. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

October 10 – Zach Blas: Obedient x3

Posted by | mnguyen6 | Posted on | October 7, 2019

 Zach Blas in person

Zach Blas (Post-Bac 2006), Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist and SAIC’s Video Data Bank

Wry and provocative, the work of multidisciplinary artist Zach Blas (Post-Bac 2006) examines technologies of social control through the lens of queer and feminist politics. In recent years, his projects have addressed biometric capture, microdosing, the hegemony of the Internet, and sex toys. Blas presents a suite of these projects, including the Chicago premiere of Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 (2018). Using Derek Jarman’s queer punk classic Jubilee (1978) as inspiration, Blas’ film is a CGI fever dream in which Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and members of Rand’s Collective are transported from 1955 to a dystopian future Silicon Valley. Guided by a holographic virtual assistant, the group is confronted by Nootropix, a prophetic figure (played by the artist Cassils) who envisions new modes of connection through the end of the Internet.

 2011–19, United Kingdom/United States/Germany/Denmark/Mexico, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Video Data Bank

Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans technical investigation, theoretical research, conceptualism, performance, and science fiction. He is a lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings internationally, recently at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; 2018 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; 68th Berlin International Film Festival; Matadero Madrid; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Art in General, New York; Gasworks, London; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; e-flux; Whitechapel Gallery, London; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City. His practice has been supported by a Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, the Arts Council England, and Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst. Blas is a 2018–20 UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow and a 2019 Mercator Fellow in Configurations of Film at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany.

October 3 – New Films from the GLAS Animation Festival

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | September 30, 2019

GLAS Animation Festival director Jeanette Bonds in person

Tomek Popakul, Acid Rain, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist and Animoon

Each year, the GLAS Animation Festival showcases a thrillingly expansive range of films from around the globe. Founded in 2016 by animators Jeanette Bonds and Einar Baldvin, it has become a singular platform for art and industry alike, highlighting experimental and visionary threads across the spectrum. Bonds presents a selection of films from the festival’s 2019 edition, including Grand Prix winner Acid Rain (2019), a mind-bending tale of street life and love by Polish animator Tomek Popakul, as well as festival favorite Agua Viva (2018), an exquisite portrait of the inner life of a Chinese manicurist by Alexa Lim Haas. Also on the program are Marta Pajek’s Impossible Figures and Other Stories III (2018), Lénaïg Le Moigne’s Clemence’s Afternoon (2017), Alain Biet’s Grands Canons (2018), and Boris Labbé’s La Chute (2018).

Multiple directors, 2017–19, France/Poland/United States, multiple formats, ca 80 minutes followed by discussion

Curator Jeanette Bonds in person

Jeanette Bonds is cofounder and director of GLAS Animation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to independent animation. She served as animation producer for David Gilmour’s Girl in the Yellow Dress directed by Danny Madden, directed visuals for Nick Thornburn’s music tour, and directed visuals for Kid 606’s B Minor music video. She is currently a director and producer at B&B Pictures, a company founded with her longtime collaborator Sean Buckelew. Bonds is part of the international animation collective Late Night Work Club, a programmer at Slamdance Film Festival and FMX–Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Immersive Media, a contributor to Short of the Week, and serves on the board of directors for ASIFA-Hollywood. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts and continues to make films and installations.

September 26 – Selina Trepp: I Work With What I Have

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | September 23, 2019

Selina Trepp, Tomeka Reid, Jason Roebke, Dan Bitney in person

Selina Trepp (BFA 1998), I Work With What I Have, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist

Informed by ideas of improvisation, collaboration, and flux, Chicago-based artist Selina Trepp (BFA 1998) produces exuberant works from radically limited means. Since 2012, she has refrained from bringing new materials into her practice, instead recycling past artworks and remnants into each new project. Her animated films reflect the living and continuously evolving environment of her studio through their dynamic topographies and breath-like rhythms. For this special program, she presents the premiere of I Work With What I Have, a new stop-motion animation and visual score, performed live by musicians Tomeka Reid, Jason Roebke, and Dan Bitney; a live performance as Spectralina, her ongoing collaboration with Bitney; and a selection of recent films.

2016–19, United States, DCP and live performance, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Selina Trepp, Tomeka Reid, Jason Roebke, and Dan Bitney in person

Selina Trepp is a Swiss-American artist living in Chicago. She explores economy and improvisation through performance, installation, painting, sculpture, photography, and animation. In addition to her studio-based practice, Trepp is active in the experimental music scene. In this context she sings and plays the videolah, a MIDI-controlled video synthesizer, which produces real-time animations. Trepp’s work has been exhibited internationally, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Swiss Art Award and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. Trepp received a Master of Fine Arts from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007.

