Contemplating Spinning Planets and Other Organics

“Beings or Essences are not to be multiplied beyond necessity*.”

mungo thomson
Whitney Biennial 2008 installation of Mungo Thomson’s “Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest”

I saw Mungo Thomson’s Silent Film of a Tree Falling in the Forest at the Whitney Biennial in 2008. The film proceeded to inhabit my head for about 18 months, flickering to the surface; silent nightmares, silent wonder. After my own recent cinematic dalliance with landscape, I decided that I really needed to see that film again. And it occurred to me that maybe some other folks in San Diego might enjoy seeing it as well. Long story short, the Carousel Microcinema was born. Back in 1988, Frank Gillette carried a hot torch for conceptualism when he applied the mantra Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem* to video his video work invested in  envisioning an order on the landscape. And so it goes that in 2008 Thomson’s film turns me straight around. I’m quite sure that there is one thing on this earth we cannot need too many of, and that is trees. Excuse me while I go hug one.

And yet, as a strategy for process and production, order does prevail. The films gathered in this program are from friends, colleagues, students, strangers, and one idol for good measure. All of the works deal with the ways in which our bodies exist on this planet and are supernaturally formed to mimic and coexist with all of the other organic matter on our blue marbled globe.  The films also speak to the human tendency to violently deny fact that the earth has dominion over us and everything on it, not the other way around. Perhaps deep down, we do know this and act out against it. This would explain why there seems to be no science, no narcotic, and no religion strong enough to tame the savage fear that charges the synapses of the human psyche and sends us, as a species, spiraling towards our own destruction.

With the recent discovery of water on the moon, a close look at our environs – at our origins seems rather urgent. The film and video makers gathered together for this program  try to show us what their world looks like with earnestness or with detachment, with wonderment or sheer play these sequences of sound and image just might assuage the fear, and helps us see our-selves, in our-world.  So I thank all of the film and video makers who donated their works to this program in our quest to gently, and sometimes, not so gently, remember and re-imagine the ecology of the body.

-Cauleen Smith
San Diego. November 2009


About cauleen

Cauleen Smith is a native Californian who has had the privilege of living in Austin, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts, Emeryville, and San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles in California. She finds herself now happily settled in Chicago, IL where she makes stuff with an emphasis on the moving image, sound, and outer space.
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