Lynn Marie Kirby - Latent Light Excavations (2003-2007)

The works in Latent Light Excavations begin with a visit by Lynn Marie Kirby to the sites named in the titles of the works (for instance the Pyramid Lake Piaute Reservation). At the site, Kirby, in a performative gesture, exposes a roll of film directly to the light. The film is processed, then transferred to a digital editing deck. Kirby then improvises on the deck with the transferred footage. She writes, “The resulting work is the ‘residue’ of a real-time performance on the film to digital transfer deck.” Icons in the digital deck – shapes such as circles and pyramids which are used to help filmmakers in the editing process – are here prominently featured on screen as visual motifs, “articulating the machine realm between the realms of film and digital.”

Kirby’s on-site gesture of exposing the film to light, her real-time improvisation on the editing deck, the outrageously vibrant color in constantly surprising juxtapositions, and the iconographic shapes that suddenly appear, enlarge, disappear, leave faint traces of color, then come back to once again swallow the screen – all of these elements in combination create not only an amazing visual energy but also a strong sense of ritual in the digital realm. (The recurring circles and pyramids are reminiscent of occult symbols such as those found in the films of Kenneth Anger.)

A similar sense of iconography pervades several other selections on tonight’s program, including some of Guy Sherwin’s short films, and Saul Levine’s Light Licks: Get It While You Can. According to Levine, the Light Licks series is “made frame by frame often by flooding the camera with enough light to spill beyond the gate into the frame left unexposed.” Specifically, he points the camera at a bright light source, opens the aperture and “unfocuses” the lens. In Get It While You Can this flooding of the camera creates subtle hues of red and purple coming out of the darkness or alternating rapidly with the light. Eventually a mysterious circle appears on the screen, an echo not only of the camera’s wide-open lens but of the viewer’s eye as well the sun – an occurrence that supports Levine’s characterization of the films as “ecstatic” and inspired in part by “mystic visionary practice.” In a recent email, Levine explained that the Light Licks films are concerned with “using the camera as a light gatherer and the film in the projector as a means of inflecting the projectors light.”

-Andy Ditzler

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