Fall 2019 Season Announcement

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | August 14, 2019

Filipa César, Spell Reel, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist and SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

We’re pleased to announce the Fall 2019 season of Conversations at the Edge! We have a terrific program lined up, including appearances by media artists Selina Trepp (Sept 26); Zach Blas (Oct 10); Rachel Rossin (Oct 24); Shengze Zhu (Oct 31); Hiwa K (Nov 7); Filipa César (Nov 14); as well as curators Jeanette Bonds, with a program of recent international animation (Oct 3); Federico Windhausen, with a program of works by Argentinian filmmaker Narcisa Hirsch (Oct 17); and Aily Nash, with a program titled Image Employment (Nov 21), presented in conjunction with the exhibition Re:Working Labor (curated by Daniel Eisenberg and Ellen Rothenberg) at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries.

That’s A Wrap – Spring 2019

Posted by | Amy Beste | Posted on | May 10, 2019

Thank you for making our Spring 2019 season such a success! See you in September!

Jodie Mack, still from The Grand Bizarre, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Laida Lertxundi, still from Words, Planets, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Evan Meaney, image from ++ We Will Love You For Ever, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

Fawzia Mirza, still fromThe Queen of My Dreams, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Yang Luzi, still from The Oracle is the Mouthpiece, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

Marina Zurkow, still from Mesocosm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Morgan Fisher, still from Another Movie, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Tabita Rezaire, still from Premium Connect, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

Eric Baudelaire, still from the The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and LUX.

Naeem Mohaiemen, still from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and LUX.

Yael Bartana, Still from Kings of the Hill, 2003. Courtesy of the artist.

April 18 – Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan: On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 15, 2019

Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan in person

Marina Zurkow, still from Mesocosm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation.

Critics Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan, winners of the 2018 Thoma Foundation Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art, engage in a wide-ranging conversation about the social and political dynamics embedded in virtual reality, games, digital art, and software design. Considering the work of Rachel Rossin, Ramsey Nasser, Jenova Chen, Hyphen-Labs, Porpentine, Lucia Grossberger-Morales, and Marina Zurkow, among others, the two pose critical questions about the ways new technologies interact with constructions of race, class, the self, and the other. Chan’s writing focuses on the sociopolitical implications of digital art. Flanagan is the author of the landmark book Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009), among many others.

1980–2018, various artists, multiple countries, multiple formats, ca 60 min followed by audience Q&A

Presented in partnership with the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation

Dawn Chan’s writing appears in The Atlantic (online), Bookforum, New York Times, NewYorker.com, New York Magazine, Paris Review, Village Voice, among other publications. She also frequently contributes to Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018. Her work often focuses on the relationships between visual art, culture, identity, and technology. Currently a visiting scholar at New York University’s XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement, Chan has lectured at venues including the Guggenheim Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the recipient of a 2018 Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

Mary Flanagan is the author of the book Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009), co-author of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri (2005), and co-editor of the collections Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (2003) and Re:Skin (2006). Her essays and articles have appeared in Art Against Art, Salon, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. She is working on a series of popular and art press essays that look at the productive paradox of art games. Flanagan is also the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Tiltfactor.

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation is a pioneering collection of digital art that encompasses artistic innovations in custom-coded and algorithmic software, Internet-connected and real-time animation, early computer drawing, interactive technology, video installation, electronic sculpture, and works that utilize LED and LCD displays. The foundation initiated the Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art in 2015. This annual award grants a $40,000 award for an established arts writer in the United States who has made significant contributions to writing about digital art and a $20,000 award for an emerging arts writer in the United States who demonstrates great promise in writing about digital art. The foundation is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Chicago.

April 11 – Tabita Rezaire: Network Blossom

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 8, 2019

Tabita Rezaire in person

Tabita Rezaire, still from Premium Connect, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

French Guyana-based new media artist and energy worker Tabita Rezaire navigates power structures on and offline to pursue decolonial healing. Through performance, 3D animation, and screen interfaces, her work addresses the ongoing effects of colonialism and decenters occidental authority. She presents a trio of videos that reimagine technology, spirituality, and the erotic. The striking Sugar Walls Teardom (2016) considers the contribution of Black womxns’ wombs to the advancement of modern medical science and technology. Deep Down Tidal (2017) investigates the overlapping routes of undersea optic cables and colonial geography. Premium Connect (2017) finds connections between the organic, technological, and spiritual worlds through the exploration of African divination systems, the fungi underworld, ancestor communications, and quantum physics.

2016–17, Tabita Rezaire, South Africa, HD digital, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Tabita Rezaire’s cross-dimensional practice envisions network sciencesorganic, electronic and spiritualas healing technologies. Inspired by quantum and cosmic mechanics, Rezaire’s work is rooted in time-spaces where technology and spirituality intersect as fertile ground to nourish visions for connection and emancipation. She holds a Bachelor in Economics and a Master of Research in Moving Image from Central Saint Martins College (London). Rezaire is a founding member of NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy house SENEB. Rezaire has shown her work internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New Museum, New York; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; National Gallery Denmark, Copenhagen; Tate Modern, London; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, New York; The Broad, Los Angeles; as well as the Guangzhou Triennial; Athens Biennale; Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Performa, New York; Karachi Biennale; and Berlin Biennale.

April 4 – Shards from the Mirror of History

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | April 1, 2019

Nicky Ni and Jennifer Lee in person

Hao Jingban, still from Little Dance, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.

