Conversations at the Edge Fall 2020
Organized by the Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Video Data Bank, Conversations at the Edge is a weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists.
All of Conversations at the Edge’s fall 2020 virtual screenings and events are available free of charge.
Visionary Ecologies: Ursula Biemann
2013-18, Ursula Biemann, Switzerland, ca 80 min
Streaming October 18–24
In these four films--Deep Weather (2013), Forest Law (2014), Subatlantic (2015), Acoustic Ocean (2018)--artist Ursula Biemann examines the planet’s changing climate and its global ecological impact.
Ranging from the Amazon, where indigenous people like the Inga are struggling to preserve their ecosystems, to the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean, where even deep-sea creatures must navigate human-induced environmental change, Biemann’s works underscore how people, flora, and fauna are intimately connected. Deep Weather travels from the Alberta tar sands to the deltas of Bangladesh to examine the interrelated geographies of oil and water. Forest Law charts indigenous efforts to legally define the Amazon as a living entity in the face of large-scale oil and mining activities. Subatlantic ponders the connections between melting glaciers, ancient microorganisms, and weather patterns from Greenland to the Caribbean. Acoustic Ocean explores the sonic ecology of marine life while proposing alternative models for human existence in the natural world. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Video Data Bank.
October 22, 2020
Join us for an in-depth conversation with the artist, followed by audience Q&A.
October 22, 2:00 p.m.
- Thu, Oct 22nd 2:00pm
Join us for a talk with Swiss artist, author, and video essayist Ursula Biemann, whose visionary practice focuses on the planet’s changing climate and its ecological impact. A selection of her videos, including Deep Weather (2013), Forest Law (2014), Subatlantic (2015), and Acoustic Ocean (2018), are on view in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema from October 18 – 24.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Video Data Bank.
Grounded in a research-based practice, Ursula Biemann’s videos, installations, and essays consider the relationship between politics and the environment across local, global, and planetary contexts. In recent years, her fieldwork has taken her from the Amazon, where indigenous people like the Inga are struggling to preserve their ecosystems and cosmovision, to the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean, where even deep sea creatures must navigate human-induced environmental change. Underscoring how people, flora, and fauna are intimately connected, Biemann’s projects challenge globalist models of resource extraction and exploitation while inviting viewers to rethink their relationships with the Earth.
Biemann has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Bildmuseet Umea, Sweden; Nikolaj Contemporary Art, Copenhagen; Helmhaus Zurich, Switzerland; Lentos Museum Linz, Austria; and at film festivals like FIDMarseille. Her work has been included in major exhibitions at the Arnolfini Bristol; Tapies Foundation Barcelona; Museum of Fine Arts Bern; Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; San Francisco Art Institute; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Kunstverein Hamburg; and many others. Additionally, she has participated in the International Art Biennials in Sao Paulo, Gwangju, Shanghai, Taipei, Sharjah, Liverpool, Bamako, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice, Thessaloniki, and Sevilla.
In 2009, Biemann received the Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Prize for Art, and in 2018, she was the recipient of the Prix Thun for Art and Ethics. She was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Humanities by Umeå University (Sweden) and is on the board of the academic journal GeoHumanities.
Visionary Ecologies: Films by Ursula Biemann
Streaming October 18–24
Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn
Thursday, October 29, 2:00 p.m.
- Thu, Oct 29th 2:00pm
Join us for this discussion with net art pioneers and game developers Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn (Tale of Tales). Audiences are invited to join the artists in their free online multiplayer game The Endless Forest for a portion of this special event. Download here.
Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Weston Game Lab and Hack Arts Lab
Since 1999, pioneering digital artists Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn have created a body of enormously influential games and internet art. Best known for works like The Endless Forest (2005/2021), The Path (2009), The Graveyard (2008), Luxuria Superbia (2013), and Sunset (2015), among others, Harvey and Samyn’s sensuous, multi-layered games, all produced under the name Tale of Tales, explore complex themes of agency, trauma, and connection, often through the avatars of women, girls, and people of color. The two began their joint career producing vanguard internet and networked art as Entropy8Zuper! In recent years, they have turned to mixed reality and immersive software under the moniker Song of Songs. With their immersive and responsive environments, Harvey and Samyn aim to produce emotionally rich experiences unique to the digital realm.
