Friday, September 19, 2014, 12:00 am

Craig Baldwin: ¡O No Coronado! & Wild Gunman

celebrating Artists' Television Access' 30th Anniversary


992 Valencia Street (at 21st Street)

San Francisco, CA 94110

presented in association with Artists' Television Access $7-$10 admission; tickets available at door.

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Craig Baldwin, ATA co-founder and organizer of the Other Cinema series of experimental and underground film/video and performance, is celebrated through two programs of his amazing and influential work exploiting found and archival footage embedded in countercultural sensibilities. The screening is introduced by Steve Polta.

¡O No Coronado!: Coronado, one of the least successful conquistadors, is perfectly suited to Baldwin’s purposes in part because his motivation is so blatantly delusional. Arriving in Mexico in 1538, he set out on a fruitless quest to find the imaginary Seven Cities of Cibola. Crossing the desert and the Rio Grande, Coronado explored what is now Arizona and New Mexico, stumbling across the Grand Canyon and engaging in numerous needless fights wit the Indians. The non-existent cities of gold led his expedition as far afield as present-day Kansas, before returning to Mexico City in sodden disarray.

Baldwin illustrates this empty quest with a melange of images culled from swashbucklers and westerns, classroom movies and museum paintings. Christian cartoons and industrial documentaries. He uses whatever comes to hand. This pragmatism produces a richness of metaphor. A clip from an old Vincent Price film stands in for the Inquisition. Coronado is occasionally visualized as Gulliver; when his Indian guide leads him astray, he’s the Lone Ranger, accompanied by Tonto (and, quite poetically, a few passages from Ravel’s Bolero. When necessary, the narrative is goosed along with a few costume dramatizations. (Coronado is played by a goofy-looking actor in a Spanish helmet). Everything is tied together with generic sci-fi music, strategic sound effects, and two narrators (one specializing in boastful rants), Baldwin is more honest (than regular historical documentaries) in representing the present, interviewing not scholars but tourists and locals: “Coronado: isn’t that a shopping mall around here?” If you want to schlockument the box populi, this is how. (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)

Wild GunmanMobilizing wildly diverse found-footage fragments, obsessive optical printing, and a dense “musique concrète” soundtrack, a maniac montage of pop-cultural amusements, cowboy iconography, and advertising imagery is re-contextualized within the contemporary geopolitical crisis in a scathing critique of U.S. cultural and political imperialism.

2nd program: 9 PM (Sonic Outlaws)