Throughline Works

January 12 – March 18

Jennifer Proctor / A MOVIE by Jen Proctor

In editing together a diverse set of clips from YouTube and LiveLeak, Jen Proctor re-imagines Bruce Connor’s seminal found footage film A MOVIE (1958) for the digital era. In the 1958 original, Conner assembles clips from newsreels, westerns, soft-core pornography, travelogues, and other sources to create a dizzying procession of images depicting the triumphs and follies of the human experience. Depicting a wide scope of activities—from bombs dropping to cars crashing to bridges collapsing—A MOVIE splices together a tapestry of our collective fears, desires, and aspirations culled from popular culture, re-presenting them to the audience in a provocative and, at times, unsettling manner. Proctor, in an almost shot-for-shot remake, carries this method into the 21st century and explores how these historical and visual icons have both evolved and remained the same over the intervening decades. Proctor’s A MOVIE sources materials from the deep well of video content offered by the online world, commenting on the pervasiveness of material available for re-appropriation and how this ever-expanding flow of information continues to reflect the fears, desires, and aspirations of contemporary society—all of which are now funneled through social media channels, streaming video, and a global network of interconnected digital devices.

Watch Conner’s original side-by-side with Proctor’s remake to see these works in direct dialogue with each other.

A MOVIE by Jen Proctor (2010-2012, Jennifer Proctor, digital video, 11:45)

Evan Meaney & Amy Szczepanski / Big_Sleep™

Big_Sleep™ is a documentary and poetic essay-film taking place entirely within the space of the artist’s computer desktop. Multiple windows open to display video clips, text, images, and software, often overlapping and drawing the viewer’s attention to multiple places at once. The work explores the “archival urge,” or the collective desire to indefinitely preserve the films, photographs, documents, and other objects which constitute a record of the past, and the many challenges related to sustaining these collections in museums, archives, and other collecting institutions. Using the work of William Birch, one of the most prolific newsreel cinematographers of the 20th century, as a kind of case-study, Big_Sleep™ surveys the efforts of archivists to preserve motion-pictures using digital technology and reveals the inherently melancholy and existential nature of this labor. Through multiple voice-overs with experts in the field and the use of archival audio, viewers hear explanations of preservation and digitization processes alongside intimate recordings made between Birch and his family, infusing the technical challenges of preservation with a dimension of humanity and strong emotional themes. The paradox of digitization—that it both increases access to archival materials but puts it at great risk of loss due to file corruption and technological changes—begs questions related to how and if future generations will be able to access materials from our current moment and how “found footage” filmmaking will persist.

Additionally, as part of their larger project exploring archival practices, Meaney, Szczepanski and their collaborators developed the Big_Sleep™ Media Encoder, a tool for preserving digital data in a permanently stable but permanently inaccessible file-format. This piece also serves a “software demo” of this process wherein the clips shown are also being encoded into this format.

Learn more about the larger Big_Sleep™ project by visiting the artist’s website

Big_Sleep™ (2015, Evan Meaney & Amy Szczepanski, digital video, 27:44)