Electric Breath

Electric Breath is a screening series that traces Frankensteinian themes in film history and contemporary video and animation. From monstrous avatars struggling to thrive in, or escape from, virtual worlds to animal-headed humans narrating a drowned city, the screening presents a forecast by turns satirical, dreamy and dystopian. Works by Marina Zurkow, Claudia Hart, Eva Davidova, Takashi Murata, Carla Gannis, Erika Lynn HansonEdison Studios and Hilary Harp and Suzie Silver explore the parables that haunt modernity’s ongoing encounter with the seductions of technology. An outdoor screening will take place on the lawn next to University Club and an indoor series will screen inside the building in the Sky Room. Look below for descriptions of each piece.

Electric Breath was curated by Meredith Drum.
Emerge Festival of Futures 2017 was curated by Dehlia Hannah.

EMERGE is an annual transmedia art, science and technology festival designed to engage diverse publics in the creative exploration of our possible futures. The festival’s 2017 theme is Frankenstein, a 200-year old novel that still motivates us to think critically about our creative agency and scientific responsibility. This year EMERGE invites visitors into a house of wonder filled with speculative technologies, fortune tellers, music and film, and performative experiments that blur the boundaries between art and science. The festival revisits the past in order to reframe our sense of the present and inspire imagination of plausible futures, and asks what we can learn today by looking at emerging science and technology through the lens of art.

EMERGE focuses a critical eye on the future implications research taking place on campus and around the world. Visit us at the University Club and the Piper Lawn February 25th, from 3-9PM at Arizona State University for installations and performances designed for all ages.

Eva Davidova’s Bird Birth 2017 with sound by Hans Tammen

Bird Birth, 2017
with sound by Hans Tammen
photo-based and 3D animation loop. 01.57

A red airplane blanket emerges from between the legs of a woman, evoking the pouring forth of blood. Her slow movements, created by merging a sequence of stills, are strange and distorted, but exhibit unmistakably the effort and strain of a woman giving birth. With difficulty, a dead 3D bird is born, and then another, with plastic twisted through their stomachs. 

Bird Birth is a visceral dream image of the human role in ecological disaster. In our anthropocene world, animals are often marked by human behavior even before they are born. Collapsing the remoteness between our actions and their outcome, this animation makes a connection of flesh from human cause to animal effect.

Eva Davidova speaks about the transfer of cruelty from an individual decision to one facet in a complex network of decisions. The more complicated the entanglement, the more easily we can deny our personal participation in cruelty—cruelty inflicted on nature, animals, and on other people. Accepting that we are not the makers of reality, but merely those who live in it, makes ideological room for the chaos we wreak upon nature and each other.

Since the start of her project Global Mode in 2015, Davidova has increasingly worked with the mixture of our human bodies with those of animals, and with the deceptive, nebulous body of “data”. Baffled by the depth of recurring monstrosities—and the ways in which they are further propagated by the broken links between our mental positions and our actual behaviors—Davidova is making bonds with 3D animals and mythological characters, pushing to set in motion an action, however (no matter how) absurd.

Davidova’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Claudia Hart’s Dark kNight, 2012

Dark kNight
2012, 12-minute 3D animated loop for installation

Dark kNight, 2012, is Hart’s response to Christopher Nolan’s 2012 film, The Dark Knight Rises, depicting the attempt of one of her avatars to break free of the simulated world behind the screen. In creating Dark kNight (spelling intentional), 2012, Hart felt it was time to begin a migration out of the sanctuary cacoon of her earlier automatons. She represents the attempt of this defiant one to break free of the simulated sanctuary world behind the screen.

The popular Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Rises, is a film about escape from imprisonment and the powers that deem who is and isn’t to be imprisoned. With the film’s two highly independent, physically athletic and defiant female characters, both of whom have escaped their own entrapment, Hart was immediately prompted to envision her own restless, racially-hybrid female avatar trying out various strategies to escape virtuality.

In the video we see her hurling herself against the screen; swinging from her feet by a rope and hitting the screen full body; catapulting like a human cannonball into the screen; and as seen here, swinging with a rope by her hands and hitting the screen with her feet–all seen at various speeds.

Hart claims the mythological source for the figure, besides Nolan’s Batman, is the chained Prometheus, bound by the Olympian gods for bringing fire to humankind. Artistically she is inspired by Michaelangelo’s Dying Captives, who appear to struggle in their efforts to release themselves from their prisons of stone.

– Excerpted from Women’s Mythopoetic Art: Going Back to Start, Heroically by Roger Denson, Huffington Post, 8/13/2012

Hart’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Carla Gannis’s A Subject Self-Defined, 2016

Carla Gannis :: A Subject Self-Defined
Season 4 : Nude Descending a Staircase (top)  Monkey on Your Back, Post-Selfie, Electronic Graveyard No. 2 / The Upload
4K video (looped animation), 2016

Carla Gannis’s A Subject Self-Defined, a collection of large-format looped moving images, takes its title from Joseph Kosuth’s 1966 neon sculpture that spells out and is eponymously titled “A Subject Self-Defined.” Kosuth belonged to a group of artists involved in stripping down the art object, reducing it to ideas and information that were detached from personal meaning. Fifty-one years later, in the age of networked identity and digital dematerialization, Gannis is perplexed by subjecthood and self-definition in relationship to the “personal” when performed publicly.

Gannis’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Marina Zurkow’s Slurb

Slurb , 2009
Duration: 17’42” (loop)
Edition of 6 plus 2 A/Ps
Color, animation and stereo sound
Format: Mac Mini or media player
Dimensions variable, (dimensions in pixels): 1920 x 1080
Music by Lem Jay Ignacio
Additional animation: Jen Kelly
Commissioned by the City of Tampa, for Lights on Tampa 2009

The animated, carnivalesque tailgate party of Slurb loops and stutters like a vinyl record stuck in a groove. Slurb – a word that collapses “slum” and “suburb” – encapsulates a dreamy ode to the rise of slime, a watery future in which jellyfish have dominion.

