1- PIXELVISION: ELECTRONIC FOLK ART - Gerry Fialka, Director of the PXL THIS Film Festival, presents an interactive workshop on the Fisher-Price PXL-2000 toy video camera. He explores the significance of this raw DIY moving image art tool through the percepts of Marshall McLuhan, George Seaurat, Salvador Dali, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Frank Zappa & more. James Wickstead invented the plastic camcorder and Fisher-Price produced it from 1987 to 1989. It records picture and sound directly onto audio cassettes, which creates its grainy look. Another distinguishing feature is its "in-focus" capability from zero to infinity. The "in your face" attitude restores a certain human vitality to the overpowering sensory overload that bombards us daily. It illustrates Marshall McLuhan's percept that television is tactile - you can practically touch the dots, all 2,000 of them (as opposed to the 150,000 you normally see on TV). Orson Welles said that a movie studio is "the biggest electric train set a kid ever had." On the other end of the spectrum, the PXL-2000 video camera is the cheesiest failed toy ever -- a train crashes in the playpen. Yet, in the hands of visionary video-makers, it has become an essential tool of cutting-edge creativity. This workshop can include screening of BEST of PXL THIS 13-17, a 90 minute compilation of films made with the Fisher Price toy video camera from across the world. The irresistible irony of the PXL is that the camera's ease-of-use and affordability, which entirely democratizes movie-making, has inspired the creation of some of the most visionary, avant and luminous film of our time. Also can screen the latest PXL THIS, here's Holly Willis' rave in the LA WEEKLY http://ww w.laweekly.com/2009-03-05/film-tv/the-kids-stay-in-the-pxl/
2- WHO'S JAMMIN' THE CULTURE JAMMERS? - Media ecologist Gerry Fialka presents an interactive workshop on subversive artists and pranksters who inflict brand damage to expose corporate manipulation of America's mediascape. Fialka probes Marshall McLuhan 's Laws of Media in correlation with revolutionary artists (including Craig Baldwin, Barbie Liberation Organization, Rev. Billy - Church of Stop Shopping, Billboard Liberation Front, and Bob Dobbs) providing new critical perspectives with surprise, humor and the thrill of transgression. Join this agitprop examination of the motives and consequences of the jammer's collaboration with the jammee. When Sputnik went up fifty years ago, McLuhan upgraded the global village to the global theater, and we all became actors. Visit: www.venicewake.org Plus ultra rare clips of Lenny Bruce, Ernie Kovacs, Lord Buckley, Marshall McLuhan, James Joyce and John Cage. “A put-on is not necessarily a put-down. I liken what I do sometimes to a life game, as an adventure in absurdity, an adult fairytale in which I engage people emotionally and intellectually. The audience gets involved and has to decide for itself what’s going on and what’s to be learned from the experience. Everybody is a participant." - Alan Abel.. Includes a screening of JAM Z JAMMERZ: SEE, REAPPEAR & BREATHE (14 minutes, 2008) - As agitprop archaeologists, Mark X Farina & Gerry Fialka's provocative film probes how the 50's music/comedy icons John Cage (noise as music, side effects in silence), Korla Pandit (the Hammond Organ as drum, fake identity), Lenny Bruce (speech as jazz, grievance), Ernie Kovacs (visual effects as Surrealism, Mennipean tactic of the "fourth wall") and Lord Buckley (narrative as living organism, elevation not put-down) laid the groundwork for contemporary culture hammers. They reinvented Beckett's "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness," and Steve Allen's "Behind every joke there's a grievance." Their reappearance offers new questions: Did the electric environment kill or save humanity? Did television renew the art museum? Why did James Joyce make TV the hidden ground in his 1939 book FINNEGANS WAKE? Can the banality of satellite-speed-up cause epiphanies? What have we forgotten about social amnesia? Who is jamming the jammers? Re-channeling George Melies and Marcel Duchamp, JAM Z JAMMERS reinvigorates and mirrors how these visionaries elevated self-irony to uncover the ambiguity and complexity of ecstasy and numbness. "The audience is the employer." - Marshall McLuhan. "I find TV very educational. Every time someone turns on a set I go in the other room and read a book." - Grouch Marx. "When you are laughing, you're learning." - Robert Dobbs. "Satire is tragedy plus time" - Lenny Bruce.
