Friday, February 24, 2023, 7:00 pm

George Kuchar: 8mm Weather Diaries

presented association with Variable Density at the 4 Star Theater

4 Star Theater

2200 Clement Street

San Francisco, CA, 94121

pictured above: Weather Diary 2 (1987) by George Kuchar

Admission: $15 General/$12.50 Cinematheque Members
Event tickets here

SCREENING: 1980 Seven (1987) and Weather Diary 2 (1987) by George Kuchar

San Francisco Cinematheque is thrilled to collaborate with San Francisco’s 4 Star Theater in the inaugural screening in its Variable Density series, a monthly screening series of experimental film. The Variable Density series opens with two 1987 8mm video diaries by the great San Francisco film/video artist George Kuchar!

…Exhibiting the rawness of video verite and the theatricality of fiction, [George Kuchar’s] self-narrated tapes record close-up observations of the personal routines and social interactions of Kuchar's daily life. Infused with humor and melancholy, these documents of the banal and intimate details of the everyday are punctuated with Kuchar's conversations, wry monologues, introspective musings and muttered asides.

[…] With an eccentric presence that pervades these "home videos," Kuchar veers from the scatological to the sublime in his close-up forays into the kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms of friends and family across the country. These remarkable video journals often resonate with an unexpected poetry. For example, [the] Weather Diaries, in which Kuchar observes weather and food from dreary motel rooms in Oklahoma, reveals alienation and loneliness in the rural American landscape. (Electronic Arts Intermix)


1980 Seven (1987) by George Kuchar; video, color, sound, 28 minutes, exhibition file from Video Data Bank
           Meet local San Francisco artists and the pets of the culturally inclined, as George prepares to take a trip. “This piece is sort of a prologue to East by Southwest. I prepare for that trip while visiting local artists here in San Francisco. You get to see unique sculpture by Mike Rudnick and meet the offspring and pets of the culturally inclined. There is also a gallery encounter with the late filmmaker, Curt McDowell, who attends an opening of his photomontages." (George Kuchar)

Weather Diary 2 (1987) by George Kuchar; video, color, sound, 28 minutes, exhibition file from Video Data Bank
           This whole thing started because of my interest in nature. Since I was a city boy, living in The Bronx, nature came to me via the colorful tapestry of sky that loomed above the tenements. The awe of summer thunderstorms, smothering blizzards and window rattling nor'easters left a lasting impression on me. I sought out, via library books, the superstars of this meteorological majesty and read up on hurricanes, tornadoes and other terrors that occasionally whirled into urban awareness. Loving to draw and paint, I happened to come upon the books of Eric Sloane. He was an artist very interested in Americana and American weather. His beautifully illustrated volumes on the atmosphere were of great aesthetic and scientific value to me. I learned how to read the clouds and it made going out everyday a kind of heavenly horoscope. Eventually I was lucky enough to get a job doing weather maps for a local NBC news show. Frank Fields was the weatherman on that program, and he was astounded that I knew what the clouds accompanying storm fronts looked like. Previous visual artists had drawn amorphous-looking atrocities that resembled deflated duffle bags. Mine were anatomically correct aerial artifacts of blossoming beauty. His weather maps were my chance to display the knowledge I had acquired from Eric Sloane and from scanning the skies with new eyes. I developed a fascination with thunderstorms and the furious whirlwinds they sometimes unleashed on the landscape. Instead of just reading accounts of these monstrous whirling dervishes and the lives of those caught in the vicinity of the vortex, I decided to take an airplane and go to where they huffed and puffed. So I wound up in Oklahoma City during springtime. I'd stay at the YMCA for three or four weeks and try to absorb, on all levels, the mysterious elements that now obsessed me. I was young and time stretched ahead of me in a seemingly endless event horizon. Perhaps I could fill my head with images and sound that previously had only come from reading books on this subject. This would be the real thing. I am not a storm chaser as I never learned how to drive a car. I wanted to experience springtime storms on the American plains like the simple folk I read about in those library books. Therefore the videos in the weather diaries depict the turmoil, tedium, terror and televised terrain of tornado country through the eyes of a transplant. At times I try to blend in, to digest the alien ambiance, the fast food and slow-motion days. Ailments galore pepper the series along with glimpses of those who pass like gas, vapors of vitality to sniff at with a gizmo that doesn't have a nose. But I do hope you enjoy what its eye captures on this journey of jubilant junk food and delightful dread. (George Kuchar)