There is a history of satirical illustration, epitomized by J.J.Grandville in the 19th century, in which animal-headed humans are deployed in the telling of troubling social narratives. Slurb is that kind of cartoon. Facts of the ocean’s radical changes in acidity and oxygen levels form the backbone of the animation; overfishing, dumping, and climate change’s heating of ocean currents have already triggered a reversion toward a primordial sea in parts of the ocean larger than the state of Texas. Slurb’s surface is inspired by fictions, like J.G. Ballard’s prescient 1962 novel Drowned World, in which inhabitants of a flooded world feel the tug of the sun, and dream of a return to their amniotic past.

Zurkow’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Katie Torn’s Breathe Deep

Breathe Deep, 2014, Single Channel Video

New York-based artist Katie Torn integrates 3D computer graphics and video to model virtually simulated scenes out of the detritus of internet and consumer culture. Collecting discarded products and elements available online, Torn’s digital assemblages carry traces of past consumer eras and web browsing histories. Referencing 20th century investigations into pictorial space and representations of the body found in the Modernist traditions of Cubism and Futurism, Torn abstracts and mechanizes female forms to create fantasy worlds that could only exist in a digital realm.

“Breathe Deep is a kaleidoscope of 80’s and 90’s popular culture with dozens of localized perspectives, mixing two- and three-dimensional representations without physical constraints. The resulting virtual sculpture unifies these disparate layers, either captured from real-world objects like plastic toys and fake plants or inspired from digital artifacts like animated GIFs or fish swarms originating from nostalgic screen savers. Katie Torn, growing up in this time of hyper-capitalism, delivers a hindsight portrait of a constantly overwhelmed female body, collecting and blending superficial entities manically – to defend the status quo of a fully destabilized, veneer world.” -Robert Seidel, artist and curator

Breathe Deep was commissioned by the Denver Theater District / Denver Digerati 2014

Torn’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Hilary Harp + Suzie Silver’s Obligate Symbionts of Colubus Grand

Obligate Symbionts of Colubus Grand, 2012, 6.4-minute video and 2D animation, created for Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities.

In the solar system 18 Scorpii, located some 45.3 light years from Earth at the northern edge of the Scorpius constellation, two planets have evolved cultures of profound mutual symbiotic reliance. The crystal-like kalataka of planet Janus have a mating cycle tuned to their planet’s orbit around the star 18 Scorpii. Coincidentally, the kalataka are at their most fertile just as the planet Tarzanus is at the point in it’s orbit that brings it closest to Janus.

Harp + Silver’s bios can be found on the About page.

Marina Zurkow’s Elixir I, II, III, IV

Elixir I, II, III, IV, 
Series of four works
(4) 5:00 minute loops
Editions of 7
Animation, sound/silent
Format: Dimensions variable; custom framed 24″ monitor with MPlayer, or MPlayer only for 1920×1080 projection or monitor
Sound for installation versions by Pat Irwin.

The Elixir pieces describe impossible landscapes: cut-crystal bottles bob and toss like buoys in the ocean, beacons bearing potions, poisons, messages, genies. Each bottle contains an animated figure engaged in a repeated, metronomic action. In Elixir I, a woman is rowing; Elixir II, a blindfolded man stumbles to stay upright. Elixir III holds a little girl trying to fly with paper wings; and in Elixir IV, a high diver twists and arcs, while the bottle presses forward in an Antarctic landscape. The highly layered video treatment pays tribute to the 19th century Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky, whose portentous, luminous paintings of tiny ships on huge swells of ocean both mesmerize and terrify the viewer.

“Zurkow plays with motion and fixity, the graticule projecting from its enlightenment centering and creating, drawing out and forth a landscape that never has existed quite: but that may now be describing a new polar circumferencing. And the possibilities of this landscape are also internal, or not seen on official maps.”

– Elena Glasberg, notes from The Anthropogenic Landscape and Feminist Art Practice

Zurkow’s bio can be found on the About Page.

Takeshi Murata’s Monster Movie

Monster Movie by Takeshi Murata
2005, 3:55 min, color, sound

Takeshi Murata continues to push the boundaries of digitally manipulated psychedelia. In Monster Movie Murata employs an exacting frame-by-frame technique to turn a bit of B-movie footage (from the 1981 film Caveman) into a seething, fragmented morass of color and shape that decomposes and reconstitutes itself thirty times per second.

Title rented from EAI.

Murata’s bio can be found on the About Page

Erika Lynn Hanson’s Initial Encounters: like meets like, glacier and iceberg

Initial Encounters: like meets like, glacier and iceberg
2016, 2-channel video

From his essay “From Things Flow What We Call Time,” Timothy Morton writes: “Ecology is weird because it is the uncanny realization that there were always already other beings. Awareness of ecological beings – a meadow, a city, a coral reef, a microbe – is in a loop”

Initial Encounters explores strategies for establishing relationships between objects— the landscape and that which inhabit it (humans, rocks, trees, water, etc).  The work utilizes performance, video, and textiles to propose a location for dialogue— for a non-anthropocentric social engagement. As a material foundation, handwoven flags serve symbolically as both marker of territory and representative object. Set in the Arctic— the glacial north of Alaska’s Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Icelands glacial lake, Jökulsárlón notions inherent to ice, such as, permeance, state change, and slipperiness meander into the field of questioning. 

Erika’s bio can be found on the About page.