Monday, April 4, 2016

4/6/16 RAPTURE curated by Saul Levine




FLY by YOKO ONO, 1970, VHS 27MIN


RAPTURE, by Paul Sharits, 1987 video 20MIN

A pseudo "rock video" which will never be shown on MTV. There are often visual resemblances between grief and joy and between mystical experiences and the varieties of body contortions of convulsive psychotic states (just as there can be a fine line between the "beautiful" and the "repulsive"--some of Goya's late monster paintings are an example) . "Rapture" is defined as a state of being ecstatically carried away. There is a thin line which I attempt to portray in these tableaux, the border line between the sublime and the repulsive. I wish to have the viewer respond to the tape in an intense but very ambiguous way. One interesting example of the relation of convulsive and ecstatic states is found in the similarities of brain waves of advanced Zen monks, at satori peak levels, and epileptics having grand mal seizures . At the onset of both the satori and seizure states there are greatly amplified alpha waves, which, at certain points of intensity, shift to high amplitude theta waves. The difference between these nearly identical patterns is that all of the epileptic's brain waves become synchronized and his/her mind is flooded while
the Zen monk is trained to allow only one region of the brain to move into a deep theta state and the monk will not visually exhibit any body convulsions. Also, aside from Christian literature stating such things as St.Theresa lifting off the ground in ecstasy, it is well known that shamans, voodoo practitioners, et al . are known to self-induce physical states which resemble convulsions and who for purposes of religious ecstasy/catharsis/insight often collapse after muscular spasms . Perhaps the notion of catharsis is applicable in some of these rites. At the technical level, the chief post-production tool was the ADO (Ampex Digital Optics), a 2-channel digital video synchronizer which digitizes the entire screen image, allowing one to control size, shape, direction, movement, etc. of the whole picture . This is a device often used in T .V . commercials but is an "effect" which is used as one gimmick among many other electrogimmicks. I've tried to use it as a creative device and to articulate it in a more extensive and meaningful way .
"A fierce vision of Dionysian ecstasy"--C .E .P .A., Buffalo
T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G 1968 by Paul Sharits, 16MM 12MIN
Made in collaboration with poet David Franks, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G uses flickering of pure color frames juxtaposed with positive and negative still images of Franks threatening to cut off his tongue with glitter-covered scissors and being scratched across the face by fingernails that leave a sparkling trail. Other rapidly alternating still images of eye surgery and a couple in the midst of intercourse are used to heighten the underlying violent, erotic and psychological undertones of the film and are recurrent themes that Sharits would repeatedly pursue in many of his films. The soundtrack is a continuous looped recording of Franks speaking the word “destroy” over the entire length of the film, which eventually becomes unrecognizable as it mutates in the viewer’s ear into other words or phrases. The first of Sharits’ mandala films to utilize sound in a powerful way, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G was an attempt by the filmmaker to reconnect and come to terms with both his mother’s suicide and the birth of his son, events that would have a profound impact on his future films as well.
'merges violence with purity.' - P. Adams Sitney. 'Surrealist tour de force' - Parker Tyler. On the '10 best films of 1969'

FLY by Yoko Ono, 1970, VHS 27MIN
Filmed in a New York attic in two days. John and Yoko asked New York actress Virginia Lust to lie down naked whilst they filmed a fly exploring her body. Approximately 200 flies were used and each had to be stunned with a special gas. The film showed a fly traversing the girl's body from her toes to her head, exploring every part. It was claimed that Virginia Lust also had to be sedated during the filming.

NEAR THE BIG CHAKRA by Anne Severson/Parker, 1972, DVD 17MIN
An unhurried view of 37 human female vaginas – ranging in age from three months to 56 years.
“The impression made by this film, its impact – has been enormous. … This film is a new approach to our femininity.” – Agnes Varda, Image and Sound