Encyclopedia Destructica Volume Bumba: Issue the Fourth
Local art-zine Encylopedia Destructica's latest issue deviates from its characteristic collection of sketchbook and journal work by area artists. Instead, issue editor Matt Wellins' anthology is the most comprehensive survey of local video artists around.
Most of the 38 works included in this 225-minute DVD (which comes in a handsome handbound book) are five minutes or less, and date from the past few years. Yet while they range from abstract animation to impressionistic documentary, experimental narrative and beyond, most share a sophisticated approach. Two stylistic poles are defined by "Sports and Diversion," Bum Lee's captivating series of black-and-white animations set to piano pieces by Satie, and "Essay 33," Melissa Ragona's cryptic, intellectual and strangely compelling short built around instructional napkin-folding videos.
In between: Jessica Fenlon's "Crossroads," an evocative study of a single night-time street corner; Emmett Frisbee's "Groundhog," with sui generis performer D.J. Huber's battily satiric piss-take on regional Americana; Michelle Lee's "Transcience," a brief and lovely animation; and "Kaleidoscope," Anna Hawkins' subtle exploration of reflected light.
In-betweener: "Ledger of St. Dermain," a characteristically warped narrative from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE; the trailer for John Allen Gibel's "Pleromadromadhatu," a freaky glimpse of the work's necro-cinephiliac themes; and Adam Grossi's "Gross Functions," a probing look at doctor-patient dysfunction.
Documentary-style works include: Mo Madono's "Slideshow," cannily capturing the essence of a performance-art piece; the inside-out voyeurism of Keith Tassick's "Big Dick Pussy"; Jane LeBlond's "Black Room," a meditative-cum-menacing portrait of an unpeopled lab space; and Lauren Goshinski's "Three," a disturbingly gorgeous, and somehow provocative, study of PBS television promo and sponsor graphics.
For sheer diversion, click to Rebbyro's "Paint N' Scratch," a colorful abstract; Josh Tonies' pleasing motion study "Time Loops"; T. Foley's "A Mano," a rhythmic survey of hand-painted signage in a Mexican town; Suzie Silver's camp extravaganza "Peggy Love 101"; and "Falling Down Film," an aesthetic tour de force by Jim Mueller. Another favorite is Gordon Nelson's "Sixties Teen Dance Party," a deceptively simple reworking of an old home movie that, with a new soundtrack, becomes by turns sexy, comic, foreboding and borderline demonic.
Not everything works as sit-down-and-watch-it video art. Editor Wellins' own contribution, "Acknowledgements" -- the collection's longest piece -- is a 17-minute assembly of home-movie-style footage that's engaging only intermittently. And a couple videos are just plain silly.
Still, time spent with this Encyclopedia ($15 at various local shops or www.encyclopediadestructica.com) is time well spent, and a fitting tribute to the local scene.