3- KEEPING UPSET WITH THE JONESES: ADVERTISING AS ART - Media ecologist Gerry Fialka's interactive workshop probes the cultural and historical context of advertising as art and Marshall McLuhan's axiom "Advertising is the cave art of the 20th century." Both ads and art eschew rational arguments for symbols, magic and imagery that play directly to our emotions. Much like art, ads have a profound influence which is based on deep knowledge of personal and collective impulses. Join this media yoga session that interconnects Maxfield Parrish, James Thurber, Ansel Adams, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Absolut vodka and myriads more. Word artists Charles Dickens, Henry James, James Joyce (continuing with Kurt Vonnegut, David Mamet et al) were the first literary start-ups in the advertising industry. Explore our intuitive perceptions of the similarity in dissimilars. This lively discussion reveals who we are and how we think. Does advertising have the same aesthetic purpose as art? "A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection - not an invitation for hypnosis." - Umberto Eco. Includes the screening of "ALL ADVERTISING ADVERTISES ADVERTISING" (2008, 14minutes) Farina & Fialka's vibrant film uncovers the hidden effects of advertisers as psychoanalysts and prophets in the science of the imaginary. Rube Goldberg filmmakers Farina & Fialka satirize the adman's credo "create the disease and offer the cure." They look through ads like portals (port holes) unto a universe of media mindscapes and nuance. They question the simultaneity of great ads as myth. Fialka & Farina fuse an interpretive parable about the Wizard of Oz (Us) and the percepts of Marshall McLuhan to transform the very subject they are examining. Journey into familiarizing the ordinary. How are we immune to ads? Why? What are the critical connections between the rise of consumerism and our blind commitment to economic growth? "You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. " -Norman Douglas.
4- THE ART OF FAKERY IN EXPERIMENTAL & DOCUMENTARY FILM - "Compassionate tricksters" like Karl Krogstad, Coleman Miller (his slyly uproarious USO JUSTO is rooted in Ernie Kovacs and Tex Avery), Owen Land (WIDE ANGLE SAXON), and Firesign Theater transform Picasso's axiom "art is a lie that tells the truth." Their rascal rewrites the nature of experimentation. "Only the hand that erases can write the true thing." -Meister Eckhart. Media archaeologist Gerry Fialka also explores the popularity of the documentary. Are they lying to tell the truth? Discussing Alexandra Judas & Jessie Lerner's book F IS FOR PHONY: Fake Documentary And Truth's Undoing, Fialka probes the fiction/documentary divide, the ethics of reality-based manipulation, and whether documentaries derive from form or conception. From Buñuel's Land Without Bread to Welles's F is For Fake to Reine 's Spinal Tap to Craig Baldwin's faux faux Tribulation 99, fakes dismantle understandings of identity, history, authenticity and authority.
5- GFFFF - The Genuine Fake Fake Fake (Fake) Film Festival - The one-of-a-kind interactive workshop/screening teaches the history and future of experimental film. Comprehensiveness Mark Farina, Gerry Fialka and George Russell expand "centers without margins" in an interdisciplinary collaboration of film, dialogue, theater and music. By reinventing the influences of Melies, Vertigo, Warhol, Marker and more, they transform the boundaries between art and science. All crew, no passengers! Explore circling the square and the mysteries of art. With anticipatory mindfulness, this multimedia lecture shows how artists work much faster than theories evolve. Get educated as entertainingly as possible and discover what comes after the Internet. "Will it be an event about a fake original or original fake?" - Peter Greenaway. They become what they behold.
6- McLUHAN AS MUSIC - Music outsider Gerry Fialka examines McLuhan’s probe: “Song is slowed-down speech. The reason cultures have different musical tastes is ultimately connected to language difference” by surveying the anti-hits of The Shaggs, Igor Stravinsky’s Harvard lectures (attempting to prove that music is an expression of itself and nothing more), Korla Pandit’s “Universal Language of Music” idea, The Mothers Of Invention’s employment of Sprechstimme, Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic philosophy, John Oswald's Plunderphonics, and air molecule sculptures by Captain Beefheart, George Russell and Sun Ra. “Music is the Mother art”-Frank Lloyd Wright. “The best music does not want to be recorded” –Tom Waits.
7- THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE FILM FESTIVALIZED - Media ecologist Fialka probes the hidden effects of political activism in film. Does art really activate and/or pacify action? Has any film ever been the actual tipping point in changing laws? Have HBO and PBS hijacked the revolution? How do rebellion and revolution differ? How does "by any means necessary" apply to champagne socialists, radicals, limo liberals, anarchists, neocons and "fill-in-the blank"? What are the motives and consequences of political filmmakers? How do they negotiate social responsibility as a means of change? "Let imagination rule" - Paris student revolts 1968.
8- LIVING CINEMA - From Buñuel's live narration to Stan VanDerBeek's exemplary multi-media Movie-Drome to Gene Youngblood's Synaesthetic Cinema to AAFF's Pat Olesko's interactions with her filmic self, the combo of film and the physical body has been transformative. Carol Schneemann, Sun Ra and PXL THIS's King Kukulele have used their bodies as projection screens. Fialka surveys the historical context of pioneers Jack Smith and Alan Kaprow, who dissolved boundaries between film, art and life. The zeitgeist is alive and kicking with Ben Russell, Potter-Belmar Labs and Diana Acre's Political Karaoke (Politaoke). Encyclopedic Fialka probes its roots and where its going.
9- FOUND FOOTAGE - Scavenger artist Gerry Fialka asks new questions about found art. This interactive workshop delves into Joseph Cornell, Bruce Conner, Emile de Antonio, Martin Arnold and Dusan Makavejev. Do reconstructions and deconstructions create counter histories? Dumpster diving filmmakers (like past AAFF- Ann Arbor Film Festival participants: Bruce Conner, Craig Baldwin, Jesse Lerner & more) recycle refuse to elevate the bastard medium of assemblage with aesthetic coherence. How and why does the hybrid film's metaphoric weight surpass its status as a visual document? Have all the films in the world been made and it's just a question of re-editing them?
10- GRASSROOTS 9/11 FILMMAKERS - Self taught filmmakers & political activists are asking the questions that corporate media avoids. Their compelling investigative research is reaching millions via the Internet, community & at-home screenings. Filmmaker/political activist Gerry Fialka probes the phenomenon of ZEITGEIST, SEPTEMBER CLUES , RING OF POWER and screens exclusive interviews with the independent filmmakers of LOOSE CHANGE, 9/11 MYSTERIES and more. This interactive discussion explores the motives and consequences of bottom-up film making movements, revolutionary change, copyright free ("open sources") and movie-watching's subliminal effects.
11- YOUTUBE: DEMOCRATIZING FILMMAKING - Media Ecologist Gerry Fialka traces the history of low-tech creativity from Super 8mm & Pixelvision to cellphone videos, podcasts, webcams, Twitter, and new media to come, as well as the global cultural phenomenon, YouTube. Online social networking sites are rapidly making accessible everything from experimental film to war atrocities, from rare music performances to influential political clips, and from user-generated content to censored shows. Explore the hidden effects of this vital tool as an active means of democratizing self expression 24/7. Fialka will probe McLuhan's "rearviewmirrorism" (when new media looks backwards for content and meaning) and how we experience the multilayered blending of high & low cultures.
12- THE ARTIST & McLUHAN - Info-archaeologist Gerry Fialka probes the depths of Robert Cavell's 2002 book McLUHAN IN SPACE:A CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY, Mike Kelley's 2002 book FOUL PERFECTION and the Robert Dobbs’ essay/interview ENTERTAINMENT SUCKS. McLuhan’s theme of art as anti-environment is the context for exploring the impact of Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce, John Cage, Henry Darger, William Pope.L, Bruce Conner, Joseph Beuys, Karl Appel and more. "We must all become creative artists in order to cope with even the banalities of daily life."- Marshall McLuhan.
13- MEDIA & McLUHAN - Gerry Fialka presents an interactive workshop to examine the effects of what humans invent. After a brief survey of McLuhan's background in literature from Poe to Joyce, Fialka will detail the importance of probing the "hidden effects or environments" created by media. By examining what's going on (pattern recognition) one can attain views of the big picture (comprehensive awareness). McLuhan hoicked up this mindfulness as a path to cope with media's hidden effects. He devised the Tetrad, four questions one can apply to media: 1) What does it enhance or intensify? 2) What does it render obsolete or replace? 3) What does it bring back that was previously obsolesced? 4) What does it become when pressed to an extreme, what does it flip into? McLuhan defined "media" and "technology" as anything humans invent from clothing to computers, from language to philosophy, from toothpicks to cell phones. These are some of the topics we will do Tetrads on as a group. Also, Fialka will review McLuhan's famous observation "The medium is the message/massage," his first book THE MECHANICAL BRIDE which covers his reasons to study advertising, and how media are extensions of human sensoriums.
