Scott Stark: The Realist
I see each film/video project as a “first film” with its own cinematic language, one that the viewer learns and engages with as the piece unfolds. This language is shaped by the particular mechanics of each medium, in the same way verbal language is shaped by the mechanics of the human mouth. Thus each film charts the possibility of a pre-cinema experience, one that might have evolved had not narrative and commerce been cinema’s prevailing motivational forces.
Working systematically across his career in virtually all film formats (including analog and digital video, installation and multi-projector performance), Scott Stark has produced more than sixty films and videos since 1980. Abounding with a prowling visuality, an astonishing sense of sound/image synthesis and an acute appreciation for filmic physicality, the cinema of Scott Stark exists ecstatically at the points of collision of between cinematic structure (self-imposed limitations) and the invasive and exhilarating chaos of the so-called real world, a world which is always seeping in between his frames. Frequently incorporating wry considerations of work, leisure time, personal performativity and representation while simultaneously playing with viewers’ expectations of narrativity and conventional cinematic processes, Stark’s amazingly diverse body of film/video work embodies sometimes bemused, sometimes critical considerations of life as it passes. The daily commute, the corporate cubicle, shopping malls, beaches and hotel hallways—all these and more have provided backdrops for Stark’s eager examinations and stately considerations of the daily rituals and day-to-day roles of humans living in the world, resulting in a body of work as humorous and socially engaging as it is exhilaratingly experiential. On the occasion of the his completion of The Realist—a major new work, literally years in the making—Cinematheque celebrates Scott Stark in CROSSROADS 2013 with this sampler program of three recent works, plus a wonderful lost oddity by Fernand Léger. (Steve Polta)
The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart (1947) by Fernand Léger; screened as video, color, sound
Fernand Léger’s contribution to Hans Richter’s omnibus work Dreams Money Can Buy (1947).
Oh Venus was born out of sea foam
Oh Venus was born out of brine
But a goddess today if she is grade A
Is assembled upon the assembly line
Her chromium nerves and her platinum brain
Were chastely encased in cellophane
And to top off this daughter of science and art
She was equipped with a prefabricated heart.
—John Latouche: “The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart”
Compressive/Percussive (2010) by Scott Stark; digital video for two projectors, color, sound, 18 minutes, from the maker
“Compressive/Percussive is a double-projector performance using two digital-video projectors. The imagery is taken from a double-decker interstate freeway a few blocks from my current residence in Austin TX. At certain times of day, this monstrous structure, which years ago laid waste to a thriving neighborhood and divided the city between the haves on the west and the have-nots on the east, comes alive with a mesmerizing interplay of light, shadow and rapidly moving vehicles. The sequences are all randomly edited using a random sequence generator I developed for Final Cut Pro, with cuts between four and ten frames in length.” (Scott Stark)
Longhorn Tremolo (2010) by Scott Stark; digital video, color, sound, 17 minutes, from the maker
“Excited football fans move through a visually kinetic space in slow motion toward their goal.” (Scott Stark)
The Realist (2013) by Scott Stark; digital video, color, sound, 40 minutes, from the maker. world premiere.
Music: Tunnel-Funnel. Daniel Goode, composer.
“The Realist is a highly-abstracted melodrama, storyboarded with flickering still photographs, peopled with department store mannequins and located in the visually heightened universe of clothing displays, fashion islands and storefront windows.
“The Realist is a soaring visual romp peppered with turgid melodramatic moments, flickering visual rhythms that border on abstraction and seductive images of commercial products with their dubious promises of physical nourishment and fashionable allure. In the process, The Realist examines our own relationship to consumerist culture: We see in these commercial displays idealized, pre-packaged renderings of our own needs, desires and identities. Perhaps on some level [...] we are what we buy.” (Scott Stark)