Harvey and Samyn have released eight video game titles, all available to the public through major game portals. In addition to being experienced by thousands on home computers around the globe, their digital art works have been included in significant international festivals and exhibitions such as the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Tinguely Museum, Basel; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Museum of the Moving Image, New York; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Furtherfield, London; NEoN Digital Art Festival, Dundee; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Argos Festival, Brussels; and numerous editions of IndieCade; among many others. They have received numerous awards for their work, including a Nuovo award from the Independent Game Festival for Luxuria Superbia; design and sound awards from hoPLAY International Video Game Festival for The Path; and a Webby for their early site Entropy8Zuper!.org, among others. In addition to her collaborative partnership with Samyn, Harvey is professor of Games as Artistic Practice at Kunsthochschule Kassel.
The Tuba Thieves
2013 - ongoing, Alison O’Daniel, United States, 45 min.
Streaming September 27 - October 3
In Alison O’Daniel’s stunning, sonically rich film, the story of Nyke Prince, a Deaf drummer based in Los Angeles, intersects with that of a marching band coming to terms with the loss of its most sonorous instruments. Growing in part out of a series of collaborations with Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim, hearing painter and musician Steve Roden, and the late hearing composer Ethan Frederick Green, the film threads together vignettes from these characters’ lives while also reenacting three historic concerts: the premiere of John Cage’s 4’33” in 1952, the final punk show at San Francisco’s Deaf Club in 1979, and Prince’s concert for Deaf and blind students at Gallaudet University in 1984. In English and American Sign Language with English captions.
Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, in conjunction with the exhibition Nine Lives, on view September 12–November 15.
October 1, 7:00 p.m. CT
Join us for an in-depth conversation with the artist, followed by an artist Q&A.
TRANSFER AND TRANSMUTATION
2006-2020, multiple authors, multiple countries, ca 90 min
STREAMING OCTOBER 11 - 17
Six works by artists Wangechi Mutu, Sammy Baloji, Tabita Rezaire, CUSS Group, Pungwe, Ralph Borland, and Julian Jonker explore the transfer and transmutation of ideas, culture, material, and memory.
Program: Premium Connect (Tabita Rezaire, 2017); The End of Eating Everything (Wangechi Mutu, 2013); Mémoire (Sammy Baloji, 2007); Video Party 4 (CUSS Group, 2014); Song of Solomon (Ralph Borland and Julian Jonker, 2006); Listening at Pungwe (Pungwe, 2020).
Delinda Collier on Media Primitivism: Technological Art in Africa (Duke 2020)
October 15, 2020
Join us for an in-depth conversation with Delinda Collier moderated by Leslie Wilson.
Join us for this in-depth conversation with artist and filmmaker Alison O’Daniel about her practice, including her stunning ongoing project The Tuba Thieves, on view in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema from September 27–October 3.
Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, in conjunction with the exhibition Nine Lives, on view September 12–November 15
Due to circumstances beyond our control, tonight's Conversations at the Edge livestream featuring Alison O'Daniel has been canceled. We will make a recording of O'Daniel's talk and conversation with Deborah Stratman available in the Gene Siskel Film Center's virtual cinema in the coming weeks. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Sound—its sensory qualities and its social role—is at the center of Alison O’Daniel’s multidisciplinary practice. Spanning film, performance, sculpture, and installation, and also informed by frequent collaborations with hearing, Deaf, and hard-of-hearing artists and composers, O’Daniel’s body of work explores sensory experience, legibility, and access. Writing that “the intersection between poetics and activism is where I’m most interested and inspired,” O’Daniel uses her work to produce a more expansive visual, aural, and haptic vocabulary while inviting viewers to reconsider their relationships with the sensual world.
