinema, at once laying bare the processes by which films are made and exploring the cinematic apparatus with precise reflexivity and a wry sense of humor. His work in film, painting, and other forms also push the boundaries of each medium in their conceptual scope and meticulous execution.”
Hanson co-organized the series with Jennifer Creech and Jason Middleton, assistant professors of German and English, respectively, at Rochester.
A professor at the European Graduate School, Fisher previously taught at UCLA and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He is a prolific artist, writer, and teacher who despite a 19-year hiatus, has made more than 40 films since the late ‘60s. Among his best-known films are “( )” (2003), “Standard Gauge” (1984), “Production Stills” (1970), and “Phi Phenomenon” (1968).
Fisher’s oeuvre, which has grown to encompass drawing, painting, and spatial installations, has been shown all over the world, including exhibitions at Tate Modern (U.K.) and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Everson, in turn, is an artist and filmmaker whose work focuses on the working-class culture of African Americans and people of African descent. He has completed nearly a hundred films, all of which examine conditions, tasks, gestures, and materials in these communities.
Everson’s films and artwork (the latter of which includes painting, photography, and sculpture) have been shown at the Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, and venues throughout Europe and Asia. He also is a regular participant at the Sundance Film Festival.
“As one of the most-exciting and prolific experimental filmmakers in the United States today, Kevin Everson has established himself in the vanguard of American documentary cinema,” says Hanson of Everson, who is an art professor at the University of Virginia. “His thought-provoking and richly evocative work maps the spaces between fiction and truth, between past and present, and between history and memory.”
CNYX also features a screening of “Wavelength,” the 45-minute film that all but established Michael Snow’s reputation as a premier “structural” filmmaker, emphasizing shape over content, and has become regarded as one of the leading examples of avant-garde film.
“‘Wavelength’ is one the most celebrated works of experimental film and is one of the most famous works of North American art in the 20th century,” says Hanson, regarding the Canadian masterpiece. “It is a meditative and profoundly deliberate contemplation of space, time, and film that challenges its viewers to consider the constitutive elements of cinema. It's a 'tour de force' that should be required viewing for any serious cinephile.”
Hanson adds that the decline in distribution and exhibition of celluloid print (the material used in “Wavelength” and most of the other films in this series) has led to fewer opportunities for audiences to experience cinema the way it was originally intended.
“This is one of the many reasons we are delighted to showcase all of these films in Central New York,” he says.
The SU Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to the Central New York Humanities Corridor; the Watson Visiting Collaborator and Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship programs; the HC Mini-Seminar and Syracuse Symposium Seminar series; and other research initiatives, annual fellowships and public programming.