Arts and Humanities
10:00 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Video Artist Collaborative Plays with Past, Future

Acclaimed experimental artist Eve Sussman will give a free lecture on her work Thursday at 21C Museum Hotel. The event is produced in partnership with Kentucky School of Art visiting artist program. The talk starts at 7 p.m. with a reception for the artist to follow.

Sussman will discuss several video installations she created with Rufus Corporation, her collaborative artist think-tank. Together, they make experimental films like “89 Seconds at Alcazar,” a recreation of painter Diego Velazquez’s 17th century masterpiece “Las Meninas” and “Rape of the Sabine Women,” which updates the Roman myth to the 1960s. 

“We play a lot with history, and with ideas of the history and the past, and try to conflate visions of the future and visions of utopia,” says Sussman.

Rufus Corporation’s films have been exhibited around the world, including in Madrid’s Reina Sofia and the 2004 Whitney Biennial.

As part of her talk, Sussman will screen excerpts from video projects like “whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir,” a non-linear film that mixes up notions of the future and the past. Filmed in Kazakhstan and around Central Asia, the film emerged from the particular landscape of emerging oil countries.

“We found ourselves in this wild landscape that was a mixture of desert and a sort of weird future utopian futurism from 50 years ago,” says Sussman. “On one hand you look at it and you think it’s completely unattractive, but on the other hand it shows all the human hubris rolled into one crazy ball.”

“whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir” is what Sussman calls an “endless film,” created from conventional film and sound material (about 3,000 film and video clips, 180 pieces of music and 80 voiceovers) the team tagged and subjected to data-querying algorithms. The narrative is created live as the film screens, never presenting in the same order twice.

“The machine is driving the edits,” says Sussman. “We designed the machine, and we built the machine, but then ultimately—like HAL—you become in conflict with the machine, so there are all these ideas about the future and artificial intelligence.”

Like other Rufus Corporation films, Sussman says “whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir” plays with past ideas of the ideal future.

“The little narrative going on in this fake film noir is about this guy trying to work in this place that’s supposed to be the perfect future, but looks a lot like this 1970s ex-Soviet landscape,” says Sussman. “That was at one point a utopian vision of the future as well so there’s this double entendre.”

View a sample sequence of "whiteonwhite."