O’Daniel has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Centro Centro, Madrid; Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha; Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Art in General, New York; Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles; and the Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest.
O’Daniel is a recipient of the 2019 Louis Comfort Tiffany prize. She has also received grants from Creative Capital; the Rema Hort Mann Foundation; the Center for Cultural Innovation; and the Franklin Furnace Fund. Her film, The Tuba Thieves, was supported by the 2019 Sundance Creative Producing Lab. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2019 25 New Faces of Independent Film. She is an assistant professor of film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
The Tuba Thieves
Streaming September 27–October 3
Blue Life Seminar
2019, American Artist, United States, 19:31 min
Streaming October 4 – October 10
Originally installed as the centerpiece of the exhibition I’m Blue (If I Was █████ I Would Die), Blue Life Seminar is a chilling lecture on policing and state violence. Delivered by a blue figure whose features are drawn from the Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan and the Black, former-Los Angeles-Police Officer Christopher Dorner, the piece turns on the nature of “Blue Life,” an identity constructed by members of law enforcement in response to Black Lives Matter. Artist draws parallels between Doctor Manhattan, who self-exiled after becoming weaponized by the United States government, and Dorner, who shot and killed four people, including two cops, after publishing a manifesto on the LAPD’s racist culture and excessive use of force. “I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system,” the disillusioned figure declares, cautioning, “many of you who identify as blue are Black.”
October 8, 7:00 p.m. CT
Join us for an in-depth conversation with the artist, followed by audience Q&A.
October 8, 7:00 p.m.
- Thu, Oct 8th 7:00pm
Join us for a talk by multidisciplinary new media artist American Artist, whose work examines Black labor and visibility within networked life. Their video, Blue Life Seminar, is on view in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema from October 4–10.
American Artist’s multidisciplinary practice spans new media, sculpture, and writing. In acclaimed projects like My Blue Window (2019), Artist criticizes artificial intelligence, mimicking the aesthetic of first-person games to lay bare the structural biases built into seemingly neutral policing technologies. In others, Artist imagines technologies that position Blackness as the basis of virtual creative possibility. Artist’s legal name serves as a foundation for these projects, suggesting that an “American artist” is Black, while at the same time resisting identification by digital systems.
Artist is a resident of Red Bull Arts Detroit, and a 2018–19 recipient of the Queens Museum Jerome Foundation Fellowship. They are a former resident of EYEBEAM and completed the Whitney Independent Study program as an artist in 2017. They have exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Koenig & Clinton, New York. Their writings have been published in The New Inquiry, the New Criticals, and Art21. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Artforum, ARTnews, and the Huffington Post, among others. Artist is a part-time faculty at Parsons School of Design and teaches at the School for Poetic Computation.
Blue Life Seminar
Streaming October 4–October 10
October 15, 7:00 p.m.
- Thu, Oct 15th 7:00pm
Join scholars Delinda Collier and Leslie Wilson as they discuss the artists and ideas behind Collier's new book Media Primitivism: Technological Art in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020). A sweeping study of technological media centering Africa, Media Primitivism examines film, digital art, and electronic music produced by African artists in relation to other modes of transfer and transmutation.
Delinda Collier is Associate Professor or Art History, Theory and Criticism and Interim Dean of Graduate Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research interests are in old and new media in Africa, Luso-African Art, and Cold War modernisms. She is the author of Repainting the Walls of Lunda: Information Colonialism and Angolan Art (University of Minnesota, 2016) and Media Primitivism: Technological Art in Africa (Duke, 2020), among many articles, essays, and reviews.
Leslie Wilson is Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Art at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art and Assistant Professor of Art History at Purchase College, the State University of New York. Her research focuses on the global history of photography, modern and contemporary arts of Africa, the African diaspora, and America, and museum and curatorial studies. Her writing has been featured in Manual, FOAM Magazine, and African Arts, among others.
Transfer and Transmutation
Streaming October 11 - 17