Mills Folly Microcinema hosts the first 2023 showcase of work by Madison-based filmmakers and artists at Arts + Literature Laboratory on March 15.
The Mills Folly Microcinema series returns this week at Arts + Literature Laboratory for 2023’s first installment of Project Projection, its wide-ranging, seasonal showcase of film and video shorts by Madison-based filmmakers. This program’s 14 films fall roughly into two categories; the first of these is music videos, and any fan of Madison music will find something to love in the selections’ diversity of musical genres and visual styles. ViBRATiONLAND’s video for “Stabacab” (dir. Eric J. Nelson) may take the cake for most ingenious of the bunch, using everyday objects like a CPAP tube and silly putty to make an alternately adorable and horrifying piece of stop-motion creature horror.
Moving further into pure abstraction, B. Hayes’ video for “Ovation” (dir. Max Wasinger and Peregrine Balas) is similarly visually voracious, with its collaged and datamoshed black-and-white footage smearing into gorgeous swirls. The only non-contemporary piece on the program, Gretta Wing Miller’s Man In Space (1981) splits the difference between the musical pieces and the rest of the video work, editing spacewalk footage to Beatles songs and reveling in nostalgia for the late ’60s.
For the other half of the works, experimental video like David Boffa’s A Due Remembrance Of Wolves (2021) takes the mantle. This minimalist nature doc trains its eye on two wolves at their leisure for most of its runtime; a narrator reads 19th century texts on the danger of the animal, usually offering bounties for hunters to exterminate the “vermin.” This penchant for appropriated text is shared by another standout of the program, Chloë Simmons’ Passing Through (2020), with its short GIF-like loops that are littered with digital detritus as scrolling words recite the textbook definitions of broad concepts like cause and effect, truth, and signs. Simmons’ piece is dense and heady, but also one that skillfully explores its title’s double entendres with a thoughtful reflection on queer identity.
Some other videos are more abstract, content to explore an aesthetic for its own sake like in Alex T. Jacobs’ serene snow light (2023). As ambient-treated piano rolls underneath the eight-minute shot of a streetlight under snowfall, Jacobs manipulates the footage so that the light’s halo expands into a dazzling pixelated rainbows. It’s one of the simplest works on the program, but one that ties it all together in highlighting both the natural beauty and artistic skill that can be found in Madison.
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