14- THE AESTHETICS OF FILM FESTIVALS - an interactive workshop that inventories the effects of art, film and video (via McLuhan) by exploring the procedure of exhibition in both the festival and series formats. What gets picked to be shown and why? Film clips will help both filmmakers and aspiring curators/programmers to get a handle on the screening committee process, and how to make the viewing experience complete. Fialka has worked with the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Filmex, Documental, PXL THIS and 7 Dudley Cinema.
15- FACT & FICTION: IS PERCEPTION REALITY? - Film Curator Gerry Fialka will lead an interactive workshop on the documentary film and its recent rise of popularity. Examining pioneers like Flaherty, Vertov, Wiseman, Pennebaker, Michael Moore and Chris Marker, this review will incite new questions about Grierson's definition of documentary as "creative treatment of actuality." Probing the philosophies of documentarians, fresh insights will arise concerning stagings and reenactments, and the different viewpoints on degrees of involvement with th e subjects. Vertov argued for presenting "life as it is" (that is, life filmed surreptitiously) and "life caught unawares" (life provoked or surprised by the camera). What is endemic to this genre and why? "The most important thing a documentary director does is to say 'Stop shooting'" -Peter Davis.. "The best fiction is more true than any kind of journalism." -Faulkner. "In order to make fiction, you have to begin with documentary, and in order to make documentary, you start with fiction." -Godard. "We are led to believe a lie When we see with not through the eye." - William Blake.
16- DOCUMENTARY DILEMMAS - Film Curator Gerry Fialka reviews questions facing documentarians and their quest for ecstatic truth, emotional truth, intellectual truth and physical truth. How do they deal with personal bias, morals, and ethics in rewriting memory? If the filmmakers are faced with a life-or-death situation with the subject, should they put down the camera and attempt to save the life? What is the story, and then, what is the "real" story? Fialka offers diverse evaluations of how we perceive the world via documentaries, and challenging perspectives on Herzog's Grizzly Man, Morris' Fog of War, Eric Steel's The Bridge, the early hybrid masterpiece by Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle Of Algiers, and the faux faux doc Tribulation 99 by Craig Baldwin.
17- MOTIVES & CONSEQUENCES OF EXPERIMENTAL FILM - Reality Performance Artist Gerry Fialka will lead an interactive workshop on how deviation from the norm results in progress. Reviewing the effects of avant-garde experiments in filmmaking on the creators and the audience, participants will uncover the hidden environments of moving image art. Marshall McLuhan's theme of art (in this case, experimental film) as anti-environment is the context for exploring the impact of pioneers like Marcel Duchamp, Luis Bunuel, Maya Deren, Bruce Conner, and more. Consider these questions:
*Is experimental film just another form of storytelling or something completely different? "Cinema is much too rich a medium to be left to storytellers" -Peter Greenaway. "I am not a storyteller, I work with emotions"- Robert Altman.
*Why is experimental filmmaking usually a solo effort rather than a group collaboration?
*Via Marcel Duchamp, how can one make an experimental film that is not an experimental film?
*How and why do experimental filmmakers combine self expression and self surrender to expand cinema language?
*Is the crux of the experimental film biscuit to see beyond seeing itself?
*How did James Joyce re-invent a genre-mashing strain of experimental filmmaking and disquise it as a book, FINNEGANS WAKE in 1939?
*How can we apply these McLuhan's probes to experimental filmmaking?: "There's no such thing as a good or bad film, it is a good or bad viewing experience." "Understanding is not having a point of view."
*Legendary Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, who won first prize at the 1964 Ann Arbor Film Festival with "21-87," described his first film VERY NICE, VERY NICE (1961): "It's not just an interesting experiment....it moves people. It's not arty. It is in between - neither underground nor conventional." Stanley Kubrick described it as "one of the most imaginative and brilliant uses of the movie screen and soundtrack that I have ever seen." Lipsett combined elements of narrative, documentary, experimental collage and visual essay to create a new hybrid. Embracing comprehensive awareness, what elements define experimental? What is beyond experimental?