Born under China’s one-child policy in the 1980s and raised amidst the country’s recent social and economic changes, China’s “lost” generation has gained a reputation for unprecedented individualism, ambition, and distinctive sense of humor. Curated by Nicky Ni, this program brings together a group of emerging Chinese artists whose work contemplates their unique connection to the greater cultural narratives and phenomena of China—from the emergence of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, to the country’s social and economic transformations in the last two decades. Through poetic reenactment, parodic performance, or punky intervention, featured artists Tao Hui, Hao Jingban, Yang Luzi, Yao Qingmei, Liu Yefu, Zhou Yan(MFA 2015), Jiū Society, among others, piece together fragmented individual and collective histories to make new meaning from the past.

2012–18, various artists, China/Monaco/Japan/USA, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion with curator Nicky Ni and Jennifer Lee, Assistant Professor in Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Nicky Ni is the curatorial assistant for Conversations at the Edge and a Master’s candidate in Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy at SAIC. She also works at SAIC’s Video Data Bank as a graduate distribution assistant. Previously, she has assisted with the exhibitions, Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat. (2017) and Whistler and Russel: Linked Visions (2015) at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ni has worked at the Hyde Park Art Center and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was a graduate curatorial fellow at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries. She received her Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University.

March 28 – Disorienting Diasporas

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | March 25, 2019

Curators Nima Esmailpour and Jordan Arseneault in person   

2Fik, still from My Name is Ludmilla-Mary – Corpus Christi (TX), 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Since 2006, the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project (QMDCQ) has worked to resuscitate a rich heritage of queer moving-image makers and their works. Curated by the QMDCQ in partnership with the Montréal-based collective Taklif: تکلیف, Disorienting Diasporas is a migrant mixtape par excellence. Spanning nearly two decades with stops in South Asia, the Middle East, and the Maghreb before passing through Canadian border controls, this program brings together work by Brown diasporic artists who elude the logic of either/or in favor of the neither/nor of unbelonging. In their play with media and expectations, these artists open the way to a lucid, radical, and unyielding reflection on the marginalized trajectories of Brown diasporas in Canada since the 1990s. Featuring works by Atif Siddiqi, Hejer Charf, Ari Nooranii, Kevin d’Souza, Farrah Khan, Sharif Waked, Fawzia Mirza, 2Fik, and Safiya Randera.

1998–2015, various artists, Canada, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes followed by discussion

Presented in partnership with the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project. Introduced by Nima Esmailpour from Taklif: تکلیف and Jordan Arseneault from the QMDCQ

The Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project aims to maintain a dynamic and interactive online catalogue of LGBTQ Canadian film, video, and digital works; their makers; and related institutions. The website, mediaqueer.ca is a bilingual online research and curatorial tool that provides researchers, students, artists, academics, curators, cinephiles, critics, and community members free access to a rich array of art historical and biographical information about queer moving image works from the 1930s to today.

Taklif : تکلیف is an imaginary space and a traveling library for radical imagination dedicated to learning, unlearning, and relearning practices through art and dialogue and an artist-run initiative formed with the ambition to rigorously bridge our intellectual activities with our emotional embodied intuitions, within and beyond institutional settings.

March 21 – Evan Meaney: We Will Love You Forever

Posted by | Nicky Ni | Posted on | March 18, 2019

Evan Meaney in person

Evan Meaney, image from ++ We Will Love You For Ever, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

Mixing humor and pathos, the work of new media artist and game designer Evan Meaney meditates on the transience of human experience and its representation in digital media. Meaney often uses corrupted and failing data as source material, exploring human efforts to collect and preserve in the face of entropy. He presents a selection of work from the past decade, including the video essay Big­_Sleep™ (2015), which juxtaposes the expansive yet deteriorating 20th-century archive of newsreel cameraman William Birch with Meaney and Amy Szczepanski’s Big­_Sleep™ Media Encoder—a program that conserves digital material, but makes it permanently inaccessible–and the virtual reality artwork ++We Will Love You Forever (2017), which reflects on the creative impulse and efforts to create archives of human code—digital and DNA—on the moon.

Evan Meaney, 2007–17, USA, multiple formats, ca 60 minutes plus discussion

Presented in collaboration with SAIC’s Video Data Bank

Evan Meaney is an artist, game designer, and researcher who teaches new media practices at the University of South Carolina where he serves as head of the Media Arts program. Meaney has been an artist in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts and the Experimental Television Center, a founding member of GLI.TC/H, a super juror for IndieCade, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab, and a contributor to the Atlantic. His creative works have found audiences all over the world, including International Film Festival Rotterdam, Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, and the US Library of Congress. Currently, Meaney is developing a number of personal projects while collaborating with a team of engineers on virtual reality applications for predictive maintenance. His time-based artworks are available through SAIC’s Video Data Bank.

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    Conversations at the Edge is a weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists.


    CATE is organized by SAIC's Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation in collaboration with the Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC's Video Data Bank, Conversations at the Edge is a dynamic weekly series of screenings, performances, and talks by groundbreaking media artists.


    Programs take place Thursdays at 6pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State / Chicago, IL / 312.846.2600), unless otherwise noted.